One of the features of PersonalBrain that I’m starting to use more and more is using the duplicate child thought feature to create template thoughts.

As an example, I like to track my daily exercise routine in PB, so every day I add a thought with that day’s routine to the weekly thought. The exercise thought has a specific thought type and tags, and I also write what I do for that day in the notes. This is mainly so I can run a report and track how I’m doing, or look back through the year and see what I’ve done (at a minimum I’ve found that doing this really helps for keeping up my motivation). Since my regimen is fairly static, I’ve created a thought under a template section of my brain database where I store a thought with the type and tags already assigned, and with text detailing the information of all the different workouts in the notes. When I’m ready to create a new thought I right click the template thought and choose Create Duplicate Child Thought (I actually have assigned it the keyboard accelerator ctrl+d), add today’s date using a macro (or TextExpander on the Mac) and then hold down the shift key and drag link the newly created thought to my weekly thought. This changes the parent thought to the the weekly thought instead of the template thought. Then I delete the extra routines in the thought notes, and I’m done. When my routine changes slightly I just update the template thought and it will be carried forward the next time I duplicate the thought.

I’ve adapted this for other uses also. For example, I have several tasks that require multiple steps be done in a certain order each time the task is done. I’ve created template thoughts for these tasks and added a checkbox list for the steps in the notes. Every time I do that task I create a duplicate thought and already have the steps documented in front of me, allowing me to can keep track of where I am in the process and document when the task was completed (by checking the box and adding a date to that line entry).

You are really just limited by your imagination to what you can use this for. Want your note layout to be a certain way every time you create a specific type of thought? A template thought can help with that (I use this for documenting the information around new reports I create).

Want new project thoughts to always have a specific type and a Word document attached? Just create the thought with that thought type, and add the Word document as an internal attachment.

If you are trying to keep consistent information for certain thoughts in your database, I’d encourage you to take a look and see if you can shorten or improve your work flow by putting template thoughts to use.