It’s commonplace. Spending a significant amount of time searching for knowledge online and other sources. It’s become the way we learn, the way we connect with loved ones, and definitely the way we network and grow our careers.
This means that there’s a need to develop our skills in effectively managing the information that we collect from the sources that we frequent and trust. Otherwise, we run the risk of spinning our wheels and throwing our time into the (digital) abyss without ever getting anything back in the way of our personal development.
Then enters personal knowledge management.
And um, please don’t be put off by the word ‘management’. It’s a fun way to accelerate your learning and most importantly, organize all the valuable information and insight you gather from your research and reading. Plus, personal cloud storage has become easily available and most devices allow for easy filing, tagging, organizing, and searching.
Knowledge management, as a practice, is defined as the thoughtful process of defining, structuring, retaining, and using/sharing information.
And to effectively manage your library, build an easy-to-navigate system to store different types of material. You can categorise information into common themes. Example: the online links to informative videos, articles, online courses, etc. can be stored in one folder.
The benefits of managing knowledge
Retaining information (or, building a ‘back-up brain’)
The truth is that it’s difficult to remember all the things we see and learn daily. Important insights that could be saved and later combined with other pieces of information eventually get lost. An effective note-taking system allows you to build a habit of recording your thoughts and ideas and use them to build an expansive library that will become an ally to your learning.
Archiving notes makes for easy future reference
As a student, you spend a large sum of your time finding and reading, interpreting/summarizing and using information to learn and improve. And eventually, graduate through the course. With knowledge management, the idea is to properly organise what you learn, and place yourself in a position to leverage what you gain in the process.
Personal knowledge management combines (and helps improve) research skills, critical thinking, and evaluating communication. And in a learning environment, information literacy is important for academic success, and in the workplace too.
On a ‘smaller scale’, keeping a diary could be considered a form of knowledge management. It involves thinking over again and writing down the details of your day or week, and processing emotions. It improves critical thinking skills and self-awareness. Over time, the diary becomes a tool through which you can look at yourself objectively. You are able to find useful (or, destructive) patterns within the diary entries and make necessary adjustments.
Keeping track of what we learn and think is also a useful way to explore language and improve communication skills.
The more we discover new information, archive it, and find ways to use it to learn and add value to others, the more we find connections between different ideas.
And it goes without saying that a personal knowledge management system cultivates a habit of lifelong learning.