Tracking how well you learn, understand, and apply knowledge

One of the chief uses of tags to indicate how “done” a note is, is so you can do a quick search to find notes that need your love and attention. In theory, this is a proxy for how well you’ve learned or understand the idea.

A founding principle of my system is to learn, remember what I’ve learned, and apply what I’ve learned, and tracking how done a note is doesn’t track my learning or application.

Instead, I tag a note with the type of knowledge it is:

  • #fact
  • #structure
  • #concept
  • #principle
  • #process
  • #procedure
  • #template

This is based on Tiago Forte’s, “A Complete Guide to Tagging for Personal Knowledge Management”. (Scroll down to the section on “Information mapping – tagging for the knowledge lifecycle”.)

Most notes end up being concepts, however once I understand a concept, I can derive principles for applying the concept. For example, one of my concepts is “quality of social relationship affects degree of collaboration”. There’s research on this, related definitions, and concepts, etc.

However, the concept by itself is more useful if I derive principles like “start workshops with activities that improve participant relationships”. The principle represents my by better understanding and application of the knowledge in the concept.

Similarly, from the principle, I can derive a process for implementing the principle, and if I really understand how to apply the process, I can create a repeatable procedure (like a checklist or worksheet) that lets me apply the process without needing to understand the concept or the principle behind it.

Templates are things I have become so good at and do so similarly every time, I can literally copy and paste (and probably do some tweaking).

This process also makes it easier to write blog posts. If I want to write about a concept, the answer to why you should care are the principles you can derive. A post on a principle is only really useful if you explain the foundation concepts and derive an applicable process.

And so on.