Tools for Thought's greatest benefit

The greatest benefit of Tools for Thought (TfT) is not what you think

In this article, I'll share my point of view about the greatest benefit of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) applications and Tools for Thought (TfT) in general. And it's not what you may think!


Tools for Thought (TfT) tools, also known as Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) tools, are often described or thought of as means to enhance thinking. While that statement is true to a certain degree (writing does help think more deeply), the main benefit I see and feel with those tools is elsewhere.

Human brains are not made for memorizing tons of information

While our society and technology changes and improves all the time, our biological nature limits us to a much slower pace of evolution. Our brains are still mostly "designed" for survival. That's probably why we have such a limited short-term memory. No need to remember a gazillion things when the focus needs to be on the danger we face.

Human brains do have an impressive capability to retain all sorts of information, but they're not the best tools available to us. They're not reliable enough. We may work hard and train ourselves to memorize certain information, but there's no guarantee that we'll always be able to find that information back. Memory retrieval is flaky. It's a very annoying issue that we all face from time to time. We also tend to forget a ton of things all the time. And the more we age, the worse those problems get.

Last but not least, when we memorize information, we really have no control over the way that information is structured and stored in our minds. We may remember certain parts of what we're looking for and forget about the most important ones.

Tools For Thought's strongest benefit

In my humble opinion, the main benefit of tools for thought is not the fact that they enable deep thinking, but the fact that they act as a much better information and knowledge repository for ourselves.

In contrast with your brain and independently of the tool you've chosen to use, there's an almost certainty that it will be able to retrieve the information you store in it very reliably. Assuming that you organize, tag and structure your content in a clear, systematic and maintainable way then you should never have trouble finding things back.

All we need for our tools to continue serving us is a clear backup/restore process. We need to ensure that the information we store can never get lost because of technical issues (e.g., file system corruption).

The more information you store and link together, and the more knowledge you amass. The more knowledge you amass, the more value you will be able to get from  the tools.

Mort importantly, delegating information retention and retrieval to a tool means that you can sit back, relax and relieve the pressure from your brain. There's generally only a small fraction of what we learn that actually needs to be memorized. For instance, concepts and general ideas. For the rest, Tools for Thought are much better suited to help us.

Going further

If you want to further explore Personal Knowledge Management, then take a look at starter kit for Obsidian. It will give you a solid starting point for your note-taking and note-making efforts.

Also check out my Personal Knowledge Management Library. It’s a huge collection of resources (articles, books, videos, YouTube channels, and a lot more).

By the way, I publish a weekly newsletter about PKM, note-taking, lifelong learning, and more!

If you find PKM interesting (I really hope you do!), then you might want to join our community.


Tools for Thought are super useful to help us retain and retrieve information. They're also much more reliable and trustworthy than our primitive brains.

That's it for today! ✨

About Sébastien

Hello everyone! I'm Sébastien Dubois. I'm an author, founder, and CTO. I write books and articles about software development & IT, personal knowledge management, personal organization, and productivity. I also craft lovely digital products 🚀

If you've enjoyed this article and want to read more like this, then become a subscriber, check out my Obsidian Starter Kit, the PKM Library and my collection of books about software development 🔥.

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If you want to discuss, then don't hesitate to join the Personal Knowledge Management community or the Software Crafters community.