Personal Information Management Personal Well-being

Personal Knowledge Flow. Find the missing links of your mental process

This article is a part of Series: The Knowledge Workflow

First, let me clarify the right meaning of the topic. It is not about knowledge management. It is personal knowledge ‘flow‘. How your mind converts the information to knowledge and the process of using the knowledge.

Look the chart below, most of the concept is self explanatory.

Personal Knowledge Flow

In the age of ‘Information Overload‘, we have access to billions of terra bytes of data. We are aware of the tools and resources to find relevant, coherent and meaningful information.

All we have to do is filter them, categorize them and consume them. Now we know ‘what is what?’. The basic knowing. This part is mostly passive (Listening to a lecture, a TED Talk, watching a video) and passive. I would say, partially active (eg. reading an article like this).

Understanding (The door)

When you really find that important and critical to your knowledge, you move further to the stage of active learning. Where you use your attention to learn based on the information available. This opens your mind to the door of a new concept, the actual mental process of learning starts here. When you open the door, you can see what’s inside, but you can’t see it all.

Reflective (The Room)

A concept or an idea you read to understand is the brainchild of someone who wrote/found that idea. Originally, the idea was in the form of non-verbal visuals and animations in the mind of the creator or founder of that idea. He transformed that idea to a verbal (Book, article, speech) and visual (charts, sketches) content. If you can recreate the concept in your mind, visualise it in a non-verbal form after resonating lot with the core idea/concept, that is where the deep understanding lies. You can now see the concept in your mind inside-out. It’s like you’re inside the room, where you can see all the things very clearly than you were standing at the doors at the previous level.

Comprehending (The Vault)

Most people miss this part in the process of learning. You were in the room, you have to be thoughtful to filter the most important and valuable takeaways from the concept (or room). It should be like crux of the concept. Very correct, clear, concise and coherent. It will be like the vault in a room.

Everyone has this experience of understanding the concepts a level more deep when they try to teach it to somebody.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Albert Einstein.

So, if you miss this step of summarising/comprehending in your own words you will not retain the concept for long and intact.

Knowledge – Association

Approximately at the age of 12, the brain stops growing in terms of volume(size). But mentally it never stops developing and changing. Likewise, the fundamental knowledge of your mind is solid. Anything that you learn further will be added to your mind with a link to your fundamental knowledge. Over the course, you build a numerously connected knowledge. Anything you add to it is added with links to your existing knowledge sphere.

For example, a Circle is a circle. When we accepted it, we never argued why it is called a circle. It’s fundamental knowledge. A colour red is red, we see, we accepted it as red. It is another fundamental knowledge. Now you learn what sphere is? so based on the basic principle knowledge of circle, you can learn sphere is 3d shape which looks like a circle from every direction you see it. Let’s assume we now try to learn a complicated concept, the shape of an apple. Now you add the knowledge of apple to your mind, with the help of sphere and red colour.

The chance of forgetting or losing your learned knowledge is very high, if you don’t associate your learned knowledge to your existing knowledge. I prefer connecting with my fundamental knowledge blocks.

How we use the knowledge?

Intelligence Vs. Creativity

Creativity is using knowledge with Imagination, whereas Intelligence is applying knowledge. The intelligence of the person is measure how he uses his knowledge and when. The ability to mix and match your knowledge to solve different problems makes you intelligent. While creativity is imagination process mostly not intended to solve any problem.

Creativity is a subconscious process. Intuition is also a subconscious trigger that aids conscious decision making. Both are backed by your abstract knowledge but not reliant to it directly.

Experience & Wisdom

The consequence of any decision (as a result of intelligence) is experienced personally. By evaluating the results, you can fill the gap between expected/predicted and actually happened. This helps you to fine tune your intelligence.

The constant and any impactful experiences strongly imprint on your sub-conscious (as Life lessons).

This later helps in tuning your intuitions and forming wisdom. Experience is subjective, while wisdom is objective. Wisdom is an abstract form of intelligence which is event-based, not the subject based (people involved, time and place). Multiple similar results of subjective experience form wisdom. That’s why wise quotes are in few lines.

If you like this article, subscribe to the newsletter. I will reveal few practical techniques to improve your personal knowledge flow in future articles.


The brain growth summary: 33% of the final weight at birth, 50% at 3 months, 66% at 1 year, 95% at 6 years, final weight reached around the age of 12 years. The remodelling of brain tissue then continues throughout life, but does not result in significant variation in size or weight, except in the case of pathology.

In this series of The Knowledge WorkflowPrevious: Next: Note-taking workflow: To build and extract knowledge from digital notes >>

About the author

Sakthitharan Subramanian

Systems Thinker | Academic Researcher | Productivity Enthusiast | Loves Minimalism, Philosophy | Ph.D. in Computer Science |

Interaction improves learning. Leave your thoughts here...