Why You Should Build a Second Brain

Three steps to get started

Can you remember the best advice you’ve ever received? How many articles have you bookmarked, never to see again? What about all those brilliant ideas that never saw the light of day?

I’m building my second brain, and I feel like I’m fashionably late to the party. When Becca, my friend and co-host of the Alt Marketing School podcast, introduced me to Notion 3 years ago, I realised you could build your second brain with just a few clicks.

I was hooked – but I felt like my invitation had been lost in the post.

I remember Becca sharing her screen and proudly announcing she’d show me her second brain. At first, I was a bit puzzled. A second brain?

In a nutshell, a second brain helps you store exciting and relevant information, and plan projects effectively.

It was serendipitous when Becca showed me her setup. As she opened Notion, a light bulb went on, and everything made sense. On a whim, I started working on my version of a second brain.

I’m an idea person, and my work requires me to stay up to date with everything. If you’re creative with loads of ideas, then information overload is a real issue.

Do you find yourself switching between bookmarks and devices? Wading through emails and RSS feeds daily? Is your browser always hosting more tabs than it can handle? What about your brain tabs?

“Researchers say that the stress of not being able to process information as fast as it arrives—combined with the personal and social expectation that you will answer every email message—can deplete and demoralize you.”

Harvard Business Review

Building a second brain helps you offload your mind. Unpacking information – what I affectionately call a brain dump in my book, Reclaim Your Time Off – is essential.

Sorting and cataloguing information, tasks, and ideas allows us to be mindful about what to keep in our brain and what to store for later. Without an offloading system, whatever we “save for later” often gets forgotten.

Having a second brain helps direct my focus better.

👩‍🏫 Lesson of the week

Having a centralised system to retain information isn’t new to me. Starting work on Alt Marketing School prompted me to create a new place to map the brand’s next steps.

Instead of being discouraged by not having found Notion earlier, I became a student and learned how to harness the platform.

What I love about Notion is its simplicity. In Notion, every piece of content is a block. You can convert a word into a new page and condense pages into tables.

It allows you to embed different formats and create connections and rules between documents. You can browse templates to fit various needs. For my second brain, I mainly stuck with ‘personal’ templates.

When I then created a second brain for marketers, I started identifying some of the recurring things that as marketers we need day and in and day out to work smarter.

And guess what, if you want to start from scratch, you can do just the same. If you just want a done for you version instead, scroll on.

✍️ Teacher corner: your challenge

To start building your second brain, first identify core projects and areas of focus through which you can create a collection of resources using Notion’s templates. Here’s where it gets juicy.

Grab a piece of paper – you’re about to experience your very own brain dump.

First, understand what this second brain will be for:

  1. Can you recognise recurring themes?

  2. Do you have any questions you keep returning to in your professional or personal life?

  3. What topics, areas, or hobbies do you enjoy and want to improve on?

  4. Is there any knowledge you want to connect on a professional or personal level to help you upscale?

Write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about different topics not being interconnected. Before building a second brain, we need to dump our brain on paper.

First, see all the information to curate it into one place. After this step, become a curator.

Look at patterns and rank the topics you want to focus on to build projects around them. Then, like you would with different folders for your documents, create pages or areas of focus for your second brain.

The hierarchy would look like this:

  • Different topics or areas

  • Each topic or area has various projects

  • Each project is built on a collection of resources

For example, in my marketing area, I have projects for a reading list and social media news. I chose the best Notion template to contain all the resources – this is where you need to get clear on what template can serve you best.

🏫 Class in session

Looking for a second brain, without the hassle of having to build it yourself?

The Alt Marketing School Second Brain for Marketers is an intuitively designed Notion dashboard where you can collect, organise, and apply your most important ideas and insights.

This dashboard is designed to bring all your marketing needs into one neatly organised space. From daily tasks to long-term goals, inspiration for campaigns, and performance tracking, the Notion Second Brain has got you covered.

I hope this inspires you to build a second brain for yourself:

  1. Choose your tool wisely (I recommend Notion, but I’m biased!)

  2. Identify the different areas you want to focus on.

  3. Create resources based on templates to archive all relevant information.

The resources in your second brain will become the library you access whenever you need information.

Some areas might be more passive, and that’s okay. As a content creator, these could be podcast or article ideas, which will be more dynamic.

You can create spreadsheets to update and showcase the different articles you’re working on and their stages, building a step-by-step solution to progress them without losing track.

Always cheering you on,

Fab ✌️

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