Conscientious Knowledge Workflow

I'm trying to improve my heavily utilized, but highly disjointed knowledge workflow.

What do I mean by workflow?

By workflow, I mean my purposeful consumption of content for the purpose of building my personal knowledge base and the retrievable archive of said knowledge base.

Here goes my current list of tools (in a various states of active and inactive use), services and content sources for gathering, reading, synthesizing, and recalling the various types of content I consume:

As you can see, that list could use some refinement.

My current workflow typically starts by casually browsing my various feeds and sources, from there:

  • I'll save links/headlines that look interesting directly to instapaper as my catchall.

  • Browse my instapaper queue and either archive items that no longer look interesting or jump into an article and start reading

  • Articles that are non-memorable get archived

  • Articles that are worth referring to later get sent pinboard

  • Articles that blow my mind in some way get "liked" in instapaper and archived

  • I use evernote to snap photo notes from whiteboard sessions or from my pocket notebook

  • I journal using day one

Seems simple enough right? Wrong.

For instance:

  • Why send articles to pinboard instead of just archiving in instapaper?

  • Why pinboard over evernote?

  • Why do I have an IFTTT recipe to auto save my instapaper feed to pocket?

  • Why have stared twitter & posts IFTTT to pinboard instead of just using instapaper? What's the difference between the two?

So many questions, so few answers.

How do others solve these issues?

I've been reading some good articles about other people's workflows.

I like the some of the tasks and activities Gabe Weatherhead and others have identified for their workflows:

  • capture

  • recovery

  • logging (incomplete thoughts, record of events)

  • notes (complete thoughts)

  • journaling (record of events, milestones, etc)

  • time shifting (for other audiences later in life)

David Sparks has a nice summary as well:

  1. Therapy for myself. It seems a good way to collect and deal with my thoughts about whatever is happening in my life. This is particularly true if I create the entries before ending my day.

  2. Nostalgia. It may be interesting in a few years to go back and see where my head was in 2011.

Short and sweet.

I like the idea of re-designing my workflow around specific purposes and adapting the various tools I'm using to fit the different buckets and workflows for those purposes.

Relating this back to my workflow

I can't help but feel like this is all just a compulsion for me. I just did the Strength Finder assessment at the suggestion of a co-worker. In a past life I would have rolled my eyes at a personality assessment, but I've since had a good experience with the myers briggs assessment (I'm an ENTP btw) so I figured I'd give it a shot. It turns out one of my top 5 themes (pdf) is learner:

you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you.

You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence.

Nailed it.

Retooling my workflow

I need to optimize my workflow. I need to think about which stage I'm in in the learning process and re-tool accordingly. A possible approach:

  1. Capture

    • I need to think about my workflow as a funnel. Perhaps use pinboard to save all my links that I come across.

    • Use evernote to capture half conceived thoughts and random visual notes from whiteboards and notebooks.

  2. Consume

    • Browse my pinboard queue for items truly worth reading
  3. Synthesize

    • Save content that resonates using the like function instapaper

    • Write fully thought out ideas in day one

  4. Archive

    • Arctive: Send liked articles from instapaper to specific notebook in evernote

    • Passive: pinboard & instapaper will have a stored versions of all the content and can act as a secondary backup

  5. Publish

    • That workflow is a post for another day. But it's about when to journal, when to post to social, when to post my primary website.

I haven't pulled the trigger yet because I'm still thinking through whether I want all these tools in my life, or if I'd rather consolidate (and put my full trust) into a smaller sub-set of tools. I don't know why I agonize over this stuff so much.

Posted on January 22, 2013 and filed under wisdom, creativity.