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The best way to target your heating spend while keeping yourself comfortable is only to heat rooms when you’re in them. Aqara’s radiator thermostat E1 can help you to do that.

A radiator thermostat like Aqara’s is something you can install yourself, in just five minutes. It attaches in place of the ordinary valve on your radiator and lets you control the temperature of that specific radiator using an app on your phone.

Once it’s on, it’ll give you granular control over your heating.

It’s much easier to control the temperature when you can see it clearly on your phone screen, instead of crawling around on the floor trying to figure out what the lines on your radiator valve mean.

And you can schedule heating on that radiator as well. If the Aqara radiator thermostat is in your bedroom, even when you want the heat on in the rest of the house, you can have it switched off in your room. You can then schedule the radiator to come to life as you’re heading up to bed, or to warm you up first thing in the morning.

Aqara’s radiator thermostat also has a grouping feature that allows users to sync multiple radiators for easy scheduling around the home. Geofencing is also supported. That means if you go out and leave your radiator on, it will automatically turn down when you go outside. It can also be used to warm up your home just in time for your return.

Users can integrate the Aqara thermostat into their smart home setups, as it is compatible with all the key smart assistants and smart home platforms: Apple HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT. It’s also Matter ready.

And you’ll get even more from the Aqara radiator thermostat if you use it in conjunction with other smart home devices. For example, use it with a motion sensor to switch off the radiator when everyone has left the room, or schedule it to turn down at the same time a curtain or roller shade driver opens to let in sunshine at noon.

Aqara’s door and window sensor will alert you if a door or window is left open. Even better, it can control other devices on the same network, so if it senses an open window, it can turn down your radiators, so you don’t waste money heating up your back garden.  

And for even more control, if you use the Aqara radiator thermostat alongside the brand’s temperature and humidity sensor, you can use that sensor to regulate the temperature of your radiator.

Most TRVs rely on internal sensors to measure temperature. As you can imagine, given that they’re so close to the radiator itself, this may not give you a very precise picture of how warm the room is. So, if you want the radiator to come on when the room temperature dips below a certain threshold, or switch off when it gets warm enough, this is the most accurate way to do that.

If you have concerns over damp in rooms you don’t heat often, or where clothes are drying, this sensor can help there as well. Not only can you monitor home humidity levels on your phone via the sensor, but you could set up a smart dehumidifier – or an ordinary dehumidifier with a smart plug – to come on at a given threshold to control damp.

Aqara also makes a TVOC air quality monitor with an E-ink display, which not only shows temperature and humidity, but also tracks indoor air pollution. During the winter, when all your doors and windows are sealed shut to save heat, your home air quality can suffer. The TVOC sensor will let you track your air quality in real time. It measures VOCs in the air: these are all the gaseous pollutants that come from cleaning products, paint, glue, new furniture and personal care products and they can be bad for your health. Monitoring your home air quality for them is especially important if you’re decorating or renovating your home.

The TVOC air quality monitor can also help you to keep an eye on your home heating in the longer-term, with easy-to-view historical data tracking. To use any Aqara products, you’ll need to get an Aqara Smart Hub, which lets the devices talk to each other. There are several options, from the budget-friendly Smart Hub E1 to the comprehensive Smart Hub M2, which can connect up to 128 Aqara devices. You can buy all of Aqara’s products from its UK and US Amazon stores.

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How Therapy Can Help You Personally


There’s a lot of stigma that’s unfortunately associated with going to a psychologist. First off, many people still refer to them by the pejorative “quacks”. This insult, when examined, highlights this idea that only insane people seek out a mental health professional. Therefore if you are the one looking for help, you must be insane. If you weren’t you’d just be able to pull yourself out of whatever funk you’re in and move on. Clearly that’s not the case and is so, so wrong. What’s worse though is that because this notion is perpetuated in society, the person who probably already feels shitty then spirals further because they think to themselves that if they can’t help themselves they must be a loser. It becomes a value judgement against themselves.

I used to think this way. My whole life I’ve been praised for being smart, which is all well and good except when you can’t figure your own shit out in life. Then it becomes debilitating. I started to question everything around me, especially my self worth.

Alright, let’s get into it.

A phrase I hear from certain people that makes me laugh is “I’m self aware.” Their confident attitude amuses me because if they were truly self aware, they’d know that they couldn’t even begin to be “self aware”. Science quantifies that about 12% of our thinking is conscious and the other 88% is subconscious. That’s far more than half. To be self aware means you’re conscious of all your actions. Clearly that’s not the case.

Think about it from a practical standpoint – do you think and tell your heart to beat over and over every second? You’re lying if you said yes. Your unconscious mind controls the heart. And it oversees countless other aspects of your life in the best of ways. Look at it from this perspective, would you really want to have expend thinking energy toward bodily functions versus your creative pursuits? I know I don’t. I’m grateful that my body automatically does these vital functions without my conscious state being involved. I’m free to use my conscious mind and focus it toward my goals. My passions. And so are you.

However, there’s a catch.

Beneath the surface, our unconscious mind controls more than just our blood flow or digestion system. It is also responsible for the core of who we are and how we act. Ever hear some say they’re just hard wired that way? I don’t think it’s an accidental term. Our brain contains billions of nerve cells arranged in patterns that coordinate based on electrical signals. That’s a very dumbed down version of it, but you get the idea. If you want a more fuller explanation, check out the link to a video I provided in the description box. The point being though that our unconscious mind, for better or worse, is our hard wiring. And what this means is that while we often think that we’re making a conscious decision, we’re usually not. We’re choosing something based on a set of rules, if you will, determined by the unconscious parts of ourselves.

The goal of therapy is to make you aware of these various patterns. By bringing them to light, you can begin to alter them. Or perhaps there’s aspects you’re happy with. Well then you can now knowingly reinforce them in your life. That’s where all the talk about good habits comes into play. For more on that, check out my video Why Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect.

In the most purest form, therapy allows you to gain an understanding of yourself. It’s a perspective shift which can expand your mind. It’s why I believe ignorance isn’t bliss. True wisdom comes from understanding and paying attention to yourself and the world around you, which is really one in the same. How you view yourself will dictate how you view your world. Expand your mind and you expand your capabilities. That’s really what you’re after.

“1500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.” – Agent K from Men In Black

See, at no point should you look at therapy from a judgment perspective. The goal is not to stop being “bad” so you can be more “good”. It’s about understanding your behaviors and coming to terms with the parts of yourself you never knew.

One of the reasons many people go to therapy is to address a trauma in their life. This can be childhood trauma, it can be a painful breakup, survivor’s guilt, rape — you name it. Any one of those is an agonizing memory in that person’s life. Therapy helps to understand that torment. Only through perceptiveness can that harmful past be released from a person’s body and hopefully harnessed for positive use. Now, don’t get me wrong. I would never wish for anyone to suffer in this world. And yet, I know from my own experiences that the most difficult moments in my life have brought about the happiest of outcomes ultimately.

It’s all about how you see it and a psychologist can guide you to that. It’s no woo-woo bullshit or positive thinking. There’s a literal science to all of this. If you’re looking for evidence and inspiration of what I’m talking about because you don’t believe me, then look no further than Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. It is a memoir about his time spent in Nazi death camps, sharing its lessons for spiritual survival. Frankl argues that suffering can’t be avoided but we have the ability to cope with it if we so choose to do so. We can in fact find meaning in it and move forward with renewed purpose. And hey, I don’t know about you, but if a man who witnesses humanity in its most evil form can find a way to move past that trauma and find meaning, then I know I certainly can because my life is nowhere near as harsh as that.

That’s the wonderful thing about therapy though. It makes the seemingly impossible, possible. Consider this simple notion — when you think of something and tell yourself you can’t do something, your mind will take it as fact and engrain into its DNA. Not quite literally in this case, but metaphorically at least. However, if instead you ask yourself how can I do something then your mind automatically goes into solution mode. Amazing, isn’t it?

See, it’s all these little shifts that can unlock you. A better word for it though is tools. In life we all need the right tools to deal with things that come at us. Therapy provides this. And believe you me when I say that we could all benefit from therapy. As human beings we’re imperfect creatures. That’s okay, especially because part of being quintessentially human means we’re social creatures. We need other’s input and experience to help us navigate life.

And there’s many things that provide that for us: friends, family, books, movies, music, etc. That’s why I create the art that I do, in hopes that it serves someone else in some small way. And I’m sure it’s the same for you.

But therapy is ultimately a more concentrated, focused, educated and individual form of the above. Therapy is literally designed to help you overcome challenges. I cannot emphasis the individual nature of it enough. Every person is different and requires different tools to overcome what might otherwise be seemingly the same problem.

Which brings me to my final points about therapy. First, it’s just like dating. Not every therapist is going to work for you. There’s different personalities out there and you’re not going to mesh with every single one. Make an effort to learn about a therapist. Interview them beforehand and ask them how they best work with clients and see if it’s a style that you think would work for you. Chances are if you’re not feeling it, it won’t work.

And like with dating, you may kiss some ugly frogs before you find your prince or princess. If you try a therapist and it’s not a good fit, then break it off. No harm done.

In my final point, I really want to reiterate how important I think therapy is for everyone. Have you seen all the mental health awareness campaigns? I’m so glad that we as a society are bringing this issue to light. When I see so much violence in the world like school shootings or the ever increasing number of suicides, I can’t help but think how many of these instances could have been prevented with therapy. To me, therapy makes each of us more understanding, calm, tolerant, patient, etc. The world we live in is more connected than ever. Cultures and ideologies clash. We need tools to not have that happen. Even more so, the world around us is changing at lightning speed, unlike any other time in history. A fast shift like this leaves us disoriented so of course we need help to process our environment. Therapy helps with this, so don’t take it lightly. If you’re not seeing a therapist already, I highly encourage you to do so.

How Hydroponic Gardening Can Help You

Nothing tastes better—or makes prepping dinner easier—than walking out your back door to grab lettuce or tomatoes from the garden. Fresh produce contains more nutrients, tastes better, and is often cheaper than the fruits and veggies at your local farmers’ market. But gardening also requires more time and effort, not to mention space and a green thumb.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: hydroponic farming. It involves less space, time, money, and effort than traditional in-the-soil gardening, and yields spectacular results jam-packed with nutrients.

What is hydroponic gardening?

Hydroponics encompasses several methods of using nutrient-infused water to cultivate plants without soil. Aeroponic gardens, for example, use misters to bathe plant roots in nourishing water vapor, while aquaponic setups pump nutrient-rich water from tanks of fish or snails. Hydroponics also uses a number of different types of systems, from shallow, tabletop-style trays with irrigation lines for watering plants, to water-filled tanks full of floating plants with their roots immersed in a nutritive solution. Which to use will depend on what you’re growing and the space you have available, but tower systems—vertical hydroponic growing stands—are often the most popular, and make the most sense, for backyard gardeners.

No matter how you grow, your crops are nearly guaranteed to be more flavorful and nourishing than anything you’ll find at the supermarket.

That’s partially because keeping plants alive until they’re ready to be consumed prevents them from losing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. On the other hand, the average piece of store-bought produce was picked 10-11 days ago and traveled 1,500 miles to reach the shelf, its nutritional value shrinking every day. That could mean store-bought produce has less than half of its original nutrients, according to Troy Albright, co-founder of True Garden and Tower Farms in Arizona. So, that spinach or kale you picked up at the supermarket probably isn’t as packed with vitamins and minerals as you think.

Another bonus of hydroponic gardening? Plants in hydroponic systems get just the right amount of water—it’s easy to over- or under-water traditional beds—so they tend to grow faster. Sometimes as much as 20-30% faster, which means more greens, tomatoes and herbs for the family table in a lot less time.

This is supported by a 2014 University of Mississippi study that found hydroponic tower gardening yields were up to 53% higher than traditional in-soil crops and that the nutritional content of the aeroponically-grown leafy greens and fruits far surpassed their store-bought counterparts.

Hydroponic gardening saves water

Although hydroponics sounds like a gardening method that requires a significant amount of liquid, it actually needs much less than traditional in-soil agriculture. Since hydroponic systems are usually closed, recirculating systems, the same small amount of water is fed through plant roots again and again, minimizing waste. Most systems use at least 95% less water than would be required in traditional gardening, which could mean using less than 1 gallon per head of hydroponically grown lettuce instead of 20 or so on a head planted in the ground.

Vertical hydroponic farms save space

While traditional vegetable gardens are popular with rural residents and suburbanites with generous backyards, half the people in the U.S. live in urban areas. Fortunately, even urbanites in studio lofts can grow using hydroponic systems, as they take up 90% less space than a soil plot. Albright, for example, is able to grow 10 times more in his vertical hydroponic greenhouse than he would if he used traditional planting methods.

Growing vertically also means you can use rooftops, balconies, and even sunny corners of your living room (or not-so-sunny corners if you have the proper LED lights), to grow vegetables and flowers year-round. Hydroponic towers from Lettuce Grow—they call them Farmstands—take up no more than 4 square feet. Other models may have a slightly larger footprint—the Tower Garden from Tower Farms covers 6.25 square feet—but can produce about as much food as a 40-square-foot raised bed.

Easy growing

If the water and space savings aren’t enough to convince you, maybe the reduced effort involved in planting a backyard garden will. Whereas traditional gardening requires raised beds, numerous bags of heavy soil, fertilizers, compost, constant weeding, and probably pesticides and herbicides, hydroponic systems require none of that.

“Watering is automated, weeding is eliminated, plants are more resistant to pests and disease, so the farmer isn’t constantly battling them,” says Jacob Pechenik, co-founder of Lettuce Grow with wife Zooey Deschanel and fellow MIT graduate Greg Campbell. “There’s no green thumb required.”

The only potential downside to hydroponic systems is that they generally have to be plugged in. That means a continuous supply of power is required to keep the pump circulating water. However, the cost of electricity is usually quite manageable, Pechenik said.

There’s also the price tag to consider. Many all-inclusive, vertical hydroponic systems with pumps, lines, nutrients and 20-plus plant ports hover in the $400-$600 range, but smaller versions are available for as little as $200. Still, for raised beds, soil, irrigation lines, fertilizer, and gardening tools, you can often expect to invest at least twice that amount.

How to get the most out of your hydroponic garden

To get started with hydroponic gardening, figure out what plants grow best in the season, system, and region you’re looking to grow them in. Once you’ve got a list, “grow what you love to eat,” Albright says. That way, tending to and harvesting the fruits of your labor will be a joy.

Then, plant seedlings instead of seeds.

“Germinating seeds can be tricky, and success unpredictable,” Pechenik says.

Buying seedlings from a local nursery will not only get you off to the best possible start, but it’ll mean you’ll be harvesting your produce in much less time.

“With hydroponics we are able to bring food production closer to population centers with limited outdoor space,” Pechenik says. “It’s a more efficient use of time, resources, and space. And the flavor of the veggies you grow will be the icing on the cake, because they taste best—and deliver the most nutritional value—when you can harvest just before eating.”

Can Vaping Help You Quit Smoking?

Can Vaping Help You Quit Smoking?

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Can Vaping Help You Quit Smoking?

Vaping among teenagers declined sharply in 2023, the second consecutive year to see a big drop. With research and debate continuing about whether using e-cigarettes can actually help a person quit smoking traditional cigarettes, BU Today spoke with Andrew Stokes, a BU School Public Health assistant professor of global health.

You can also find this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and other podcast platforms.


As an alternative for those who’ve tried other FDA-approved measures, such as nicotine replacement, and failed, in theory, e-cigarettes may help some smokers to quit

The issue: most people in the United States taking up e-cigarettes are switching to use of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes

While the FDA has moved to get vaping flavors off the market, Andrew Stokes and others in public health are still extremely concerned about flavors’ appeal to youth


Dana Ferrante: This is Question of the Week, from BU Today. 

Can vaping help you quit smoking? In this episode, Doug Most, BU Today executive editor, talks to Andrew Stokes, a BU School Public Health assistant professor of global health, about the FDA’s recent authorization of e-cigarettes, and whether vaping can actually help adult smokers quit. While the FDA rejected flavored vaping products, Stokes considers how FDA authorization of e-cigarettes might impact vaping and e-cigarette use among youth.

Doug Most: Andrew, thanks for joining us. The FDA for the first time authorized an electronic cigarette to be sold in the United States. The agency signaled that the help certain vaping devices offer smokers to quit traditional cigarettes outweighs the risk of those vaping devices luring a new generation of smokers.

We’re going to sort through this with Andrew Stokes. Can vaping help you quit smoking?

Andrew Stokes: Well, thank you for having me, it’s a real pleasure to be here. In theory, e-cigarettes may help some smokers to quit. In particular, it may be an alternative for people who’ve tried other FDA-approved measures, such as nicotine replacement, and have failed with those solutions.

The issue is that today at the population level in the United States, most people who are taking up e-cigarettes are switching to dual use of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. While they may be reducing their cigarette consumption, we are seeing very few people in the population of cigarette smokers who are entirely switching from one device to the other.

Most: What was your reaction to the FDA’s announcement that they think it can help people quit traditional smoking. Were you surprised at that ruling?

Stokes: I was a little surprised, but to be honest, the FDA is kind of stuck in a tough spot. The FDA has to balance the significant harms of combustible cigarette smoking in adults with the epidemic of e-cigarette use in youth and young adults.

So they really had tough decisions to make here. And honestly, regardless of the ruling, there will be many unhappy parties. On balance, it’s hard to say what this decision will mean for public health; time will tell. But certainly there are many potential issues with their decision. And we are extremely worried about what this means for youth and young adults in this country.

Most: Do you think the FDA’s decision might have been influenced in [some] way by the study that came out that showed how dramatically vaping went down in the last year after the peak of the pandemic? Do you think the FDA may have been influenced by that at all?

Stokes: Well, that’s a great question. I think that most reasonable analysts view that trend as a kind of an anomaly in the context of long-term increases since 2024, 2024 or so. So I would say that most of us expect a rebound in e-cigarette use in youth and young adults as they go back to school and have more independence and are able to resume lives.

So I wouldn’t think that that was a major part of the decision.

Most: What are your concerns, and what has your research found in terms of the idea of traditional smokers using vaping as a means to try something different? Or, is the feeling that it really is a desire to quit and they see vaping as sort of the first avenue out?

Stokes: Another great question. There are clearly several phenotypes of cigarette smokers in the country in terms of e-cigarettes. You see some cigarette smokers pick up e-cigarettes for convenience, because of course cigarette smoking is not permissible in many areas, particularly inside, in stadiums, and so on. So for some people, it’s just a matter of convenience, for others, they’ve tried FDA-approved devices and therapeutics and they’re having trouble quitting, and they resort to e-cigarettes because of the satisfaction they feel with these products.

But what we’re finding is that many of the people who are taking up e-cigarettes are using both products, so very few have been able to successfully switch to just e-cigarettes. But notably, in terms of public health implications for those who can make the complete switch to e-cigarettes, we do believe that there is some harm reduction potential.

Most: What about the flavors? What impact do the flavoring[s] have on the appeal of e-cigarettes? Is that something that concerns you, especially with younger people?

Stokes: Very much. We are extremely concerned about flavors. And we are delighted that the agency has ordered thousands of vaping products off the market, including puff bars, which come in fruit and candy flavors and appeal to youth.

So, it does appear that the FDA has decisively moved to get flavors off the market. The caveat to that is that ultimately all devices are flavored in one way or another. One might say that even tobacco flavors will have appeal to youth. And in that sense, we’re certainly not in the clear even with these new decisions that have come through.

Most: Where do you see the FDA going from here? Do you see this as a one-and-done ruling, or do you think this is the first of several other rulings on e-cigarettes and vaping [devices] that could come from the FDA that [allow] a little more leniency on [the circulation of e-cigarettes]?

Stokes: The big next step is to ramp up robust regulations of traditional cigarettes. We have to remember that traditional cigarettes still kill 400,000 adults each year in the United States. It’s a leading cause of death in this country. And so I think the FDA will be very focused on what more regulation we can do to reduce traditional cigarette consumption, and have those users either switch to e-cigarettes or to other FDA-approved therapeutics.

We will have to see with [electronic cigarette company] JUUL; we don’t know what’s going to happen with JUUL. We know that they’re going through some of the kind of authorization processes, but we’ll see what happens.

Ferrante: Thanks to Andrew Stokes for joining us on this episode of Question of the Week.

If you liked the show, subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, and never miss an episode. I’m Dana Ferrante; see you next week.

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Can This Game Turn You Vegan?

The gaming world’s depiction of human violence is usually characterized as “glorifying,” however the internet definitely has an exception to that rule now with “That Cow Game”–a minimalist slaughterhouse simulator where you play the cow.

The big change? The cow is the foreman and the people are being slaughtered.

Alexey Botkov, a game creator from New Zealand and part of the Frogshark game studio, participated in a Ludum Dare competition where designers had 48 hours to create a game by themselves with the theme: “You are the monster.”

When you consider the Jekyll-and-Hyde games that give you a sinister purpose, or make you an anti-hero in pursuit of a greater evil than yourself, Botkov’s game is definitely a foray into something new. “The idea for the project sparked from a multitude of conversations I’ve had with my friends about meat production, factory farming, [and] humanity’s relationship with animals in the modern day,” he says.“There are almost 3000 submissions and in a lot of them you control a monster of some kind. I wanted the theme to carry a self-reflective quality for the player instead of a literal representation in the game.”

The visual style isn’t anything too graphic, either. The arterial spray from the bodies is heavily pixelated and cartoonish. Your character is reminiscent of a Minecraft cow as you move around a minimalistic slaughterhouse. Botkov intentionally made the humans the only flexible and moving forms. “The contrast in the imagery is brought forth by the fleshy form of the humans surrounded by all the blocky grey machinery. Some Carnivore predators often play with their food, and so do children. In the game you can walk in and headbutt the bodies, they will flail around and it’s fun to do in a perverse kind of way. I wanted that to be the conflicting feeling. It feels somehow wrong, but it’s fun, and it’s not an uncommon feeling. People enjoy the taboo,” says Botkov, “playing with fire, getting away with things, and I find that somewhat relevant.”

That Cow Game

Because of the competition, Botkov was working within a short time frame, so the game certainly could have gone farther given time. He offers a bit of insight on what would have come from another few hours.

“If I was to add anything it would be sound and a variety of voices coming from the humans as you bump into them,” he says. I also didn’t intend for this to be a game in a traditional sense where you had to do stuff or achieve anything, but rather a play space that you can navigate and decide the meaning of.”

That absence of things actually does work in Botkov’s favor. As the cow (the main character), you’re really only tasked with walking back and forth along the assembly line for as long as it takes you to realize there’s nothing you can do to affect the process. Whether that moment was intentional or not, it left an unsettling feeling hanging in the air. I kept wondering: Was there something I can do? Am I missing something to stop this?

That Cow Game

There was even a small sense of panic as I moved back and forth along the line. From decades of gaming experience, I had a sense of dread that something was coming, whether in the form of a sudden zombie-like uprising of the meat, or some sort of jump scare.

Nothing came. The meat mill just kept moving.

The question you’re probably asking at this point is whether Botkov is vegetarian, or vegan.

“I eat meat and I am a monster, really,” he says. “More so because I’m aware of the issues, yet I’m still complicit. I guess [with the game] I’m questioning my own relationship with the whole thing and trying to figure out what my values are.”

If that was his purpose, he seems to have succeeded. Botkov told us it’s forced a lot of discussions about the topic, and that it’s been a useful vehicle for reflection. “It can be hard to look at oneself and one’s actions in search of understanding. Creating art though, you have a thing that you’ve made, and it means something – you can ask those questions and seek your own truths that come from a mysterious place. One thing I can say is that I know more, now having made the game, than I did before, when it was still a thought in my mind.”

Download the game here.

What Is Personal Knowledge Management & How It Can Help You

Every now and then, an idea or concept takes the productivity nerds of the internet by storm.

We get so obsessed that it breaks through to the mainstream, and you can’t seem to go anywhere online without seeing people talk about it.

It doesn’t happen often; the last time I remember it happening was with bullet journaling in the early 2010s.

But right now, it’s happening again.

Personal knowledge management is taking over the internet.

And even if you don’t get hearts in your eyes over productivity systems like me, this one’s something any digital marketer will want to pay attention to.

So here’s what you need to know.

What is Personal Knowledge Management?

Personal knowledge management is the concept of creating a process or system for collecting and storing information for future use, particularly for writing or content creation.

Digital hoarding doesn’t help you use the information you’re collecting; it makes it harder.

Personal knowledge management (PKM), on the other hand, involves creating systems, adding your own context, and making information easy to surface when you need to reference it.

While traditionally more popular in academic writing, it’s recently started gaining popularity in online writing as well.

Some of the established PKM systems popular with online creators and marketers include Zettelkasten, Building a Second Brain, and Linking Your Thinking.

But regardless of what popular framework you use (or whether you use one at all), there are a few steps you’ll want to make sure your personal knowledge management system includes:

Capturing information and ideas as you find them.

Processing them to add your own context.

Incubating the ideas until you need them.

Using them to create new things.

Let’s take a look at each one in detail.

Step 1. Capture Ideas and Information

The first step of personal knowledge management is to make a habit of saving any information or ideas you think are useful or inspiring as you come across them.

In the language of David Allen’s Getting Things Done method for planning and managing tasks, this is called developing a “capture habit.”

The ultimate capture goal is to have a way to easily save these things, no matter where you come across them. Don’t worry about adding detail. You can organize and filter them later.

For example, my own “capture” inboxes include:

A notebook that sits beside me when I’m working.

An iOS note I can access from my iPhone’s home screen and add to via Siri.

A similar note on my laptop.

Into these inboxes goes anything I think I might want to reference in my work. I add things manually as I come across them, and also have automations from IFTTT and Zapier sending things there.

In the past week, I’ve captured:

Articles I want to link to in my own as a reference (like this one).

Marketing campaign ideas based on conversations with customers.

A messaging and branding idea based on a recent competitive analysis.

Current requirements for Facebook ad copy length and image dimensions.

Screenshots of website and graphic design I like.

By making things easy to capture, you can keep it without taking you away from whatever you’re doing at the time.

However, without the rest of the process, it’s just digital hoarding.

This is where the other steps, like processing, comes in.

Step 2. Process and Add Your Own Context

Processing is when you go through your inboxes and deal with everything you’ve saved recently, adding enough context that Future-You will be able to find it and use it when you need it.

Depending on how much information you capture, you’ll probably want to do this weekly or biweekly.

As you process pieces of information, you can:

Delete anything you don’t find useful or relevant anymore.

Add notes to your future self to create context (why you saved something, what you like about it, which parts you want to use later and for what, etc.).

Add metadata like tags to make searching and filtering your PKM system easier.

Then, you’ll move the information from your inbox to wherever it should be stored more long-term.

For example, the items from my inbox notes will be moved to separate folders for reference articles, future project ideas, voice of customer data, inspiration, and my Facebook ad strategy.

This way, each piece of information is wherever I need it to be — where I’m going to use it.

Or when I’m planning my content calendar, the list of all saved campaign ideas will be there in my content dashboard for me to choose from.

Step 3: Incubate Your Ideas

Once you have things organized, you’ll want to let them sit there. Leave them be.

Yes, really.

When you’re actively engaging with an idea, like organizing it in your PKM system, you’re making new connections for your brain.

Your brain then needs time to passively process those connections and draw conclusions from them.

If you’ve ever had an “aha!” moment while doing something completely unrelated to your work, that was the incubation effect at work.

For information that you saved “just because,” or because it inspired you, you can let it sit until you need it — until you’re working on the relevant project or writing the relevant piece of content.

For things you’re actively working on, it can be harder to find that buffer time, but it’s still possible.

Even switching over to another task or taking your lunch break will help your brain with background processing related to the one currently at hand.

Step 4: Create New Things

Finally, it’s time to use the knowledge and information you’ve collected.

The reason PKM is so great for anyone whose job requires writing or creation is that it makes it possible to never start from scratch.

And the blank page is one of the most overwhelming parts of creating anything.

Having a knowledge management system gives you a way to store and organize ideas and references as building blocks.

Then any time you need to start a project, you just select and combine the relevant building blocks into a finished piece.

For example, writing a blog post might mean assembling a combination of personal thoughts, expert quotes and statistics, and examples you’ve saved to your PKM already.

Planning an ad campaign means pulling the relevant competitor information, graphics you like, and creative requirements you already have to easily put together a project brief.

Essentially, when you have a PKM system you regularly save things to and maintain, the research and brainstorming parts of any project will take a fraction of the time.

Start Building

The sooner you start building a personal knowledge management system, the sooner you’ll start saving time and effort on almost any creative task.

We’re consuming more content and information constantly, so you want to start your PKM system soon.

I hope you now have what you need to get started!

More Resources:

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