Zettelkasten Forum


Mind Blown

edited February 28 in Introduce Yourselves!

Firstly, thank you all for the sharing, discussions, and collaboration on this forum! I've been quietly perusing the forum for a few days now, and I have already gotten so much from everything that I've read. Looking forward to joining in!

I've spent a lot of time this past year looking for software-agnostic methods of managing my to-dos and landed on todo.txt. It was so liberating! I also began using a basic markdown journaling plugin on VS Code to manage meeting minutes and other notes, but wasn't as satisfied. I've gone back and forth using physical notebooks, Apple Notes, Evernote, and other applications, but always felt stifled and uninterested. Coming across Zettlekasten and The Archive has been life changing, literally.

At first, I loved the simplicity and great craftsmanship of The Archive, but once I got into the swing of things with ZK, the genius of the two unleashed a ton of creativity and excitement in me to write. I began seeing my thoughts connect, my unearthed and incomplete ideas finding a home, and the motivation to do more explode!

So, thank you all once again!

Comments

  • @rak1 I too am a great fan and user of The Archive, and have been building a Zettelkasten for about 6 months.

    I wanted to alert you to another app I heard about on this forum, which has also changed my life. It is called NotePlan (for the Apple universe only). It’s a fantastic combination of calendar, todo, note-taking, and bullet journal. Best of all - everything is stored in plain text files and the Markdown capabilities of the app are superb.

  • edited March 1

    @rak1 Thanks for sharing this with us! That's very uplifting :) Welcome aboard

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

  • @GeoEng51 said:
    I wanted to alert you to another app I heard about on this forum, which has also changed my life. It is called NotePlan (for the Apple universe only).

    I'd love to know more about how NotePlan changed the game for you. Can you share your workflow and processes?

  • @ctietze said:
    @rak1 Thanks for sharing this with us! That's very uplifting :) Welcome aboard

    Thank you!

  • @rak1 said:

    I'd love to know more about how NotePlan changed the game for you. Can you share your workflow and processes?

    In the past, I've used several apps to keep track of what I want to do and am doing - a calendar to schedule meetings, Things to manage todo's, and a paper bullet journal to record what is happening in my life. Noteplan integrates all these activities into one app, in a seamless and very intuitive way. People familiar with taking notes in plain text files and employing Markdown will feel right at home in this app.

    NotePlan integrates your calendar with a Daily Notes section, in which you can place anything you desire. There is one note for each day, which may contain a variety of sections and multiple line items. It fully implements Markdown, with all the expected formatting, heading, quotes, and links. In the daily note view is also a list of all items scheduled (in your calendar) for that day. So your scheduled items, todo's and other daily note items all show up on one screen.

    In each daily note, I typically have sections for Activities, Meeting Notes, Ideas, and Bullet Journal entries. Obviously, you can create whatever headings make sense to you, that fit your workflow. Under each heading there are a number of line items, appearing either as bullets or as todo's.

    In addition to the daily note, there is an area for General Notes, which can be organized into folders, sub-folders, etc., i.e., any hierarchical system you want. These are independent of the daily notes and act in a manner similar to many other note-taking systems (except see below).

    There are several features that I use a lot:

    1. You can connect (via wiki-like links) any note to any other note. So, for example, I might under a daily note say that I attended a meeting on a particular project or with certain people. I would then provide a link to a general note that contained a record of that meeting. When I click on that link, I am taken to that general note and I see a backlink to the daily line item.
    2. Line items in a note (daily note or general note) can be a standard bullet point or a todo item (open, completed or cancelled). A todo item can be scheduled to be done on a certain date; it then shows up in the daily note for that date (with a backlink to wherever it was originally entered). Once it is marked as completed, it shows up as completed everywhere that line item occurs.
    3. There is an excellent Review function that allows you to see all open todo's; I check that regularly and schedule the higher priority ones for completion on a particular date. In addition to the Review and Daily Note views, there is a Week view (which also integrates bullet points, todo's and calendar items).
    4. You can use tags in a similar manner to most good note-taking systems, assigned to any line item (bullet or todo). I use tags to set priorities on items that have not yet been scheduled. Obviously, there are a lot of other uses to which one can put tags.
    5. It is possible to store a full Zettelkasten within one folder in your General Notes section. The app has full functionality to implement all of the aspects of a Zettelkasten that are discussed on this forum. Links are made to the first line of each note (rather than the file name), so one has to give some thought as to what goes on that first line (e.g., a UID and a title). I have tried this out but decided to keep my ZK in The Archive, for various reasons.
    6. The general search function is also very powerful - just in case you can't find something you were looking for, but remember some content. With proper tagging and linking, this is rare.

    Here is some of my workflow:

    1. I typically sit down at the end of the day, review my activities, make bullet journal entries, and then review what is coming up for the next few days (both calendared items and items entered under the Activities section of the daily notes). I make use of the "daily notes" view, the "week" view, and the "Review" view.
    2. Whenever I think of something that I want to get done or want to check up on, I just enter a todo or a reminder (bullet point) under Activities on a particular day. If I get to that day and don't have time to follow up, I use the "move" function to schedule it for some future time.
    3. I take notes for meetings under the General Notes section (I have folders for each project on which I work and in those folders a note for each meeting or discussion or idea session). If any todo's arise from those meetings, they show up as separate line items that are assigned a priority (using a specific tag) and possibly are also "scheduled" so that they also show up in a daily note on a particular date.
    4. Re: the previous item, a short description of the meeting goes under the Activities section of the Daily Note, accompanied by a link to the full set of notes for that meeting which is stored in the General Notes section. This keeps my Daily Notes free of too much clutter.
    5. Specific line items may also be tagged for later retrieval (e.g., tagged with an "idea" label).

    Well, that's enough. I encourage you to try out the app, if it sounds of interest. You can get a month's free trial, which is more than enough time to check it out. After trying it out for about 2 weeks, I was more than happy to sign up for the annual subscription cost.

  • edited March 2

    NotePlan is one of the apps available via the Setapp subscription service. I was extremely sceptical of Setapp when it first appeared, but for various reasons I succumbed and started a subscription. I'm not exactly a fan, but I think I get enough value out of it to justify it. And in this case I could give NotePlan an extended trial without it costing me anything extra if I decided it was good for me.

  • @GeoEng51 Thank you for the detailed share! Very interesting, indeed. I'll be sure to check out NotePlan. I am trying to remain as software/app agnostic as possible, but open to trying new things for sure! I guess the biggest challenge with taking a software agnostic approach to managing personal knowledge and tasks is the fragmentation. Would be interesting to discover ways of consolidating everything while remaining free of any app dependency...

  • @MartinBB said:
    NotePlan is one of the apps available via the Setapp subscription service.

    I wasn't really aware of Setapp. I'll check that out. Thanks for the reply and suggestion!

  • @rak1 said:
    I guess the biggest challenge with taking a software agnostic approach to managing personal knowledge and tasks is the fragmentation. Would be interesting to discover ways of consolidating everything while remaining free of any app dependency...

    This is a familiar problem to me, too. I think if one really wants to keep everything in plain text in the filesystem (and not inside a database of some kind) then about the only solution is Finder tags, intratextual tags, or file-naming systems that allow one to gather items together. Brett Terpstra has written about tagging systems at some length -- https://brettterpstra.com/2013/12/20/automatic-filing-with-hazel-and-mavericks-tags/ -- the post is old, but I gather he still uses the system. I have also begun to experiment with Hook https://hookproductivity.com -- of course it is another app ... But failing that, I can't really think of anything except tags, folder hierarchies, and filenames. I used to use DEVONthink as an organisational tool, but I became disenchanted with it. Too many problems with sync. Someone will probably recommend something like Emacs, but that really is outside my knowledge. I barely know what it is, but I gather it will do everything including cooking eggs for breakfast. ;)

  • @MartinBB said:
    But failing that, I can't really think of anything except tags, folder hierarchies, and filenames. I used to use DEVONthink as an organisational tool, but I became disenchanted with it. Too many problems with sync. Someone will probably recommend something like Emacs, but that really is outside my knowledge. I barely know what it is, but I gather it will do everything including cooking eggs for breakfast. ;)

    That is pretty much spot-on regarding Emacs :) But it's an ecosystem of its own with pitfalls and traps, too.

    I recently discovered a game developer who started using computers as a child of 7 with DOS and C64 computers, where the BASIC programming language was prevalent, and he argues that this interaction with the computer was beneficial to his journey and career -- because today's computer users are gifted with layers upon layers of abstraction of the core functionality of the computer. This is beneficial, because you can learn to use touch screens and a graphical user interface on the computer much quicker with arguably more appealing feedback. Then again, one "forgets" what's going on under the hood. This is the old trope of how GUI is dumbing-down users vs how hackers want everyone to live in a terminal.

    I'm not interested in 0s and 1s on the CPU, but regarding file manipulation, there's a seemingly unchanging access to it all hidden away from regular users.

    macOS Finder and Spotlight search are a good approximation. Windows Explorer and its full-text search kinda sorta works, too. It's not universal, but good enough. It's also super unsexy, I think.

    I wonder if access to a folder of notes could be revealed in an accessible way, without users having to learn how to navigate the terminal, while still allowing them to do what they want. In Emacs, you can program your own text editor, including making [[wiki links]] in text documents clickable, for example. But the price is very high, compared to sticking to Notepad.exe to view and edit files :)

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

  • @MartinBB - Hook is a very interesting concept. I'm going to check it out. It led me to EagleFiler, which is also quite interesting - but again, I can imagine with hundreds (or thousands) of files and folders, one could eventually find themselves dependent on the software's file structure and system (which at this stage is not universal and likely to be incompatible with others). This discussion (and many others on this forum) has really gotten me interested in the idea of designing systems based on existing tools...

    Emacs also looks very interesting. @ctietze, I can totally agree with the idea of learning what's happening beneath the UI as a benefit. I started off with DOS and BASIC myself, and learning how to manipulate files and folders (and the OS itself) through a terminal deepened my general understanding of how computers operated and the powerful things that they can do. But, that was a long time ago, and I'm now very reliant on interfaces as most people are. I have, however, been interested for a while now of looking at ways of combining the convenience of UIs with the power of terminal commands - like through chatbots for example - to create simpler versions of more complicated software and processes. A few years ago, I created a chatbot for personal budget management which I feel did this.

  • @rak1 said:
    It led me to EagleFiler, which is also quite interesting

    I've had a licence for EagleFiler for a looong time, but never really used it because I was using DEVONthink. But I've had a lot of trouble with the latter over the past year, so I might look at EagleFiler again.

    Another tool I have found useful is Leap -- https://ironicsoftware.com. It might be worth checking out.

    My most-used search tool is HoudahSpot -- https://houdah.com/houdahSpot/ -- it is the way I find most things on my hard drives.

  • @MartinBB Both very interesting! I used to hoard tons of digital junk and could have done with these search tools a few years ago! I now run a much leaner digital life and don't really have many problems in finding files... but, things can (and likely will) change. Good to know these apps exist. I like Houdah Spot in particular.

    Stumbled across minus.app today. Haven't tried it yet, but looks very interesting. It positions itself as a "simpler than terminal" and "less cluttered than your desktop" productivity suite...

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