The Modern Swipe File

15 Unexpected Uses for Digital Notes

Nick Morrison / Unsplash

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “What should I save in my digital notes?”

My typical answers include “highlights from books,” “website bookmarks,” and “social media favorites.” Those are the bread and butter of online content.

But they are also just the very tip of the iceberg.

There is a whole universe of kinds of information that are worth saving in what I call your “Second Brain” – a system of knowledge management that lives outside your head and helps you keep track of your most valuable knowledge. Once you start getting comfortable with the idea that you can store knowledge indefinitely in a reliable place, you will begin to see everything around you as potentially useful information.

In this case study, I’ll share 15 unexpected uses for digital notes, including concrete examples I’ve saved in my Second Brain to give you a taste of the stunning range and diversity of information worth saving. I’ll explain what I was thinking when I captured each one, how I might use it in the future, and include a link to the original notes.

Here’s the list:

  1. Marketing assets
  2. Mementos and keepsakes
  3. Troubleshooting steps
  4. How-to checklists
  5. Ideas for content
  6. Favorite resources
  7. Repurposed content
  8. Call/meeting notes
  9. Brainstorms
  10. Models or examples to follow
  11. Everyday observations
  12. Notes from courses
  13. Research findings
  14. Guidelines and procedures
  15. Project plans

1. Marketing assets

Learn more

This post is for
paying subscribers

Subscribe →

Or, login.

Read this next:


P.A.R.A. Part 3 — How to build serendipity into your productivity system

Resurfacing Tiago’s in-depth P.A.R.A series

13 🔒 Aug 22, 2020 by Tiago Forte


PARA on Paper

How I adapted the PARA process and transformed my knowledge management

48 🔒 Jan 7, 2022 by Christina Luo


The Weekly Review is an Operating System

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen calls the Weekly Review the “Master Key to GTD.” He claims it is the single most critical habit

19 🔒 May 26, 2017 by Tiago Forte


What’s Going On When Hard Work Seems Impossible?

Work and procrastination are controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine. We explore dopamine's role in productivity, and what it means for getting yourself unstuck.

36 🔒 Oct 23, 2020 by Jonathan Shi


Forget Forgetting. Build a Zettelkasten.

A networked note-taking method to help you remember more and write better

37 🔒 Mar 5, 2020