One of the challenging things about being a leader is that you need to stay on top of the latest trends and developments in your industry and in business management overall.

You need to keep building your knowledge base, grow your skills, and stay mentally sharp.

Reading books and articles, attending conferences, and networking with others are great ways to build your knowledge as a leader.

However, the real challenge is to retain the knowledge you’ve gained and to apply it in real life.

Tapping into your mental repository of experiences and connecting the dots between the varied things you know is not easy. It’s important to have a system in place to manage what you know.

And that’s what a Personal Knowledge Management System is all about.

A personal knowledge management system is a systematic way to collect and store your knowledge and insights.

Highlights in books you read, blog posts, notes you jot down, pictures you like, voice recordings, and other interesting content can be added to a personal knowledge system.

To get a clear understanding of how such a system helps you, here are the major benefits of creating your own personal knowledge management system.

Why you need a personal knowledge management system

As a leader who has to juggle multiple roles, I’ve found that writing down my experiences helps me gain perspective. This action has also helped me realize that leaders can benefit from a personal knowledge management system in the following ways.

Uncover lessons from your past experiences

It isn’t enough to merely think about your past experiences, it’s when you write them down that you can get a broader understanding of prior events and underlying patterns.

A personal knowledge management system can be a place for you to store your thoughts. You can read about your previous experiences and look at events differently.

You’ll uncover lessons and insights that you might otherwise miss.

It was when my journaling efforts helped me to improve my golfing that I realized the potential that a personal knowledge tool can have.

Make it a practice to write down everyday occurrences at work. And put your ideas and interesting thoughts down in a journal, app, or some other tool.

Doing this can seem boring at the time, but when you come back to your material at a later date, you’ll be surprised at what you’ve forgotten. You may also find answers to issues you’re facing at work or in your personal life right in your knowledge base.

Track your progress

To create real and lasting change, you need to have a foundation of awareness and attention.

When you set up a personal knowledge management system, you create written evidence of your journey.

And this gives you a place of reference where you can see whether you’ve made real progress. Sometimes, we lose sight of our real performance as leaders and how our businesses have truly grown.

But by having a personal knowledge management system, you track the progress you’ll gain an appreciation for what you’ve done.

Be more creative

Steve Jobs is credited with saying that creativity is about connecting dots of knowledge that have never been combined in that specific way before.

Developing a personal knowledge management system enables you to become more creative. As you start to collect and save information from different sources, you’ll make cross-connections and come up with new ideas and solutions.

Create your own personal knowledge management system

So far, I’ve shared why personal knowledge management is important and how it can benefit you as a leader. Now, let’s look at how you can practically create a personal knowledge management system.

When it comes down to it, you can build a knowledge management system by simply writing down your thoughts and insights in a journal.

But it’s also possible to make this a more organized and sophisticated process.

For now, let’s look at some ways you can build a personal knowledge management system.


  • Journal regularly: The habit of writing in a journal is an age-old one. You can opt to simply write in a paper diary or digital one. This simple system can be all you need to build a knowledge base that you can go back to and explore.
  • Use a note-taking app: There are several note-taking apps that you can add to your phone. This makes it easy to add pictures, text content, and even voice recordings to your app. I like to use Roam Research on my desktop computer since it allows you to create ‘bi-directional’ links between posts so that you can connect content in different posts
  • Join an online course and community: There are programs like Build A Second Brain and Getting Things Done where you can learn specific techniques to build your knowledge and organize it for the best effect. Joining an online course can help you find a community of leaders interested in the same goals. You can share information that helps you build your knowledge base effectively.
A tool like Roam Research can help you organize what you know

When you’re collecting information and storing it, you don’t have to create just text content. You can doodle, make voice recordings, save URLs, and anything else you can think of in your knowledge management system.

What’s important is to express ideas in your own voice or manner. And to write down or save things as they happen.


Building your skills and knowledge is effective when you can make use of what you know in a practical way.

To remember what you’ve learned and to apply it in real life, you need a way to store knowledge outside of your mind and to access this information when you need it.

Creating a personal knowledge management system will help you collect and save what you know and have learned.

You can go back to what you’ve learned to write great content, grow your business, and become a better leader.