Zettelkasten Forum


Where do you put to-do thoughts?

So quite often i get distracted by thoughts of things to do for later today, tomorrow or next week.

I want to ask should i also put these into zettels? Where should I arrange them so that i have time to think about other ideas?

Comments

  • What sort of thoughts are distracting you? Are they things you want to look more into? Questions about the zettel you're writing? General tasks?

  • @prometheanhindsight said:
    What sort of thoughts are distracting you? Are they things you want to look more into? Questions about the zettel you're writing? General tasks?

    General tasks i guess. I can't concentrate because i keep worrying about things i have to do next.

  • Worrying about to-do's is not something I do in my Zettelkasten. I have a [https://bulletjournal.com/pages/learn](Bullet Journal) for that. The bullet journal site has gotten a bit too much for my taste, but there's other excellent resources.

  • @tree_t This kind of worrying went away when I found a "system I could trust" -- I drank the Getting Things Done kool-aid late when I was in school, and so I had lots of time to experiment in a time of life where not many things had to be done in the first place. In my daily practice, capturing stuff on either a piece of paper (always have that handy) or digitally in my to-do-list is important. Digital has the added benefit to force itself onto you with reminder/due dates. That may help with building trust in the first place, because while you can overlook a notification, you cannot as easily forget something.

    The trust part is really all about easing the mind: there's a place where the thought/problem/idea is captured, and you build the confidence that you'll act on it eventually by, well, taking time regularly to process things and act. And re-file, as needed. Writing "buy milk" on a random piece of paper won't make you remember that when you're in the store. It needs to find its way onto a grocery shopping list one way or another.

    Capturing everything + automated reminders appear to be most important to my practice. The tool doesn't matter as much. A bullet journal as ubiquitous companion that's always in sight and always being worked with is at least just as good as a smart phone. YMMV.

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

  • @tree_t said:

    @prometheanhindsight said:
    What sort of thoughts are distracting you? Are they things you want to look more into? Questions about the zettel you're writing? General tasks?

    General tasks i guess. I can't concentrate because i keep worrying about things i have to do next.

    I wouldn't keep tasks in my ZK. I usually keep a notebook or piece of paper near me, and when a thought distracts me I write it down. That act of writing it down usually helps clear it from my head so I can go back to concentrating. When I'm done with whatever I was concentrating on, I'll go through all of the things that I wrote down and either do them or move them into my task manager system.

  • @tree_t said:
    So, quite often, I get distracted by thoughts of things to do for later today, tomorrow, or next week.

    I want to ask, should I also put these into zettels? Where should I arrange them so that I have time to think about other ideas?

    Idea capture is a separate thing from to do capture but both are important if for nothing else than keeping your cognitive pressure low. @ctietze describes using a 'trusted system' for this above.

    Idea capture goes in the zettelkasten. To do capture goes in the journal, calendar, task manager, or on a scrap of handly paper.

    I personally keep a type of #2do in my zettelkasten. These are actions I want to take directly related to my knowledge work and workflow.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a zettelnant.
    Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • I’m a GTD groupie (I use OmniFocus) so fleeting items go in my paper notebook and the into the OmniFocus inbox the get categorized

  • @tree_t said:
    So quite often i get distracted by thoughts of things to do for later today, tomorrow or next week.

    I want to ask should i also put these into zettels? Where should I arrange them so that i have time to think about other ideas?

    I use The Archive for my ZK and NotePlan for todo's, bullet journalling, journalling of food intake (I'm learning I have too many food sensitivities), and maintaining a database of other notes and ideas that I don't want in my ZK.

    NotePlan is particularly good at journalling and at todo management.

  • Thank you everyone! I know that the problem is i haven't built a system that i trust yet so my mind doesn't let me focus (thanks How To Take Smart Notes). But purely writing down Todo list either digitally or on paper doesn't make me feel anymore secured...

  • It doesn't sound like you currently have a trusted system for ZKM nor GTD. While both systems try to be complete they have both their strengths and weaknesses. I recommend to keep them separate and make both as simple as possible.

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • edited September 17

    @zk_1000 said:
    It doesn't sound like you currently have a trusted system for ZKM nor GTD. While both systems try to be complete they have both their strengths and weaknesses. I recommend to keep them separate and make both as simple as possible.

    I think the simplicity part is one of the most important advice. Whatever you do, @tree_t, I suggest you keep this in mind.

    But you also asked for inspiration and implementations, so here we go: I have been using OmniFocus (OF) as a task manager for quite some time but soon experienced the same problems as you @tree_t. As OF is "just" a task manager, thoughts and ideas throughout the day have no place there. Also, while OF is limited on the note side, it is quite flexible in the means of setting up a system, thus it can get very complex and granular if you let it – in the worst case you end up spending half your day task managing instead of getting things done. After a while I got overwhelmed and couldn't really find the flexibility I needed. That’s why I switched to a paper-based approach.

    Currently I am trying to run a system that is similar to @Will's:

    1) Ideas get captured into ZK
    2) to-do-related thoughts go into my note book where I also manage my daily tasks and dates.

    That's it. My system is a mix of Bullet Journal and Time Blocking (as mentioned by Cal Newport) with OF as a master task list when I need a bird's eye view on my projects and areas of responsibility (as a father, university teacher, scholar, and photographer my life is rather fragmented).

    In the bullet journal I can freely "think" throughout the day (as it is paper) and jot down ideas and thoughts that come to my mind along the way (rapid logging) without worrying too much about where I put the damn note. I can be certain I find it again, because all is in one place.

    When I am back at my computer, I write down all ZK-related ideas I collected during the day and capture them in The Archive (while making sure to link them to other notes).

    With a small habit tracker I track a few habits I want to follow every day such as reading a novel for 10 minutes, leaving the house for at least 20 minutes a day or zettelkasting for at least 15–30 minutes a day. Like this I can remind myself to zettel at least 5 times a week.

    Every morning I consult my digital main task list and my digital calendar and think of all the things I need to do on that day and decide when I can do them. I use a daily plan bar mode (similar to the time blocking method) to assign times to the tasks as well as for the dates and appointments.

    At the end of the day or week (because I gain an overview of my daily tasks every day), I sit down and update my master task list in OF. Things can dramatically change in a week or day. Having a digital master task list (and a digital calendar) with reminders, I can manage those changes more frictionless than on paper. Of course, using both OF (or Taskpaper, ToDoist, etc.) and BuJo side by side can mean some redundancies but it doesn't bother me much. It rather helps me focus, find the glitches in my system and even acts as a failsafe.

    The core to the system is the daily plan with the possibility to take notes during the day no matter what’s the type of those notes (think of it as a kind of inbox for appointments, tasks and notes). Rest of the todo (main task list, habit tracker, digital calendar) is „just“ support. It sounds complex but actually it is not. In the end it all comes down to a piece of paper and a Zettelkasten.

    The main advantage for me is that I can stop using this system for some time and can get back to it quite easily. With OmniFocus it was always a week of trial and error and figuring out what my current system should look like.

    I think that answered more than just your question but I thought I’d provide a more complete picture. Hope it helps you finding inspiration to build your trusted system.

    Post edited by analogue_man on
  • @Will said:

    I personally keep a type of #2do in my zettelkasten. These are actions I want to take directly related to my knowledge work and workflow.

    I like this approach! Do you keep a single note with ZK #2do items, or are they spread out across multiple notes?

  • @prometheanhindsight, I used to keep them all over my zettelkasten, here, there and everywhere. I entered a #2do where ever I was when the idea for a #2do seemed appropriate. I used a 'Saved Search' to group them for review and action. This seemed, after a time, to be a bit messy. So, I made a note called My Knowledge Project Todo's 202106150830. It is still messy but at least it is a localized mess and I can track additional items associated with the #2do's.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a zettelnant.
    Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • edited September 17

    Since ZK is primarily an idea-capturing system, with the end goal of producing writing, content, creations, and knowledge, "to-dos" would be best served filed somewhere else. I have a GTD system set up in Notion that I use for all that. In that system there is a spot for me to take quick (fleeting) notes, as well. But, once I hit "send" they fly away into the ZK system waiting to be finalized and sorted. I do, however, agree with above re to-dos explicitly about the constructing of ideas and knowledge that directly relates to the contents of the Zk finding its place in the ZK. I will definitely include in my ZK a note discussing a way to take a certain concept at a later date, etc.

  • @tree_t

    I've had a similar issue for to-dos like "connect this Zettel to this other Zettel" or "make a Zettel for this idea,"

    I've had great success with keeping a file in my Zettelkasten called "Inbox" à la GTD, then processing it daily first things first when I look at my Zettelkasten. It's like @Will's system but simplified to a list of few keywords per reminder.

    E.g.:

    • barbell reading assignment
    • bdays overrated
    • mc mobs like college tests

    It may not work for you, but perhaps you could take inspiration. I wonder how others tackle this, though.

  • @Dilan_Zelsky said:
    @tree_t

    I've had a similar issue for to-dos like "connect this Zettel to this other Zettel" or "make a Zettel for this idea,"

    I've had great success with keeping a file in my Zettelkasten called "Inbox" à la GTD, then processing it daily first things first when I look at my Zettelkasten. It's like @Will's system but simplified to a list of few keywords per reminder.

    E.g.:

    • barbell reading assignment
    • bdays overrated
    • mc mobs like college tests

    It may not work for you, but perhaps you could take inspiration. I wonder how others tackle this, though.

    I have a large chalkboard for daily tasks, but for zettelkasten related curation / cleanup I reserve the markdown checkbox.

    If I have some note A which I want to refactor into two notes I'll put a checbox usually with no text following. Then I use a plugin to agregate all checkboxes into one note giving me a ZK-related set of note IDs indicating which Zs to go over. No extra tagging etc.

    Then I print the notes with checkboxes, play around with them, scribble any changes, make the changes in the digital ZK and I'm done.

  • @bradfordfournier said:
    I have a large chalkboard for daily tasks, but for zettelkasten related curation / cleanup I reserve the markdown checkbox.

    If I have some note A which I want to refactor into two notes I'll put a checbox usually with no text following. Then I use a plugin to agregate all checkboxes into one note giving me a ZK-related set of note IDs indicating which Zs to go over. No extra tagging etc.

    Then I print the notes with checkboxes, play around with them, scribble any changes, make the changes in the digital ZK and I'm done.

    Interesting approach. You could do the following instead: Tag the Zettels, write down the changes in a notebook and then add them into the Zettels. Mind explaining how you find your procedure helpful in comparison with the one I described?

    I'm not against your approach, though. Just curious about how you find it useful because I might steal it if I find your answer convincing. :smile:

    By the way, you seem to be describing the way you proofread your Zettels. Is my interpretation correct? If so, how do you handle other to-dos such as connecting two existing Zettels?

    Looking forward to your reply.

  • @Dilan_Zelsky said:
    Interesting approach. You could do the following instead: Tag the Zettels, write down the changes in a notebook and then add them into the Zettels. Mind explaining how you find your procedure helpful in comparison with the one I described?

    I'm not against your approach, though. Just curious about how you find it useful because I might steal it if I find your answer convincing. :smile:

    By the way, you seem to be describing the way you proofread your Zettels. Is my interpretation correct? If so, how do you handle other to-dos such as connecting two existing Zettels?

    Looking forward to your reply.

    I suppose the first thing I should mention is that I maintain a physical and digital copy of my Zettelkasten. Also, I only have one folder.

    My work as a researcher means my plan for the day tends to be project and writing centric. So, "go buy groceries" might be something I remind myself to do -- its not a "to-do" in the context of my work/research/interests-- and thus likely would just go on my chalkboard or in my notebook I keep with me.

    Now, regarding my workflow mentioned: the following are strictly personal to the way my brain works -- I am not advocating, just sharing.

    • I'm a tag miser -- except for inline item-type "tags" I only use actual tags for notes as entry points to a sub-concept: primarily in structure notes and what would be -- in a physical zk -- a note on a new idea branch.
    • So, given the nature of my work, my to-do's are largely research / writing oriented and thus correspond to writing and working with my notes. The two types of to-do's that come up are
      • What do I want to elaborate "in" a note
      • How do I want to transform a particular note -- like splitting to make them more atomic. I.e., what do do "to" a note.
    1. In the first case, related to content which needs to extend or create a note, I use a buffer note as a holding tank.
    2. In the case of refactoring, reworking, adding needed links -- i.e., note-specific-to-dos -- I use the checkbox, aggregated into a single note with annotations of what I was in the process of doing to that specific note.

    As you know, I prefer "playing with notes" physically. So the process in (2) is then carried out on my physical ZK, and then implemented in the digital copy, while (1) is done on my digital zk.

  • @bradfordfournier

    Your approach is personal indeed. I work differently with my Zettelkasten, but taking inspiration in how you handle to-dos about Zettels would greatly simplify my workflow.

    Thank you for sharing and congrats for such a simple system!

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