Have you faced any of the below scenarios in your work ?
You were working deep on a project, and then the project got over and you switched to some other work or project. Now, sometime later down the line, say a year or further later, you had to do some further modifications on that project. And when you start working on this new requirement, you realize that you no longer remember the nitty-gritties of the project and the deep insights that you gained earlier when you were working on the project are now lost on you ?
You are working on something which you do not understand fully, but you know only a little part of it, which is needed to get the work done. But since you don’t understand every aspect of it you feel you don’t understand it at all, and lose out even the little knowledge that you could have gained.
Do you look up to your seniors in your organization and think that how will you become as knowledgeable as they are ?
While working you made a mistake or you realized that the approach you took was not the best one and you could have done that work better or faster or both. And you thought that you will not repeat that mistake again. But, are you able to remember your learnings from that mistake and make use of it the next time, so that you actually don’t repeat the mistake ?
In recent times work and life has become more and more complex and challenging with each passing day. And the amount of information and knowledge that we are presented with each day is not helping in easing this complexity.
You are required to work effectively and quickly through complex problems. The demand from you has only increased, and it will only increase further as time passes and as you grow further in your career. And also, the rate of change in the world and in your life is only increasing with time, and thus only adding to the difficulty.
With such complex things, there is something to which we are not giving enough importance, which can ease our pressure a lot and help us build our knowledge incrementally and solidly.
The name of this skill is Personal Knowledge Management.
This is a term which I encountered recently, and it was a revelation for me also to know that there was a formal name for this methodology.
This skill that I am describing is to document the knowledge, learnings and insights you gain in your work, so that you do not lose out on these significant insights and learnings.
This method of documentation may look too simple to you, you may think that what is the big deal in it, but as you start using it in your work, its power will slowly but surely grow up on you.
This simple skill, will help in all of the problems we looked at above and much more, let us understand more about this method.
What benefits you can get with Personal Knowledge Management
Personal Knowledge Management can have many benefits, let us understand some of them.
- Consider, that your boss or someone else from your organization asks a question from you, and you have your knowledge base handy with you, and you are able to give that information quickly rather than having to dig out that information again. This can leave a lot of positive impression in the minds of your colleagues for you.
- You can refer to your knowledge base whenever the need arises and get up and running quickly. It will help you save a lot more time than it took in creating that knowledge base.
- When you understand something partially, document the part you understand, so that you don’t lose this part. And later when your learning about it increases further, add the knowledge to it. You will not be bound to understand it fully at one go, you can build your knowledge as it comes to you. This is very very powerful, if you do this correctly.
- You will be more open to learning new things, as you will be eager and look for things that you can add to your knowledge base. It will help you become a sponge for knowledge, i.e. someone who absorbs knowledge as soon as it comes to you.
- They say that the best way to understand something deeply is to teach it to someone else. And the second best way is to document your learning, and also this documentation can help you further when you have to teach it to someone else. The act of writing down has the power to improve your understanding.
- It will definitely help you in remembering the things more, as you need something and go through your notes, you will start to remember it more and more.
- If you document your mistakes or a pattern of yours that you want to avoid and refer to them at some time intervals, then it can become a powerful tool to improve your effectiveness at work, and avoid the mistakes you are prone to. However, a word of caution, don’t think that you will be able to completely get rid of all your mistakes, but for sure this activity will help you to reduce making the same mistake again.
The above list is not at all complete, and you can derive benefits from your Knowledge base in more ways. However, the points above are the primary benefits and I am limiting them to above.
Also I want to listen from you, what more benifits do you think you can derive from it. Let your thoughts run freely and think of further benefits you can get by creating your knowledge base.
I will feel my effort on writing this blog was successful, if it encourages you to start you on the fulfilling journey of knowledge documentation. I will be very happy to know if this helps you.
How to effectively do Personal Knowledge Management
Now we understand the benefits of knowledge documentation but is there any right and wrong way of doing it?
What do we actually need to do? What are the do’s and dont’s of this process?
When I started doing this no body taught it to me, and I started it because of my requirement. But it grew up on me as I used it more and more. Grew up so much that I am writing about it, and encouraging you to use this method.
Also the exact method of documentation can differ a lot from person to person, but I want to provide you with some pointers and way forward for you to explore.
You can create your knowledge base either in digital format or in written format in a diary or note-book. Whatever suits you most. I prefer to use a mix of both.
I like to write things on a Note Book or a Diary because it gives me more room for creativity and makes the process more fun. In this medium you can use tools like pens with different colors and highlighters, and create fun and creative documents.
This process need not be boring, and will be more fun, fulfilling and beneficial through the use of creativity.
The knowledge points you write should be like the nectar collected by honey bees, meaning it should be the essence the juice or the gist of the matter, such that when you go through it later you are able to understand things quickly and easily.
It is very important that the gain in time and effort you get by writing things down is more than the time you have taken in creating that document. Otherwise it will defeat the purpose of knowledge documentation and will become a burden.
Also a document may become more useful when you use it for multiple times. For example when you are trying to read and understand something for first time after you have created then it is possible that you may have missed out on some important information earlier, so you can now fill the gap and make the knowledge more useful and complete.
One downside of writing things in a note-book is that you don’t get the facility to search in the document which can easily be done in digital format. However you can have a deeper connection with the information you have written on a note-book.
There can be some information which is easier to store in digital format and some other better to store in written format. I will recommend to use both the methods and find out what suits your needs more.
Using this technique can be a very fulfilling journey for you, and can become a very strong tool for your career growth and life in general. Use this method, explore it and have fun with it by using your creativity.
This website is created as a result of learning from the Digital Deepak Internship Program. And I recommend to read below blogs as well created by my co-interns of the program.