Houjun Liu


A PKM is a tool (like this one!) to help manage your nodes and knowledge.

  • storing AND processing; just storing is just PIM not PKM
  • PKM = PIM (personal info management) + GTD + knowledge management
  • goal: narrowing “flood” and focus on useful areas
  • move from passive => active consumption
  • create, not just regurgitate

PKM and Context

  • store info based on context


  • What are you trying to organize
  • what are the inputs?
    • email? lectures?:
      • “reference” type emails
      • lecture notes
      • tasks?
  • what are you trying to make?
    • test? essays?
      • a time blocking schedule
      • studying for tests (i.e. for linear, etc.)
  • what does your process look like?
    • mishmash of topic based notes and content based notes
  • what parts of it would you like to improve?
    • article capture workflow: how to process random readings topic wise?
    • knowledge capture: how to come across new content and capture them somewhere?
    • todo/notes integration: task management and note taking currently lives separately, how to unify them?


  • how to take smart notes: arens

progressive summarization

progressive summarization is a technique in note taking that Tiago Forte developed to summarize text:

  • layer 0: reading
  • layer 1: copy/pasted parts from the reading
  • layer 2: bold relevant parts
  • layer 3: highlight bold parts to get crux of ideas
  • layer 4: mini summary
  • layer 5: remix (add links, etc.)


  • read
  • rewrite and summarize
  • engage by adding questions, thoughts, opinions, etc.
  • connect old and new ideas
  • think about the context of usage, not the topic

how to think better

  • reduce cognitive overload
  • “offload info”—put it on paper
  • test yourself often: listening and understanding are not the same
  • keep things simple: one task at a time
  • keep an open mind + “collective” new perspectives and mental models

new cycle

  • capture
  • curate
  • cultivate
  • connect
  • create