Monday, September 10, 2018

Thought Tags, Features in TheBrain

What is a "Thought Tag"?

When working with TheBrain by TheBrain Technologies LP one of the most challenging features for me to understand was how to properly leverage "Thought Tags." The first question you might ask is "Justin, what is a Thought Tag?".

Thought Tag is an attribute that can be added to one or more Thoughts in TheBrain software to help identify commonality between Thoughts.  A Thought can have more than one Thought Tag, whereas a Thought can only have one Thought Type.

Above you can see how the thought "David Allen" has three Thought Tags attached to it.  They are a pencil, checkmark of approval, and a U.S. Flag.  In this case, they allow me to know that David Allen is an author (the pencil), one of my influencers (the checkmark of approval), and from the U.S. (the U.S. Flag).

Jump down to the Example Thought Tag section below for more examples of Thought Tags.

How do you assign a Thought Tag?

I am aware of four ways to assign Thought Tags:

  1. Thought Properties Dialog
  2. Dragging a link
  3. Toolbar Menu Selection
  4. Right-click menu

Thought Properties Dialog

When the Thought Properties dialog is open a "Tags" button is available that will allow the addition or removal of any thought tag in the brain.

This method is recommended if you have a lot of Thought tags to modify for an old thought, or if you are adding a new thought that needs a lot of Thought Tags. Don't forget if you are using the "Semicolon Method" to add multiple thoughts you can assign one or more Thought Tags in that dialog.

Dragging a link

By either selecting the thought tag from the Thought Tag menu or by searching for the Thought Tag with the search field you can make a tag the selected thought.  Once it is the active Thought, you can drag from the "Child Connector" and type in the name of a Thought you want to assign the said tag to. 

If the thought you want to assign is one of your pinned thoughts you can just click and drag from the child connector to the pinned thought

This process only allows the addition of one Thought Tag to a Thought in a single operation.

Toolbar Menu Selection

In the "Thought" menu there is an entry labeled "Set Tags."  Choosing "Set Tags" allows the addition or removal of a Thought Tag, one at a time.

This process only allows the addition of one Thought Tag to a Thought in a single operation.

Right Click Menu

By right clicking on any Thought, the popup menu has an entry labeled "Set Tags."  Choosing "Set Tags" allows the addition or removal of a Thought Tag, one at a time. This is the same menu that you can find in the "Thought" menu on the toolbar

This process only allows the addition of one Thought Tag to a Thought in a single operation.

Keyboard Shortcuts

To quickly activate the Thought Tag menu to start searching for a Thought Tag press:
  • ⌘-G in MacOS
  • Ctrl-G in Windows

Example Thought Tags

I have been working with Thought Tags for a while now and have come up with my own system that you are free to borrow, extend, or ignore.  I brake my thought tags into five major types:

  1. Actions and Status
  2. Ranking
  3. Personal Attributes & Skills
  4. Company Attributes & Properties
  5. Items and Products
Before I get to the examples, please keep in mind that Thought Tags sort alpha-numerically so you may want to choose names that allow things to logically group together

Action and Status

These statuses allow me to quickly add information to the database and know I can get back to it later for refinement or cleanup.  These Thought Tags act almost as tasks so that I can "close my loops" a la GDT and I will pick up all the outstanding items during my weekly review
  • Cleanup, Data Dump
  • Cleanup, Mobile Entry
  • Decision
  • Idea - Infancy
  • Idea - Needs refinement
  • Todo


Finding the correct image for these can really help
  • 1 Star
  • 2 Star
  • 3 Star
  • 4 Star
  • 5 Star

Personal Attributes & Skills

I use these Thought Tags on people that I add to my database.  These are intended to help me look up people or remember something about them
  • Hobbies - list the ones you care about
  • Professions
  • Personal Influencers (This is a stand-alone tag)
  • Speaks, $X
  • Zodiac Sign (If you, and/or the person in question, are into that kind of thing)

Company Attributes & Properties

As a businessman, I need to remember a lot of information and data about companies I do work with.  As an IT person, the things I most often need to remember is what enterprise software or carrier services they are using.  As such I create Thought Tags for the following:
  • Uses $X Product
  • Uses $X Company (Usually a service company, else I would just use the appropriate product tag)
  • Uses $X Service

Items and Products Attributes & Properties

Just as I need to know what companies are using, I also need to know what features products may have.  This includes software or physical products.
  • Feature $X
  • Made of material $X

Thought Tag Attributes

To make Thought Tags more useful, you can modify the following for a thought:
  • Image 
    • This makes the thought much more useful if the appropriate stock image, clipart, or external image is used
  • Abbreviation
  • Font color
  • Background color
  • Notes & Attachments
    • This means you can further clarify what a Thought Tag means to a given database.

Additional Information

For additional information here are some links from TheBrain Technologies:

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