Vinnovate ep6 - the second brain, 20 pages a day

🧠 The second brain 📖How to read books quickly 🎨 Figma rocks and more!

Hi there!

Welcome to episode 6 of this now ‘two weekly’ newsletter. I’m making them a bit longer now as I know two weeks is a long time to wait, you’re excited, aren’t you?

The past two weeks have consisted of me spellchecking, filming and finalising my first digital product - Content Ideas Machine. (More on that later)

For now, let’s get to the good stuff

In this episode:

🧠 The second brains

🎨 Figma

📺 New youtube channel

📖 Read books quickly

💡 Five things


The second brains

Storing notes on pieces of paper, or in a note app like apple notes tends to make me forget stuff. They pile up on one another and never get used or acted upon. The past year I’ve been using a few tools to make note-taking or storage more functional. Ways that I can easily recall and not forget. In this episode, I want to share the three tools I use to make sense of the thoughts and ideas. There are three ways I get everything out of my head and into a place to reference. It helps with the building of this newsletter, the ideas, the future research and more. You don’t have to use them all - one will do the job. However, I use these in the following order:

1. MyMind : step 1, brain dump

MyMind is in its simplest form a bookmarker. But I might be selling it short there. When you add things to Mymind it’s able to index them not just via the file name or the text or the URL you added but by other elements. For instance, if you add lots of pictures you can type ‘Blue’ and everything with blue will be displayed, or the connotations of what you write. Say for instance you need to find that tweet you saved but can’t remember the user name, just thinking of a couple of the words it was about or something close to it. MyMind will find it and display it.

I treat Mymind as a brain dump, saving things for later which I will then add to Roam Research. (There are rumours MyMind will be adding bidirectional linking at some point)

1st phase I bookmark, copy and paste everything here.

It replaces notes on iPhone. Constantly upgraded. Allows for semantic search through colour, text, theme

2. Roam research: Step 2, connections

Those that know me have heard me continually speak about Roam Research. I’m obsessed with it. My favourite thing is that once you start using it you get to see all the connections your notes and ideas have. Better than that is once set up correctly, the next time you want to write something, or spec out an idea, roam research will remind you of past notes and collections you’ve already added.

The way I use Roam is to add any ideas to the daily notes section and tag as I go along. There is no need to add your ideas to the correct folder or find a page to add it to, you just write. Which is great for ideas.
I also use it for blog writing, I can brain dump my ideas and thoughts onto a first draft of a blog and then start seeing any other possible connections I have within my other notes and not have to remember.
It uses bi-directional linking, which is pretty much how your brain works. There is a bit of a steep learning curve with Roam, but the #RoamCult is always there to help and there are millions of tutorial videos.

3. Notion: Step 3, structure and reference

Notion is great for note-taking too, but the way I use it is to have a permanent structure of my references. In other words, once I have compiled something that I’m happy within Roam Research, I can add that to a structured area in Notion.

You can’t really describe what Notion is as it does everything. You can customise it to whatever you want. Here’s a little intro:

Geres a few ways I use Notion:

Timelines - You can create project Gantt charts within notion, then store those under various projects.

Ideas - A simple note-taking functionality but can also embed files, like google docs and more

File storage - I work with a number of clients that have masses of files on Dropbox or Google Drive, by grouping these and sorting them into categories I can easily find them (great for onboarding new people too)

Websites - yep, you can build a website with Notion. Lots of people doing it. I even have one for the Content Ideas machine book. For a full-fledged domain, use it alongside super.so - editing and updating your websites is an absolute breeze.

Productivity - I use the Kansan format to add a Trello like board to my projects and campaigns

Learning - Using the Tables template I created a table to list out things I wanted to learn or read and store them in a list, supported by tags too.

Customer support - For a number of clients I have to train the team on how to use systems or websites I setup. To help them I create wikis where all the videos, documentation and help files are. Thanks to Notion, they can then pop over to their page and search or click through to what they need

Companion sites - As mentioned above, I’ve used Notion to build companion sites for my digital products. The reason I do this is for the quick building. In a few hours, I can have an easy to navigate site - or a reference doc for any of the customers that buy my products. Plus, easily update it when I need to

Personal HQ - I’ve used Notion to run my life too. One file contains all my personal goals, insurance details, holiday plans, checklists and more. I also incorporate tables to create habit trackers. (There’s a template for that) The thing I like about this is I can have one app open and my personal stuff is viewable via a click and then in another click, I’m straight into a clients area.

Workspaces for teams - Some of my projects involve a number of people - developers, project managers and graphic artists. We chat in slack, but most work and files with notes are stored in Notion. This way there’s no searching or asking. Through a good structure, we are able to find everything we need. Plus, as previously mentioned we can add a Kanban board and know what everyone is up to

Go here for loads of templates you can use to create your own Notion files.

So in the above order…. I braindump ideas, URLs, images, tweets and notes into MyMind. then when I have a moment I will add some of that to Roam Research, where it makes connections for me. Once I have collected the info or created something in Roam, I structure it in Notion for easy reference.

Brain dump, connect, organise


Figma and the UI elements

I’ve been a user of Photoshop since version 1 - giving my age away, and have been a subscriber to Creative Cloud since its launch. I use Adobe for all my social content and presentation graphics. That is until I started playing with Figma.

Figma is a free tool, mainly used for UI but such a pleasure to use I incorporate it into everything. Even the episode thumbnails for this newsletter. A majority of Vinnovate readers use Canva too, I find that to be a bit samey. As in you can tell from someones social media posts that they are using Canva…but that’s just me. Figma is so simple to use and you can build your own templates, you’re own look and feel. On top of that creating artboards in one file is great. For instance, I have one canvas with every social media image size on there. I then get to work in one central place for my campaign designs.

Then there are the ideas. Figma allows you to create prototypes of whatever you want and set them up to demo how you want them to function. This way you can show a developer how your idea works, or present a demo to teams, investors or clients.

I recommend heading over to Figma and having a play around. it has a great support community too.

Here are some handy sites to use alongside it (and some can be used for photoshop if you feel that way)

UI8 - amazing site for templates, layouts and more. For a subscription, you can download anything. It includes some great UI components so that idea for an app or website can be easily built by downloading and then dragging and dropping components. Some great 3D assets too

Envato elements - another template library but via a subscription rather than Envato’s other sites where you pay for each asset. This supports all creative software, but great for more Figma templates.


Thes a YouTube channel coming

Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.
Austin Kleon

After reading ‘Show your work’ and from past recommendations I’m going down the YouTube route. No plans to monetise or become an ‘influencer’ just a channel where I share more stuff like this newsletter, teach, demo, review.

I’ve already set up a workflow for this and have my first 40 video ideas ready. Once the book is out I’ll be starting recording.

The plan is one video a week, just to see how it goes. It’s going to be a soft launch of sorts. I’ll share it, talk about it, but not make it my priority channel. To keep accountable once I launch, if I’m doing one post a week, there should be two videos to share in this newsletter each time it goes out.

The plan for the next month is to do, in Tim Ferris’s words - Batching. In the past, I would film one video, do the edits, upload and then leave it. this time I want to block out time, film a number of videos and then stagger the release. Also, looking into quick edits rather than a long process. (Possibly looking into getting an editor to save time on that)

I believe it should be frictionless. Get an idea - film - send to the editor - publish

In the past editing has sucked up a lot of time. I also want to go the route of minimal - no need to have flashy graphics, effects and whatnot. Sometimes yes….

So keep an eye out for the launch of that, inevitably I’ll be embedding them in here

Oh yeah and need a haircut so I don’t have the lockdown look


Three ways to read books quickly:

I’ve been balancing my consuming of industry-related books recently. Born of the fact I want to produce now rather than consume. I recently read a Twitter thread about reading for 20 pages a day. Check it out here:

My current reading plan is industry, wellness and learning in the day and in the evening before bed, Fiction. (It’s a great way to relax your mind for ideas, but also help you sleep)

However, I can get quite picky with books and find a lot of them are full of ’waffle’ and filler. Just give me the facts dammit!
With that in mind, I’m currently testing some book ‘summary’ apps to help get a taste of the books and then make a call if I want to dig deeper. Here are the ones I’m using:

Blinkist - Blinkist brings you knowledge from top nonfiction and podcasts, so you can learn anytime, anywhere. (paid subscription)

Shortform - Has the world’s best summaries of 1000+ nonfiction books. Learn the key points of a book in 30 minutes or less. (paid subscription)

Uptime - Thousands of 5-minute Knowledge Hacks from the world’s best books, courses and documentaries, for free.


Five things

📈 The compounding creator - amazing tweet thread about a user that’s inspired a lot of what I’m doing. A great read. I’ve compiled the tweet thread here

🚀 400 places to promote your startup - handy little database of potential sites to get the word out about your company.

🌟 Product Mockups - sometimes you want to see that new logo on a product pack. Or need to create some quick mockups for a presentation. This site will help you do that.

🍖 Doing keto? - here’s how to make keto fries - through in some keto bread and a burger and its like being at a Keto MacDonalds…well in theory

💡 Out of Curiosity - I thought I would share one of my favourite substacks Out of Curiosity is great. From the source: This newsletter is intended to serve such friends (and any future ones) seeking to feed their curiosity and better themselves in different life areas.

Kickstarters I’ve backed

Love Turntable - although this startup has been in production for about four years now, I’m still hoping it’s coming out. A very cool turntable. Connects to Sonos, automatically finds the titles of tracks and allows you to control via your phone. And sooo good looking.

NanoFoamer - Not sure if this is just one of those frothers with a different mixer but I liked the fact they will also teach you how to make coffee art. Soon I’ll have my own Starbucks

The self-plug:

Coming soon!!!! 🧰 Consultants toolbox - I have used so many tools in my business, each one serving a purpose for the job at hand. I’ve been putting these together in an easy to use database for anyone looking to find solutions to client work or their own work. Plus handy for agencies looking to add some tools.

💡 Content Ideas Machine - I finished all chapters this week and have been adding the intro pages. Now I’m finalising the companion site - extra resources and some of the chapters in video. Pre-order here. It’s currently £10 but will be going up 24hrs after launch. (also, last night I accidentally clicked release product…. one more day) It will be live on Monday!

Fullstac.academy - My online courses and community used to be called The Content Blueprint. I figured that sort of limited the sort of stuff I would be sharing. So now it’s under a new name. I’m currently filming ‘season 1’ of the videos and will be live very soon. Signup here to be notified when it goes live


That’s it for this week, now to prep ep7. Make sure you share innovate with anyone you think would enjoy it and don’t forget you can always visit vinnovate.substack.com and comment on anything, would be great to get your feedback and any ideas or thoughts you have! See you in two weeks! Have a lovely weekend.

Share vinnovate


Where to find me:

Twitter: @vincenthaywood

Website: Launching soon

Network: Launching Soon

Instagram: @fullstack.vin

Gumroad: VHDigital