Zettelkasten Forum


Toying with the idea of a Zettelkasten

Hey everyone!

I’m fascinated by the idea of making my work (and maybe my learning) more effective and efficient.

I’ve been taking a lot of notes over the course of my life. Mostly on random papers. Each time I moved place I threw away a few kilograms of paper notes. I just thought: “that’s part of my past development, by writing them something has already happened.”

Now I’m seeing how with the proper attitude and approach one can create something valuable from his notes (with some tweaks to how I make notes I suppose).

Currently I’m writing in physical notebooks when I read books. All other notes regarding my personal or professional projects go in Apple Notes (I have a folder structure there). I can theoretically add tags there, but I can’t comfortably link files.

I also like to make MindMaps to get an overview of information. My problem is that I often take way too detailed notes and have difficulty structuring them.

My goal is to use a Zettelkasten for:
1) a tool in my work with content marketing. There’s a lot of research and writing happening (on various topics) and I plan on putting all that into a Zettelkasten so that I can pull out “building blocks”/Zettels? for future projects. Which should save me a lot of time.

2) organically growing projects, like an online course I am planning, where I can work on it in small increments. With parts of my research integrated into the system: properly formulated notes which are my own “interpretations” and thoughts/inspiration on subjects or key building blocks.

For 3) building a big hierarchical structure of all the things I am learning I am on the fence. I quite like visuals and am a visually aided thinker. I also prefer to write with my hand as it gives me a more “tactile experience” of “grasping the information”.

So my question:
Do you think it would be good to start making a Zettelkasten with the mere focus on using it for my professional projects, while keeping my main notes in Apple Notes? I’d probably be using TA as it seems very suitable for that purpose.

I know it has been pointed out one should ideally have just ONE big Zettelkasten, and I get why that is the case.

Any pointers will be helpful! I know about the “curated article overview” and will be reading more about this topic henceforth.

I am happy for any advice and wish everyone a great day!

Lukas

Comments

  • @lukasweichselbaum said:
    So my question:
    Do you think it would be good to start making a Zettelkasten with the mere focus on using it for my professional projects while keeping my main notes in Apple Notes? I’d probably be using TA as it seems very suitable for that purpose.

    I know it has been pointed out one should ideally have just ONE big Zettelkasten, and I get why that is the case.

    Welcome to the forums.

    I love The Archive. With its plain text ethos, it soars. It lets me focus on ideas and writing. It is a low distraction environment which is so hard to find in software apps today. Its advantage is not been graphs intensive. It is also a disadvantage if your work requires intensive graphics and interoperability with other software.

    I keep all my graphical information in Evernote and then use references back and forth when needed. You could do the same with Apple Notes. Maybe start this way and see what evolves without forcing the structure of your zettelkasten.

    Your use case might vary.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @lukasweichselbaum said:
    Do you think it would be good to start making a Zettelkasten with the mere focus on using it for my professional projects, while keeping my main notes in Apple Notes?

    Hi, @lukasweichselbaum, and welcome!
    I'm a fairly new Zettelkasten (ZK) adopter (a little over a month into it), and relate to the use-cases and ways of working that you described. I love to create physical Zettels (I'm tactile, I draw, and it slows my brain down) and then I incorporate them into The Archive for searching and other purposes.

    With that in mind, here are my thoughts on your question. Perhaps something will be helpful.

    • Try one big ZK for all of your knowledge. It's about knowledge, not projects. This was a big mental shift for me starting out. The beauty - and power - of the ZK comes from the connections that occur among different knowledge points. Building one ZK "brain" allows for greater connectivity potential for everything that brain contains.

    • Use tags and saved searches within The Archive for your projects or project types. For example, I'm leading an innovation initiative at my company. For the Zettels that connect with that initiative, I tag it as such (#innovation-imperative) and have a saved search in Archive for #innovation-imperative. When the initiative is done, I can get rid of the saved search, and when new projects come up it's easy to add new saved searches.

    • Use what works for you for organizing your images and non-text entries. Simply link your Zettels to those resources for easy access, as @Will described. This brings me to my next recommendation:

    • Visit this forum early and often! It is truly a treasure-trove of insight for crafting a ZK that truly works for - and WITH - you. Plus, the members here are insightful, experienced, generous with their knowledge, and good people.

    Lastly,

    • Just get started! There is a lot of information out there on how Luhmann created and worked with his system. Everyone has their own way of creating and working with their ZK. Yours is waiting to be discovered. Start creating Zettels and discover the approach that truly works best for you as you use it.

    Looking forward to hearing how your Zettelkasten evolves,
    Jeannel

  • Many thanks to you, Will and Jeannel, for your thoughtful replies! It is much appreciated and those tips are helpful. I'll just have to take the plunge to see where it takes me :)

    Kind regards,
    Lukas

  • edited September 2

    Welcome aboard, @lukasweichselbaum! I'd say just get started with anything you find useful to get a good grasp of the mechanics. Once you went through the motions of creating Zettel notes and connecting them and using them in overviews and structure notes, you'll be in a better place to judge whether you want to migrate everything there or not. -- Ultimately, I think one is better off with everything in one Zettelkasten, but getting there isn't the same for everyone.

    I'm totally into drawing and visualizing, but I find that it's hard to work with sketchnotes and diagrams alone. I think it's faster to see and grasp complex interactions in a diagram than in written form, because you can see the Gestalt and the whole, whereas with text you have to parse the text from beginning to end, first, and recreate a non-linear connection in your head. But without text, you cannot write, so I surprisingly ended up with paper sketches, some imported as images into my notes, but 99% of the content is pure text. That's what I need in the end, so that's what I produce most.

    Because of this surprising shift, from years of "sketchnoting" and mapping at University to linear text, I suggest you get comfortable first and postpone detailed planning until later.

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

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