Home > Blog > Getting Things Done > How to Start a Personal Knowledge Database

With the imminent release of Personal Kneaver we really have a nice solution to manage our own knowledge. What is necessary now is to sketch the first steps.

First save time. This is going to be a new commitment adding its load of work. If you are like me you are already overwelm and fighting to save some time for your family. Here I come with yet another time consuming task ? No first we should try to immediately save some time on existing duties. Like this our return on investment will be before even investing time.

If you didn’t adopt it yet I suggest you take some hints from the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology. I’ll do a longer post of various methodology but let’s take some bits of it at once. This was designed some time ago already and technology was not the same. Various software exists today and are focused around your inbox. That’s good but not sufficient because browsing, videos, papers, notes are also a considerable input today. Also most of the help of these solutions is on task management while we are more a helping hand in keeping references.

One of they objectives is to capture all the things that needs to be done. The second is about making decision and planning and is out of our subject today. Capturing all things will help you to rest your mind.

Things we capture can be readily existing artifacts or new toughts. The first tool in Personal Kneaver is made for that: Kneaver Tray. It’s the swiss knife of capture. Let’s check the features and how and when to use them.

  • You get to an interesting page on the web ? click on the paper clip icon. It will save the bookmark, the contents of the page and a screen shot. Like this you are prepared to all cases including a disappearing page.
  • You received an interesting mail among the huge flow of incoming mail. Just clic the paper clip icon in Outlook and it will be referenced.
  • You received a paper, took some notes, draw a schema ? A single keypress will scan the document with the proper settings and save it in a well know place with a unique file name. I regularly use it to scan what ever is worth some interest and to virtualize my office. All incoming or outgoing mails is scanned first. Even at home it’s now a accepted rule. It’s very helpful to know that even in holidays it just takes to have an internet connection to be able to send again this precious document  from high school to register your kid for college. This is paperless life. For me it is a prerequisite to productivity and peace of mind.
  • When the volume of paper is way to large and papers are too large like newspapers, paperboard the other option is just to take photographs with your digital camera. A 5 megapixels camera will take a picture of a newspaper fine enough to read the text. A cell phone camera is sufficient to keep track of an ad or a signpost in the street. It even happens to me to use the camera while I am at my computer because for some reason the computer is engaged in another activity.  Just be careful to have enough light and no shadow. Of course all this is done exclusively for your own personal reference.
  • I will usually download videos and trainings so that I can follow them again without necessarly be connected to the Internet. It’s also because often I want to check a sequence.
  • While running a program something catch my attention, I want to kee track of it. Screen Shot is the solution. This can be for example while using a CAD Software like SolidWork or SolidEdge. They cannot be run by everyone at once. You want to capture a precise situation with some dialogs open: is not just the part you want. What is nice with Kneaver Tray having the tools in the same place, feeding into a single location, sorted by date and time is that it becomes easy to follow the devlopment of our thoughts even weeks after.
  • If screen shot is not enought because you want to capture a movement, a quick sequence of events you can capture a video of your screen as well. While take a rough cut like this your mike will be on as well and you can comment directly.
  • When I am tired of writing or already engaged in writing like now I will appreciate the ability to take recordings at once. No need to adjust the mike, select a file or think about cutting the record. It will start with one click and stop at the first long silence. The drawback of recording is that it’s very difficult to index and scan. Since you can take small notes after or durig the recording the notes will help you remember what it was all about. You don’t need to be an expert to use this feature. It’s one click away.
  • If recording is not enough to make your point use the CAMCorder option. Both you and your voice will be recorder. Nice to explain something about tacit knowledge, know how. Again, specially with the new laptops including a camera in the lid it’s a breeze.
  • Finally need also to take notes, quick, long, successives. A small popup window is ready for that. Always available. You can paste HTML and rich text in it. I use it a lot to keep some fragments of mails or pages. I read some news and I learn about a new technique, a resource person, I keep track like this. Back to GTD I will not use this to keep track of activable items (Tasks, ToDo lists) unless they are mere suggestions or of the someday class. The system allow only a single note to be open. If you have several ideas n your mind create one note for each, one after the other. If a tought is continuated create a new note don’t try to keep ideas grouped in the same place. At this stage it more like a journal and the objective is to have all of them jotted down. The sooner, the faster the better. We have in mind that you have toughts in the middle of another job and you want to stay focused on your tasks, not disrupt it. This is called “in the flow” capture. You don’t stopyour work you just enough to restart this exploration. Surely don’t finalize or take care of grammar or layout when taking notes. Anyway the capabilities are minimal on purpose.
  • Any feature you feel it could complement Kneaver Tray ? Just let us know. It’s very easy to extent it and open. It will be further more completed so to always stay current with the technology.

Now that we have an oversight of the tools available let’s see how to proceed.

What will you start first: Obviously you have some good will. How much time do you have ?

30 minutes : Download KneaverTray, install and start collecting thoughts and references. When you feel you have enought start organizing them.

1 hour: Start your Personal Kneaver directly hosted on our servers. It’ easy and predictable. You will be taken to the “My Knowledge” inductor. It’s a good ground to start with. It will take you into your very first center of interest. Than follow as above download KneaverTray, install and start collecting material.

Plenty of time: Install the Personal Kneaver right on your computer. It’s a little longer but you get more performance for intensive usage. Write as much as you can directly on Kneaver, use KneaverTray also.