Zettelkasten Forum


Tracking personal development in a Zettelkasten

Hello all,

I'm an academic, working in multiple disciplines. My ZK reflects that, thoroughly. Other writings, like a journal, remain separate but sorely underused by comparison. Recently, however, I have been trying to implement a better system for my self-improvement (meditation, exercise, that sort of thing). With my ZK as an essential part of my mental life and my workflows, it's sensible to use it as a tool in my improvement. The issue is I have no idea how. The only toe-hold I see is connecting my self-improvement notes with my notes on philosophy.

Consider:

  • How do you use your ZK for notes on exercise, journalling, and so on?
  • If writing is a form of thinking, what thinking about self-improvement deserves noting?

Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

Comments

  • not zettelkasten, but this beta tool is looking sweet. It can extract and manipulate data from tables within your notes: http://kitestack.com/lnotes/

    And a brief discussion: https://reddit.com/r/macapps/comments/j8lu51/life_notes_beta_5_a_personal_notes_and_knowledge/

    It’s really frustrating how difficult software development is. It seems almost impossible for devs to add innovative features or pivot without a full rewrite — see Bear notes for the Apple ecosystem. I am happy they are doing it. Many apps just plod along or languish. I just wish there were more ‘shoulders of giants’ for people to stand upon.

  • @kmac, this looks intriguing and worth more of a look. At first glance though, the app looks like a plain-text task manager with some Evernote-like functions. Many of my notes in The Archive have footnotes to PDFs or path links to images.

    That all said, are you advocating for tracking personal growth and wellness in a different app and not in a ZK? Personally, I'd rather leverage my ZK as my second brain to serve my goals for building good habits.

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • I track everything in my ZK. There is an upcoming blogpost on how to write an annotated diary in the ZK.

    Then you have at least one version on how to use the ZK for such endevours.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast , I'm looking forward to it! To clarify, is it all in one ZK?

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • What I do in all areas of my life is use the ZK and structure notes. If you're into tracking habits you might have a spreadsheet and some pdfs or scans of your own notes. The structure note will be a great tool to get you organized and focused by listing all your resources like books about certain habits, your spreadsheet and other documents.

    In those structure notes you can write your plan, your resources and metrics, weekly or monthly reviews can be listed there as well.

  • @Sociopoetic said:
    @sfast , I'm looking forward to it! To clarify, is it all in one ZK?

    Yes. I only have one ZK.

    I am a Zettler

  • I do journalling outside my ZK. I do put notes on journalling inside my ZK, as I do with most instructions.

    But when I journal, I just write to move my fingers and give my brain something to better focus on, more like freewriting perhaps. Sometimes I do this in a paper notebook. So that's all left out. I might still process insights and put them in my ZK to have a fixed address and something I can reference later.

    In 2009 I put diary stuff in my ZK as well, but getting clarity about social stuff in my early tweens is cringe material that's nice to look up sometimes, but which ultimately needs further refinement and processing to be useful. Like @Will said, all notes are malleable, but I don't want to rewrite my "diary," so I treat it as source material nowadays (like a web page or a book) that I need to process and write about.

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

  • @ctietze said:
    I do journalling outside my ZK. I do put notes on journalling inside my ZK...

    Me too. My journaling has been a long time habit and my style of writing (thinking while journaling) is free form, a stream of consciousness. A cross between enlightened proclamations from the angels and mental diarrhea. Mostly the latter. Not zettelkasten material, I'm afraid.

    I do cross-link between my journal and my ZK where appropriate. For now, I'll keep the domains separate.

    I do like the idea of starting a daily scratch note in my zettelkasten. I've only done this a dozen or so times. It is a note in which to think in. Write ideas and see where they lead. This is a little different than a journal in that I consider this scratch note a working document for knowledge work and not a device for storing recollections and reflections.

    @Sociopoetic said:

    • How do you use your ZK for notes on exercise, journaling, and so on?

    I know this is not exactly what you asked but ...
    I've not used my ZK for tracking my exercise habit but I've used it in a roundabout way. I tied my ZK habit with my exercise habit, I spent a summer reading and processing the 1800 page, Rationality: From AI to Zombies published by the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. Using habit stacking, I only read the book while on the treadmill doing cardio then would process the reading from that workout before the next. It kept me motivated and on track.

    Also, I've set aside time each morning at the end of my journaling to review and iterate the notes I've recently created. This is another form of habit stacking, tying two habits together so one spurs on the other.

    • If writing is a form of thinking, what thinking about self-improvement deserves noting?

    There is a lot that deserves noting. There is a plethora of books and scientific research in this field.
    Here is a sample for my ZK.

    This comes from processing Heiko Haller and Andreas Abecker (2009): Requirements for Diagrammatic Knowledge Mapping Techniques.

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

  • edited October 20

    At the heart of zettelkasten is knowledge development. The first step towards development is understanding. I use my zettelkasten to help aid me in understanding a topic by explicitly building up a model of it in my notes, instead of just in the brain.

    For example I have a set of notes I created to help myself better understand how the body works. These are notes on issues that are holding me back in terms of knowledge work, such as sleep apnea and allergies. Because I can't effectively address the issues without first understanding them.

    Here is a section from Super Memo Guru on sleep that resonated with me

    Why is sleep important for learning?

    If I was to bet on the top two factors that hinder learning in industrialized nations, these would be:

    • Stress which takes away your focus, stifles creativity, saps motivation, and which can contribute to poor sleep
    • Sleep which is needed for optimizing memories. Without sleep, you cannot even experience the sense of a "good day"

    Health is important too, but, statistically, it is stress and bad sleep that affect nearly everyone, and take the largest toll. Reduce stress and improve sleep, and you might see a society changed beyond recognition!

    For healthy people, all other factors in learning seem to be somewhat secondary. Self-discipline improves greatly if you are rested and happy. The fun of learning follows. The way you approach learning, tools and techniques, the way you represent knowledge in your mind, and other factors can all be improved gradually and consistently. If you are on a steady path ahead, success is nearly guaranteed. Metaphorically speaking, your brain comes with a solid warranty of progress that you can easily void with stress and/or poor sleep.

    Given the importance of sleep, unless you are a "natural" and rarely get a bad night sleep, you should understand the basics of sleep physiology and the impact of your sleep habits on learning. Moreover, even if you sleep well today, you are always in danger of ruining your sleep patterns through the use of computers, Internet, mobile phones, SuperMemo, etc. In short, the human brain has not yet got enough time to evolve and adapt to the stimuli of the modern lifestyle. That's why we witness an epidemic of sleep disorders in industrialized nations.

    The self improvement areas you listed (mediation, exercise) are actions/abilities/tasks that are built upon a foundation of knowledge. You can use the zettelkasten to track both your understanding of said topics and your progression. Every time you come across a new type of meditation, you can create a note for it. After having tried said meditation, you can then create a second note that is linked to the first about how it went and your thoughts. Say you dedicate every other Sunday towards self improvement work. You can then pull up these notes and further explore them. You can go into the research databases and look up what studies have been done on that type of meditation. If you find a study, than create a note for it and link to the already created notes.

    By doing all this you are building up a body of knowledge that helps further inform you in what decisions you decide to make regarding that topic (meditation in this case).

  • @Sociopoetic The life notes app is essentially a plain text app that stores assets either internally (inline images in Base64 text) or on the filesystem (IIRC).

    I would love a one stop, journal, reference, idea, deep thinking, and quantified self app that can surface configurable reports. I love me a snipe hunt! I had hoped Evernote would evolve in this direction, but they coded themselves into a huge corner -- we'll see how their rewrite pans out.

    Now to catch up on the above comments!

  • @kmac said:
    @Sociopoetic The life notes app is essentially a plain text app that stores assets either internally (inline images in Base64 text) or on the filesystem (IIRC).

    I would love a one stop, journal, reference, idea, deep thinking, and quantified self app that can surface configurable reports. I love me a snipe hunt! I had hoped Evernote would evolve in this direction, but they coded themselves into a huge corner -- we'll see how their rewrite pans out.

    The Life notes app looks interesting but also similar to other a couple of other note-taking apps, like Bear. The app that I use a lot and that you might consider for your "one stop" shop, is Scrivener. It was originally fashioned for people who write for a living but has so many other possible applications. I like that it lets you wrap your notes with any other kind of file, all in one container, and then output to so many different file formats.

  • I tag #self-reflection and #personal-insight in my Zettels all the time, as my personal growth does not happen in exclusion to my environment. ;^)

  • @Nick, you really nailed it for me. I do have knowledge related to those skills. That knowledge, in reality, is not just theory -- it's an integrated part of my practice, especially contemplative approaches to learning and exercises, etc. Thanks. There will definitely be some notes emerging from that line of thought alone.

    @ctietze , some of the comments here make me think about my use of tags. When might we expect some sort of tag index?

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • @Sociopoetic When it's done :) (Editor overhaul and scripts land first.)

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

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