Are you struggling to remember the valuable insights from books, articles, and online content? Do you wish there was a way to keep all your knowledge organized, easily accessible, and actionable? Effective note-taking is the key to better learning and retaining valuable information. In his book “Second Brain,” Tiago Forte provides an excellent framework to enhance your note-taking skills, allowing you to retain more information that is actionable and easily referenced.

This blog post will look into the importance of note-taking and walk you through the process of building your own second brain using Tiago Forte's Capture, Organize, Distill, and Express (CODE) method. Get ready to take your note-taking to a whole new level 💪

Understanding the Second Brain Method

Tiago Forte, author and productivity expert, developed the Second Brain methodology to help knowledge workers improve their note-taking and information management. At its core, this method revolves around four key principles: Capture, Organize, Distill, and Express, or CODE for short. By following these principles, you can create a second brain that not only stores your knowledge but also facilitates creativity and innovation.

A well-maintained second brain can offer several benefits, including:

  • Making ideas concrete by putting them into words and organizing them.

  • Revealing new associations between ideas, leading to innovative solutions.

  • Incubating ideas over time, allowing them to evolve and mature.

  • Sharpening unique perspectives by continuously refining and updating your knowledge base.

Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte

Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte


Capture: Keep what resonates

The first step in creating your second brain is to capture information that resonates with you. This includes ideas, insights, and knowledge from both external and internal sources. External sources may include highlights from books, articles, courses, or meeting notes, while internal sources can consist of personal anecdotes, reflections, childhood memories, or daily journal entries.

To capture information effectively, consider using tools like Mindstone for saving articles and Twitter threads you’re interested in. The goal is to record valuable information as it comes, ensuring that no idea slips away.

Organize: Save for actionability

Once you've captured your notes, it's time to organize them for easy access and actionability. Tiago Forte proposes the PARA framework, which stands for Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives. Each folder serves a specific purpose in your second brain:

  • Projects: These are short-term efforts with a defined end date, such as a blog post, a YouTube video, or notes on a book you're currently reading.

  • Areas: These folders cover topics you're actively involved with daily, but aren't linked to a specific project. For example, if you have a blog about health and fitness or are learning software development, create separate folders for these topics.

  • Resources: This folder holds information related to interests that aren't part of your day-to-day life or ongoing projects. If you're gathering information about a future hobby like brewing beer, store it in this folder.

  • Archives: When something is no longer relevant or a project is completed, move it to the Archives folder. This keeps your second brain clutter-free and focused on current interests.

Add notes to the appropriate folders, and don't hesitate to move them between folders as needed. The goal is to create an organized system that works for you, not one that adds more resistance.

Distill: Find the essence

A crucial aspect of effective note-taking is distilling information down to its essence. Instead of saving entire articles or long passages, extract key highlights and put them into your own words. Tiago Forte calls this process “Progressive Summarization”.

To distill information, follow these steps:

  • On the first read-through of a note, highlight the sentences that best capture the main point.

  • On the second read-through, bold the most important words or phrases from the highlighted sentences.

  • On the third read-through, rewrite the main idea in your own words, creating a concise summary.

While this process may seem time-consuming, it helps you retain and internalize the information better. Focus on distilling only those notes that you keep revisiting, allowing you to maximize the benefits of your second brain.

Express: Show your work

The final step in the CODE process is to express your knowledge by creating and sharing content with the world. By transforming the information stored in your second brain into blog posts, newsletters, YouTube videos, or other forms of content, you're not only solidifying your understanding but also contributing to the collective wisdom of others.

Your second brain isn't meant to be a digital vault hidden away from the world. Instead, think of it as a digital library, where your ideas can grow, flourish, and inspire others.

reading brain

Embracing the Second Brain lifestyle

Now that you understand the principles of Building a Second Brain and the CODE method, it's time to make note-taking an integral part of your life. Don't worry if you need to tweak the process to fit your unique needs— the key is to start and adjust as you go.

To begin, choose a digital note-taking tool that suits your preference - of course, we might recommend Mindstone for that! You can organize notes, highlights and articles easily findable with a powerful AI search and tags. 

As you develop your second brain, remember to:

  • Consistently capture ideas and insights that resonate with you.

  • Organize your notes using the PARA framework for easy access and actionability.

  • Distill information to its essence using Progressive Summarization.

  • Express your knowledge through creative projects and sharing with others.


Building a Second Brain using Tiago Forte's method is a powerful way to revolutionize your note-taking habits and make the most of your knowledge. By consistently capturing, organizing, distilling, and expressing your ideas, you'll create a system that not only stores information but also nurtures creativity and innovation. If you’re ready to take the first step towards your second brain, why not give Mindstone a try?

Author: Andrea Saez