How I use Roam and Notion for Personal Knowledge Management
After my grandfather passed away, we got access to his computer and his files. We were amazed by what we found. We knew he liked to collect notes but had no idea how much he had gathered during the last years of his life. There were hundreds and hundreds of Word documents, filled with jokes, quotes and articles — in Dutch, English, French. A goldmine of information but without any structure and impossible to navigate.
He was clearly a note-taking nerd before that was even a thing, without access to any of the wonderful tools we have now.
It must be genetic because, in the last year, I have immersed myself in the world of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), using Roam and Notion as my main tools. In the beginning, I was telling myself I needed to choose between the two. Most of the articles I found would compare Roam and Notion against each other. The way I read it— you’re either a Roam person or a Notion person. I couldn’t make a decision, so I decided to try out both.
After many hours of playing around, I have found a system that works well for me. In the spirit of publicly documenting my online writing journey, I will outline in this article why and how I use both Roam and Notion to store, retrieve and create content from a beginner’s point of view. This is not an in-depth guide or explanation of the features. This is purely meant to show you how I use the platforms and how you can use them too.
What’s all the fuss about PKM?
Let’s start with a bit of context around PKM and what it means to me. In the words of Tiago Forte, a leading productivity expert:
Personal Knowledge Management is the practice of capturing the ideas and insights we encounter in our daily life, whether from personal experience, from books and articles, or from our work, and cultivating them over time to produce more creative, higher quality work.
We live in extraordinary times, with direct access to a never-ending flow of information and knowledge. To really thrive in this Information Age, we need systems to manage this flow, absorb the relevant information and apply it to our lives and careers.