Zettelkasten Forum


Procrastination and Zettelkasten

I have realized that I have a tendency to use my zettelkasten as a form of procrastination. Its more productive procrastination than say, checking my email for the 10th time this hour, but I have noticed that oftentimes I sit down with the intent to write, but instead convince myself that writing could mean any one of the following:

  • Processing a book
  • Editing and linking zettels
  • Adding citations and quotes
  • Searching for connections
  • Convincing myself that I don't know enough about the topic I want to write about and that I need to research and read more
  • ... and then just researching and reading more

This kind of procrastination is true of any note-taking system, but I feel as though the zettelkasten lends itself to wool gathering and pondering more than others because of its structure. The creative induction process (something else I will write about) within the zettelkasten is fantastic, but its not writing. It's a productive sort of procrastination, just as reading can be productive procrastination, but if you sat down to write, I'm not sure that all of those other activities qualify. It feels like confusing motion with action. Instead of keeping a real beehive, you're still reading and making zettels about how to keep a beehive.

I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed this about themselves, and what sort of tactics they've used to defeat it. I can think of a few:

  • Walking off somewhere with a notebook away from your zettelkasten to just write
  • Setting separate writing and noting targets (750 words of writing that is not zettels, 2 completely distinct zettles)
  • free writing with a timer then extracting notes
  • separating the acts of processing, linking and editing as distinct from writing
  • truly time-boxing all of these separate activities into separate buckets
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