Roam Research - A Tool For Networked Thought

This article covers how I use an app called Roam Research to manage my knowledge

Once every few years a new piece of software will come along that is an absolute game-changer for the way you operate. Roam Research is something that genuinely had a profound impact on both my business and personal life.

What is Roam Research

Roam Research describes itself as follows

A note-taking tool for networked thought. As easy to use as a document. As powerful as a graph database. Roam helps you organize your research for the long haul.

Bi-Directional Linking

Roam lets you create bi-directional links which are a new page within a page. It's like your own personal Wikipedia.

Do you see the blue links in the text? Roam does this by wrapping any word (or set of words) in a set of double square brackets.

Let’s say I had a meeting and made the following note:

Met Jim Smith of ACME Widgets Ltd and we discussed his new marketing plan. He wants to allocate more budget towards LinkedIn and Facebook ads to improve his ROAS.

I might process it in Roam as follows:

Met [[Jim Smith]] of [[ACME Widgets Ltd]] and we discussed his new marketing plan. He wants to allocate more budget towards [[LinkedIn]] and [[Facebook]] ads to improve his [[ROAS]] (return on advertising spend)

If I then click on [[Jim Smith]] I'll see all past & present entries related to him:

Here is an example from my personal Roam Research graph showing my knowledge base. I've picked a node as an example and you can see the blue lines bi-directionally linked to other topics:

I built the entire marketing plan for my company Inaequo by searching the word [[Marketing]] in my Roam graph and re-reading the entries over the last 18 months I had tagged with [[Marketing]] which was a mixture of articles copied into Roam coupled with my own thoughts.

Roam has a very powerful query, search and filter functions (out of the scope of this introductory article) but once you start to build up your knowledge base, you can use this to make mental connections between topics and gain new insights into your thinking.

Use Case 1 - Daily Notes

Roam creates a new "Daily Notes" page automatically every day which is a blank slate where you can take notes.

I have a template that I copy into the Daily Notes section every day:

  • 🧐 Affirmations - These are 5-6 key statements I read every morning to centre myself and get focused for the day.

  • 🎯 Top 3 - The top 3 most important tasks for the week. A useful reminder of what I should be working on. Just because you're busy, doesn't mean you're making good progress.

  • 🌄 SOD (Start of Day) - The first thing I'll do every morning is a SOD. This is a brain dump of whatever I'm thinking about. It's usually a conscious stream of utter nonsense that I write for a couple of minutes, but I always feel much better after doing it and sometimes there is a gem or two of insight that's come from the subconscious.

  • Dplan (Day Plan) - I fill this out the previous day. It's an hour by hour breakdown of exactly what I'm doing for the day

  • 🥓 Food - What I'm having for breakfast/lunch/dinner

  • 🔖 Notes - This is where I journal throughout the day and process information. I'll include random thoughts, useful snippets of information from articles, meeting notes etc. This is generally filed with around 500-1000 words or notes/text each day.

  • 🌚 EOD (End of Day) - I answer those three same questions every single day. I listen to a lot of business podcasts and read articles, so any key points go here. The "what did you learn today" is great for knowledge retention.

Use Case 2 - Knowledge Repository

I have a page called [[Life]] which links to my key interests and I review this regularly to see if I can gain any new insight or knowledge:

Use Case 3 - Notes To Future Self

I often write a note to my future self so they appear when the Daily Notes pops up. The date today at the time of writing is 07 September 2021, so I could write:

[[October 11th, 2021]] You have the meeting with [[Jim Smith]] - remember to ask him about his [[ROAS]] performance and [[ACME Widgets Ltd]] profitability

This will then appear on October 11th and I can review all my notes about past meetings with [[Jim Smith]] along with brushing up on my [[ROAS]] knowledge and scanning [[ACME Widgets Ltd]] to ensure everything is fresh in my head.

Conclusion

There is A LOT more to Roam Research than what I've mentioned above, however, it has truly been a transformative knowledge management tool for me.

Reading back my old journals and notes gives me huge insight into my psyche and helps me spot patterns gain new insights. For example, I could search the word [[Happy]] and read all my journals for the days I was happy and try to gain some insights.

There are so many different use-cases for Roam Research and if you're good with tech, it's super customisable with code and you can build all sorts of cool stuff or simply use something that the community has built.

(Full disclosure - I am an early investor in this company)