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 10.14.6
TheBrain 10.0.54
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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 10.14.6
TheBrain 10.0.54
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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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ruudhein
@Metta -- that was a really interesting read. I had bookmarked this, and your megabrain hints & tips brain, to come back to; it was well worth the read.

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My megabrain now is over 35,000 thoughts.


That difference averages out to about 19 entries a day. You should have about 1200 more entries today 🙂

I wonder if with that quantity a number of those entries are logging ("did this", "did that", "spoke with x", "called y")?
Using: Evernote | FilterizeDynalist | FeedlyPrintFriendly | TheBrain v11.0.42.0

(Windows 10)
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metta
@Ruudhein ~

Thanks for your feedback, Ruud. Glad you found the review to be worthwhile.

FYI, your thought count estimate is very good, actually. I'm at almost 36,000 thoughts now in my megabrain -- and this does not count all 18 of the version 10 test brains I've created, the largest of which now contains almost 1400 thoughts.

As for the type of content I'm logging, I never track completed tasks. With the exception of help desk ticket notes and call notes that I keep for future reference, any task that is finished is deleted.

In addition, I recently moved all of my active task management out of my megabrain, so even my current to-do items are no longer included in this thought count.
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ruudhein
So the Kanban-style setup didn't really work for you? Where are you moving to?

What would you say makes up the bulk of a day's new entries?
Using: Evernote | FilterizeDynalist | FeedlyPrintFriendly | TheBrain v11.0.42.0

(Windows 10)
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metta

@Ruudhein ~

You wrote: What would you say makes up the bulk of a day's new entries?

I use TheBrain primarily as a curation tool, so my megabrain is a huge collection of personal and work-related bookmarks, graphics/images, documents, and project resources/planning notes. With the exception of my old task-related thought types, a quick review of the thought types in my mini-demo brain will illustrate the type of information I typically save.

You wrote: So the Kanban-style setup didn't really work for you? Where are you moving to?

As I've indicated elsewhere in the forum, I've run into several challenges when trying to use TheBrain for task management:
(1) TheBrain provides no quick and easy way to manually organize (sort) thoughts in the plex.
(2) I felt like I could never get a "big picture" overview of all my tasks in TheBrain.
(3) I'm still getting a significant number of error messages in TB9|10 (including sync errors) -- and I keep bumping into a variety of fiddly bugs as well as basic features that are still missing.
(4) The TB9|10 web client is not yet fully functional.
(5) There are no tables and very few custom formatting options in TB9|10 notes editor, which I rely on quite heavily, so I am still managing my megabrain in TB8.

In addition, the challenge with using the Kanban style of task management is that, in my megabrain, I want to have full use of the pin area for a variety of different types of pins. However, I found that my task management pins (for various thoughts, types and tags) took up most of my pin real estate. This, in turn, meant I needed to move all my tasks into a different (separate) brain, so (with all of the other challenges I've run into) it wasn't a big leap for me to consider using an entirely different application for managing my tasks.

Fortunately, the software application I'm using now (RightNote) has completely resolved all these challenges -- and it has provided many additional benefits:
> Tasks can be quickly and easily sorted (manually) by using either arrow keys or an automatic alpha-numeric sort.
> I can quickly and easily scan my entire task list and get a good "big picture" overview of everything that is current, upcoming, pending, past due and/or deferred.
> There are also a wide variety of different note editors (see attached screenshot), and 2 of these editors include FULL RTF formatting and tables.
-- I've also further customized my notes by creating templates with my own preferred style of bullets, checkboxes and responsive tables.
> Full outlining and a basic journal are both included.
> Search is super fast and deep -- and it highlights the text I'm looking for in a static search result (preview) window.
> Filters are lightning fast, and they even work on special characters.
> I can quickly and easily access a long and customized list of favorites (shortcuts).
> I can also rapidly change (customize) the interface of the application with a variety of keyboard shortcuts.

In addition, RightNote is portable -- and, for those who are interested, RightNote also integrates and syncs with EverNote.

Best of all RightNote is rock solid and bug-free -- and it is surprisingly affordable, given all the available features.

Of course, RightNote will never replace TB8 as my go-to application for information management and curation, but RightNote is by far and away the best tool I've found for task management (after 10 years of testing more task management applications than I care to count).

The one weakness I've found with RightNote is that it does not have a robust reminder system -- but this has not been a problem for me since I've already been relying for years now on 2 other great (feature-rich) apps for managing all of my short and long-term reminders:
> Notezilla (Sticky Notes)
> VueMinder (Calendar)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
RightNote Editor Options

Click image for larger version - Name: RightNote_Options.png, Views: 229, Size: 15.97 KB
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metta
Afterthought: If anyone is interested in testing the task management features I'm currently using in RightNote, just let me know. If time permits, I'll see if I can create a template based on the task management set-up I'm currently using.

Please Note:
> After your free 30-day trial, RightNote will revert to the free version and the "task list" feature will no longer be available unless you choose to upgrade to the Pro version.
> I have no financial interest in recommending RightNote. I've simply found this application to be extremely useful, versatile and reliable.
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