Zettelkasten Forum


Organizing Resources and handwritten notes - fighting collector's fallacy again

Hey everyone,

after about two months of using a digital Zettelkasten-Software, i recognize that i often don't sit down and transfer my (usually handwritten) notes to the system. Well, i kind of always had a problem when it comes to "thinking about thinking" or thinking about how to name my files and stuff.

That's why i wanted to ask about your system of archiving your notes and ressources. Maybe you can help me with finding a very simple one (i dont mind big folders, i mind a system which falls apart if i lose track of precision for a week)

Here is my workflow right now:

I listen to a podcast, read a book or just sit in the park and write down some notes. I always write the date down as well. Sometimes i end my notes with a question or with a first try of linking it to "older" thoughts.

In the ideal case (a problem right now) i transfer some thoughts into my Zettelkasten when i get back home or find the time.

All these notes go into one of 3 folders standing on my desk (general content, competition law, fictional writing project). The reason is that i might look at notes concerning competition law very frequently and don't want them to be mixed up with a big big pile of psychology or meditation. To find notes again, i have a calendar on top of these folders ("page 0").

-> Do you think this is effective long term? Are some of these steps unnecessary?

One second big problem about this process right now is that i prefer working offline, but i am dependent on online-resources very often, especially when it comes to my job. I also have to work with Microsoft Word for the job. My idea right now is to just have three main pc folders (apart from my documents like Insurance Bills or stuff): "Projects right now", "Finished projects", "Read Next" and "May never".
A project would consist of "drafts" and "resources".

Thanks for any advice :) Ps: I consider writing a Doctoral Thesis someday and (over-)organizing is my biggest enemy for sure. So thank you VERY MUCH for any advice :D

Comments

  • One second big problem about this process right now is that i prefer working offline, but i am dependent on online-resources very often, especially when it comes to my job.

    I use the Leech Block Extension for that reason.

    I am a Zettler

  • Just to share my own system which I practice since decades in my various offices (law, diplomacy, business). The operative purposes prevented me from giving in too much to collector's fallacy (which keeps tempting me, though!).

    I work with hanging folders and have partitioned them in “Action files” and “Reference Files”.
    Action Files are numbered “Action File 1”, “Action File 2” etc …. and comprise the currently running operative issues. “Reference Files” are similarly addressed “Reference File 1”, “Reference File 2” etc. and comprise mainly reference materials.

    In my present office I entertain around 50 Action Files and 400 Reference Files (but can expand/shrink according to needs).

    Each of these physical files is reflected in my electronic Outliner (I use the wonderful free Dynalist-program, which works on- and offline): Thus in Dynalist I have a document “Action and Reference Files” which is nested into

    • Action Files
    o Action File 1
    o Action File 2
    o Action File 3
    o …………………..
    • Reference Files
    o Reference File 1
    o Reference File 2
    o Reference File 3
    o …………………..

    When I put some paper, document, protocols, Manual, notes, even USB stick etc. whatever (if not too big for the folder) in a free hanging folder I add a sub-bullet with the content to the corresponding electronic folder e. g.:
    ……..
    • Action File 22
    o Protocol of BoT, 20 February 2020, Berlin, with attachments
     Email to members 28. February
     [[Link to Reference File xxx with the previous meeting notes]]
     Open questions:
    • A, B, C
    • Action File 55
    o Brainstorming with my team about xxx
     Results report
     Open questions:
     Phone call with X about it on …………………….
    • Reference File 98
    o Verschiedene Artikel zum Zettelkasten Niklas Luhmanns
     Q: Ist es nicht Idee des Luhmannschen Zettelkastens, eine nummerierte Sequenz zu schaffen, die horizontal, also in der thematischen Abfolge, völlig zufällig ist, aber von deren Gliedern aus sich dann logisch/kontextuelle Verzweigungen über Folgezettel vertikal in Unterbereiche und horizontal/diagonal durch Querverweise/ Sprungverweise in Nachbarbereiche und auch Überbereiche ergeben?
    o Johannes Schmidt: Der Zettelkasten als Zweitgedächtnis Niklas Luhmanns on Vimeo
    • Reference File 231
    o Written and stamped approval for new construction by authority XYZ dated 04.10.2018 #document
    • Reference File 99
    o Signed Contract ABC #document
     [[Link to electronice correspondence on my HDD]]
     Still open questions: ABC

    I can easily add keywords, tags, long commentaries, links to electronic files, to other hanging folders or to other note-bullets in other, more analytical documents of my electronic outliner system. The good thing about the a. m. folder system is the extreme flexibility, where the numbered names of the folders stay the same but the searchable subtitle keeps changing according to what I feed the respective hanging folder with, adapting to the specific and changing needs I have in my different capacities. And my target – to retrieve everything I need within not more than 5 seconds – has consistently been served - due to the excellent search functions of electronic outliners.

    I did not invent this system but took basic principles from a Software “Paper Tiger” and developed it in modern outliners. You can extend the concept and apply the same principle (i. e. principle of numbered containers) to boxes, drawers, even to your library (if you care to number all your books from 1 – xxxxx and keep them in the numbered order). Very helpful for someone like me who kept moving all his life! And very user-friendly for sharing with other people (e. g. my PAs, family)!

  • Sorry, the indentation under the Action/Reference files got lost in the posting process, hopefully the meaning did not fully get lost!

  • @sfast said:

    I use the Leech Block Extension for that reason.

    Can you describe how you use Leech Block? Is it just to gently keep you away from certain web sites during certain (say work) hours?

  • edited July 2

    @amunicapunica said:
    In the ideal case (a problem right now) i transfer some thoughts into my Zettelkasten when i get back home or find the time.
    -> Do you think this is effective long term? Are some of these steps unnecessary?

    If you're not having time or willingness to transcribe and have everything digital, the best you could do is still make a digital note for each of your physical notes.

    For example, you took 3 notes today at the park and wrote them in paper. After that evening you were watching TV and wrote a 4th note. At the end of the day you create 4 plain text files and add metadata to each. That is, each note should have a template to fill with; a unique identifier UID, specific tags, title, 1 sentence summary of the note, location of the real physical note (the page in your paper notebook), links to other notes, a complete and proper citation.

    A quick template;

    20200701-title-of-note
    This is a one-sentence summary description of my note.
    Tags; #specific_topic
    
    TITLE OF NOTE
    
    Location of note: bn-12/3 (My black notebook, p. 12, 3rd note on that sheet)
    
    Related notes:
    - Title of the note. [[UID_link]].
    
    Citation:
    [#author_year]: Author's name. _Work's Title; subtitle_. <url_if_needed>. YEAR.
    
    [END]
    

    For the example above, the 3 notes from the park are all book notes, the tags could be #authors_name and a #specific_topic, and you link note 4 to note 1. Then you create the last note from an idea you got while watching TV, tags could be #idea or #someday.

    Hope it helps and I'm answering the question

  • @GeoEng51 said:

    @sfast said:

    I use the Leech Block Extension for that reason.

    Can you describe how you use Leech Block? Is it just to gently keep you away from certain web sites during certain (say work) hours?

    Yes. I allow myself only a filtered access to the internet at certain times.

    I am a Zettler

  • Thank you for all the answers!

    @sfast : i use a similar program and managed to fight my youtube-addiction etc. in the last weeks - kind of my main project during corona-crisis actually!

    @Splattack : This is what i try to do right now, yes. Guess i have to make a routine of the transfer process.

    @De_rerum_naturis : this looks pretty perfect to me, thank you! I will definitely try it out (Funny enough, i want to work in the field of politics-related law as well (state-aid and stuff) so i guess it's a good system for that :-D

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