The Mind Garden

Hey, well that's just like...Your opinion, man.

Earlier in the week I wrote about Flow and a general methodology on how I handle my Inbox.

Another area where I’ve been in a constant state of evolution over the years is how I treat other sources of information, retain knowledge and continuously learn across the constant barrage of daily information. One of the most useful things I’ve learned about is treating it as a “mind garden”.

Instead of simply ‘consuming’ and forgetting articles/blog posts/podcasts, I try to treat anything that I want to use later as “seeds” for my mind. Joel Hooks has an incredibly insightful way to view this type of method of information collection and curation:

A garden is usually a place where things grow.

Gardens can be very personal and full of whimsy or a garden can be a source of food and substance.

What makes a garden is interesting. It’s personal. Things are organized and orderly, but with a touch of chaos around the edges.

Just like plants in the garden I’ve got posts that are in various stages of growth and nurturing. Some might wither and die, and others (like this one you are reading) will flourish and provide a source of continued for the gardener and folks in community that visit.

It’s somewhat of a pivot from where I started a few years back where I was constructing a digital commonplace journal. There I was just dumping quotes and articles in a more traditional fashion.

For centuries, authors and thinkers have kept commonplace books: focused journals that serve to collect thoughts, quotes, moments of introspection, transcribed passages from reading — anything of purpose worth reviewing later.

The curation process for me has evolved into a ‘mind garden’; content has transformed into more of a living collection of connected nuggets, discovery is part of the curation — and the best part is that it extends into a variety of tools.

Today, my personal mind garden spans across:

  • My daily journal in Day One

  • RSS feeds and blog reading in Feedly

  • Article storage in Pocket

  • Note taking in Apple Notes

  • To-Do lists in Things

  • Highly curated lists and topic searches in Twitter.

While this is continues to evolve, I’ve now been working on linking where possible to connect the tools, and consistently tag. The benefit has been that I can search and curate ideas consistently, all in support of allowing my mind garden to grow.