ratthing
I've been a Brain user for a very long time, and have recently encountered an issue I would like a little help on.

When I am in a meeting, either face to face or on the phone, there are times when I need to find something in my Brain because it comes up in the conversation.  A URL for example, or an email message that has something we are talking about.

Typically, it takes me anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes to find this info that I need.  Meanwhile, someone else has beat me to the punch and found the info sooner.

So my question is:  What strategies do you use to be able to find stuff quickly in your Brain?  I'm already looking at greatly extending my use of tagging, but I was wondering what other tips you might have. 

Thanks!
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zenrain
My primary technique is making sure when I name something it's something I can recall. Instant search is the most efficient way to retrieve your data and it only searches on names, so I tune naming for that. I make use of contextual naming also, so if I can't think of the exact name I can search for it's parent. 
For example, I have a bunch 'o SharePoint sites bookmarked. I link them to the Parent "SharePoint" and the name is "site, SharePoint". If I'm not sure of the name this means I can do an instant search on SharePoint and find all the sites listed. 
Don't forget you can use multi-word search. This means I could search on "sha conn" to find the "Connectivity, SharePoint" site.
 
E-mails may be trickier, especially if you add a lot of them. To assist in finding them I'd go back to linked thoughts. It may be trickier to find an e-mail in instant search, but it would be a lot easier if I link it to who it came from, or a project/subject. Some sort of grouping that would make it easier to find and then drill into the e-mails.
 
If instant search fails, then I switch to advanced search which searches the notes, attachment text, and labels. Once I've typed it in instant search and not found it, I can access this quickly by tab-entering (or enter if you have Search first and Create second).

Here's where I can optimize my search. If I have a Type of e-mail, after the search window comes up I can click the Advanced button and choose the e-mail Thought Type from the drop-down.
Another optimization, select a parent thought you know it's under (somewhere) and click the Only Under Active check box (it only appears once you have search results in the window). Or you can run a report based on date or some other data point, choose Edit > Add Report Results to Selection and then check the Selection box in the search window.
 
If I had a hard time finding something via instant search, when I do find it I make sure to link to a related thought that I did come across, or include keywords in the notes or label to make sure I can find it again in the future. I optimize.
This is the main argument against a standardized (i.e. external) categorization system. If you create and prune your database so it reflects the way you think rather than trying to fit your data into a box you are making it more intuitive and your data easier to find. Or at least, this is what I've learned over the years. [smile]
macOS 10.13
TheBrain 9.0.250
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ratthing
Thanks so much for this info!  I think I just need to start being a bit more cognizant of naming thoughts, and get to be more of a wizard at doing searches. 
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metta
I rely very heavily on the Instant Search function.

I also try to use fairly standard naming conventions. For example, parent thoughts that are major headers in my brain include special icons, special characters, and all caps to set off these particular thoughts:

<Star Icon> = THOUGHT NAME =

Common abbreviations are used to save space and group common items. For example, WP is often added to any/all thought names related to Wordpress.

Dates are added to thought names, when appropriate

In addition, I use more than 55 different thought types with assigned icons and special colors which, naturally, make it much easier to find specific kinds of thoughts:
> Headers
> Featured
> Samples
> Warnings
> Questions
> Documents
> Hints & Tips
> Media (Graphics, Music, Audio, Video, etc.)
> Software
> People, etc.

I also use a fairly standard set of more than 50 tags which makes it visually easier to identify individual thoughts within a cluster of thoughts:
> Priority
> Pending
> Past Due
> Review
> Good
> Better
> Best
> Keep

I also make frequent use of jump thoughts as a way of displaying relationships between related items, and I use about a half-dozen link types (in different colors and widths) to highlight specific types of relationships:
> Keep
> To Do
> Priority
> Compare
> Temporary

In my mega brain (almost 22,000 thoughts), the end result would undoubtedly appear to be very congested and "busy" for someone who did not gather and organize the data themselves.

However, all of these strategies allow me to relatively quickly and easily find exactly what I'm looking for without ever relying on the "advanced" search function (which for some mysterious reason has not been working in my mega brain for years).

Also, I "garden" my mega brain on an ongoing basis whenever I see the need in a specific area. This allows me to consolidate and organize related thoughts while reducing the risk of creating any duplication in my brain.

Hope this feedback may be helpful to others who are looking for ways to optimize their use of TheBrain.
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pthompson
All great ideas metta. Thanks for sharing.
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metta
Always appreciate your feedback and support, Patrick. Many thanks! [smile]
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zenrain
Hi Metta (and anyone else who might have a large database and is interested in sharing...) [smile]
Great post. 
Would you mind sharing a bit more detail? It's ok if you don't have time, but I think it might be interesting if you do.

How do you get to your to-dos? I noticed you have a link type of to-do and some tags that could be classified as to-do'ish also. Do you run reports and then access them that way? Are they primarily visual so when you view an area, you can easily see what needs to be done? Is it a combination?

Sort of related, if you do use reporting, do you use them for other things also?

What are your most frequented areas of your Brain? 22,000 is a large database, I'm guessing quite a bit of that is archived information/projects/notes. What are your main uses for your "living" areas of your brain? Do you find you organize or link things a certain way?

Finally, what are the "grey" areas of your brain? That is, what areas do you find you don't use as often as you want to, and how do you try to incorporate them back into your living areas.

macOS 10.13
TheBrain 9.0.250
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metta
Thanks for your feedback, ZenRain. I genuinely appreciate your interest and your insightful questions, and I'll be glad to share more details -- hopefully this weekend.

However, I'm involved in a time-intensive client commitment right now which will keep me busy today and tomorrow -- so I appreciate your patience with this brief delay.

With appreciation and more soon,
Metta
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kiatlc
@metta interesting sharing, are you ready to elaborate further?
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metta

Thanks for your interest, kiatic!

As you can see, life interrupted my follow-up on this discussion. 😉

However, some time ago I came at this question another way by sharing a mini-demo of how I use thought types. Have you seen it by any chance?

This demo provides a quite a bit of info about how I find things in my megabrain. (Since I'm extremely visual, the use of thought types, each with a unique icon and color, has helped immensely in this regard.)

After reviewing this demo, if you have any other questions, just let me know.

In the meantime, I'll follow-up now on a few of zenrain's other questions above:

Q: How do you get to your to-dos?
During my first 6 years of using TB, I experimented several times with using TB for task management, but I always found it hard to get a good overview of everything that was due across projects. I was also frustrated by not being able to order tasks (thoughts) manually in the plex.

However, after learning more about Andreas' Kanban Brain, I've recently been experimenting with my own modified version of this task management strategy. The jury is still out on whether or not I'll be completely satisfied with this approach. However, I'll be glad to share more about this experiment (if others are interested) sometime next year -- after I've had a chance to continue working with (and tweaking) my current set-up.

Q: I noticed you have a link type of to-do and some tags that could be classified as to-do'ish also.
I've built in some intentional redundancy, which is surprisingly helpful in quickly finding information in my megabrain. This strategy is explained in more detail here.

Q. Do you run reports and then access them that way?
No. I've done virtually nothing with reports so far, at least in terms of task management. Instead, my strong preference is to try to keep everything immediately visible and accessible in the plex, and in my task management notes.

Q. Are they (your to-do items) primarily visual so when you view an area, you can easily see what needs to be done?
Tasks are definitely visual, and they are currently displayed 2 different ways:
> as thoughts ordered (sorted) in the plex by thought types and
> as highlighted (color coded) thought links in my primary task management notes.

Q. if you do use reporting, do you use them for other things also?
I use reports primarily to check for orphaned and parentless thoughts. However, I rarely need to do this since I work diligently to make sure everything remains connected one way or another.

Q. What are your most frequented areas of your Brain?
> Task management is currently the hub of all my brain activity.
> In turn, this hub links out into whatever projects are current, whether it be research, client work, web site planning, writing or other personal projects.

Q. 22,000 is a large database, I'm guessing quite a bit of that is archived information/projects/notes.
My megabrain now is over 35,000 thoughts. Since I use TB as a commonplace book as well as my task and project management hub, this collection represents 6 years of bookmarking web sites, resources, graphics, ideas, quotations, etc. -- along with all past and current project planning, admin, templates, etc. It also includes a significant percentage of my original writing.

Q. What are your main uses for your "living" areas of your brain?
See above.

Q. Do you find you organize or link things a certain way?
I use a very strong parent/child hierarchy to keep my thoughts organized -- and I link heavily to related jump thoughts and multiple parents, when/as appropriate.

I also make sure no thoughts are ever left parentless or orphaned.

Q. Finally, what are the "grey" areas of your brain? That is, what areas do you find you don't use as often as you want to, and how do you try to incorporate them back into your living areas.
The grey areas are either archived resources or resources that I'm not currently using.

There are not, however, any areas that "I want to use" but don't except to the extent that there are never enough hours in the day to do everything I'd like to do! ;-)

I also do not feel the need to try to incorporate "grey" areas of my brain back into the "living" areas. If the "grey' areas are well named, well typed, well linked and properly gardened, they will show up again whenever they are needed either through searching and/or through the heavy jump and parent linking that keeps everything connected.

Hope this helps, and if you have any other questions, just let me know.

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