Zettelkasten Forum

Simplefying an analog Zettelkasten: Topics with pregiven structure (LAW)

Hello guys,

after experementing with the Zettelkasten method for a while know, i am comfortable using a digital Zettelkasten when it comes to new ideas and a "scientific approach" on things i read (e.g. economic policy).

However, next year the second stage of my law education begins, which feels like another kind of challenge (I've already talked about the issue earlier: https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1078/several-questions-of-a-beginner-planning-everything-out-or-doing-one-step-at-a-time#latest

After a long pause i tried to relearn some old stuff with a zettelkasten structure but it is way to slow.

In short: it is not about new ideas, but given ideas and structures. Even the writing style follows specific rules. The challenge is to use the known structures/knowledge as a tool for new cases (definition,comparison,result..). The learning process is more like in the maths, practice practice practice.

I still think atomicity and referencing of thoughts are important. But it is less random than science imho. So i'm imagining the following learning structure:

  • reading/notes: a6 or a5 (zettel) but simply numbered from 1 to xxx (like a time id). No branching off like "1a7c1"
  • put the zettel on the place it belongs structurally
  • creating tree diagrams or a (digital) outline wear the structure becomes visible (love tree diagrams for anything)
  • link zettel and diagrams

My argument: i do not need to structure my thoughts like a writer or scientist, but become very familiar with old structures and perform them adequately.

Anything i oversee in your opinion? If so, please let me know :)

ps: i'd number my old cards i need to know from some years ago as well instead of transferring them into a new structure - seems like waste of time? (thousands of cards, just number the ones i actually re-used). I simply creates cards (question&answer) for anything and repeated them 1day/1week/1month/3months/6months. It was pretty successful, but not time efficient enough imo - some skills grow organically)

pps: analog because i dont want to sit in front of the laptop 2 years 6 days a week and want individualised cards.

greetings, stay healthy :)


  • My argument: i do not need to structure my thoughts like a writer or scientist, but become very familiar with old structures and perform them adequately.

    A student of psychology at University had something in the ballpark of 200 notes to memorize and tried to get them to the next level. They were on A5 paper, I think, so she could use A3 paper for Mind-Maps as topic overviews and fold them to A5 size and shove them between the notes. These were her Structure Zettel, so to speak. "Playing around" with the material, connecting stuff, and discovering similarities that make sense to you and improve recall are worth the trouble.

    Another student of law I guided towards with exam prep had lots of atomic excerpts, not really Zettel, but some very general principles helped nevertheless: start a new page for a new topic; try to shorten the original in iterations (4 page summary of notes, 1 page summary of dense prose, 1/2 page summary of lists, flash card) and add table of contents, hierarchies, diagrams, etc to your liking. We experimented with creating hierarchies of topics that made sense to her instead of replicating what major text books were using. In theory, this could aid in recall, because it's more akin to the way you sort things out, but I didn't do any studies on this, so take this with a lump of salt :)

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

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