September 8, 2022

How to Build Your “Second Brain” for University

Your brain will never before have worked as hard as it does at university. You’re bombarded with a huge amount of information every day — not just for your classes but also when learning how to navigate campus, developing new relationships, and participating in a variety of activities. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed! The solution is to build a “second brain”: an external system for storing information. The specifics of how you do this will come down to personal preferences, but, in general terms, it needs to involve the following.

Create a Set of Principles to Follow

A second brain must have rules — otherwise, it may devolve into a mess of unorganized notes. Think about how you could categorize different areas of your life and where you’ll store the information.

For instance, you could divide your second brain into projects, each of which relates to a single goal. Within these projects, you may have tasks and subtasks. You should also have a way of storing resources related to your projects. Some of these resources may contain information you require often, whereas others may only be necessary later when you’ve progressed further with your project. Lastly, decide how you’ll archive notes related to a project that’s complete or just not relevant anymore.

To figure out all the above, it can help to know what tools you’re going to use. You may like to use a physical method, such as a binder, index cards, or notebooks. However, most students find it easier to update the information in their second brain when it’s in digital format.

You’ll need to think about how you want to be able to access your digital brain — perhaps using more than one device. You can then decide what kind of app to use. This could be a note-taking app, documents in a filing system you create, a project management app, or a to-do list. You may even like to use a combination of these, although you should bear in mind that it helps to keep your second brain as streamlined as possible.

Get Into the Habit of Using Your Second Brain

There’s no point in setting up a second brain and never using it or only using it infrequently. It needs to become something you turn to every day — it should be the place you go when inspiration hits you, to check what’s on your agenda for the week, to make sure you’re up to date with assignments, and to take notes in class.

Keep Improving Your System

It’s common to discover what you thought would work is less than ideal. instead of trying to manage with an inefficient system, constantly seek ways to improve your second brain. In fact, it’s worth allocating time to regularly review your system — to check it still meets your needs, shelf any projects that you’re no longer making progress on, and archive old notes.

Another way to make your time at university less stressful and more fun is to move into an apartment you love. For Carleton University off-campus housing, there’s the Revalie. Our student community will provide you with much more than just an apartment. For example, you’ll have access to common areas where you can meet other people like the terrace lounge, our Chef’s Kitchen, and the Clubhouse. Plus, you can work on projects in the Studio and the private study areas. Book a tour to check out all the great facilities.

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