Zettelkasten Forum


For Obsidian users, do you divide your permanent notes in folders?

I am trying to implement a Zettelkasten for my notes after realizing I have forgotten more in-depth knowledge than I should and don't have the tools to recollect these thoughts. I am wondering whether dividing my permanent notes into different folders (related to subject type, such as microsensors, frequency domain concepts, animation techniques, guitar tricks) would be beneficial or harmful in recollection.

Please let me know if more info is required to solve this issue.

Comments

  • @Avatasato Most people here would say "why bother", as you have the tools, between tags, connections between zettels, and structure notes, to organize and find things in your Zettelkasten. I'm not sure, but at least for The Archive, I believe all your zettels have to be in one folder. It's kink of counter-intuitive to put the zettels in separate directories on your computer.

  • If you use Obsidian, folders are mostly ornamental if you use the system-wide search and other general tools.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited December 2023

    Maintaining a big folder classification system can be a big effort.

    A rigid folder hierarchy may bring you to create silos of notes, where notes tend to link each other only into an area delimited by a main folder. In a zettelkasten implementation this can be a problem, but this separation can be a benefit in a different context.

    If you link "well" your notes each other and use index notes, folder classification can result much less important.

    It depends on tool you use for your your notes, too.
    I use Obsidan that has a very powerful link feature, so I can abandon folder classification without pain.
    Actually I'm using few of them only for split my global note space into macro-spaces (work, private life, ad so on) and for specific cases (I have a folder for template, a folder for attachments and few others).

    Folders can be useful for split notes by project, by types, and so on, but these are not "objects" of a zettelkasten. If you use other structures beyond zettelkasten in the same note space (I do so, for example), folder can be useful.

    It's a matter of personal taste, anyway. You can have a strong classification attitudine or a top down thinking approach, if you feel comfortable with folders why not use them. There's not rigid rules in notetaking, we only need to know that links, folders, tags, metadata have each one their pro and cons, knowing well different tools of the toolbox we can use them together consciously.

  • Although Obsidian has a very quick search spanning the entire archive as if it were a flat list of notes, it could be beneficial to have big categories to separate fleeting notes (the inbox) from permanent notes (your own) and literature/reference notes (others').

    I use the "Auto Mover" plugin to triage automatically notes based on identifying tags: #inbox, #mynote, #literature. And they go the right folder automatically.

    I wouldn't organize notes by topics: I use tags for types (note, person, book, etc) and [[links]] for related connections.
    Search is powerful enough to make complex queries filtering by type, topic, source, etc.

  • Ultimately, of course, the answer as always comes down to "whatever works for your methods." That said, however...

    I built a complex folder system for obsidian and used it for some time. There are a few cases where it was handy (most notably doing searches and being able to exclude whole folders), but on the whole it was a lot of overhead for not much value for me. As was said earlier, between tags and links (with which you can produce indices, MOCs, what have you), you can in most cases apply an ad-hoc structure over the flat file structure that fits the needs of the moment.

    I have some folders that I keep in my vault, because I want to be able to link to them, but they do not directly contribute in most cases to my notes per se. I keep my fiction in my vault (which is a questionable practice for a number of reasons, but it works for me). I have a directory with a bunch of older log/daily notes, so they're there for search but I rarely access them. I keep bookmarks in markdown format, one bookmark per file, so I have a subdirectory that's just bookmarks so they don't clutter everything. And up until recently, I had my daily notes in their own subdirectory, but I stopped doing that recently due to a difference in the way I approach daily notes (basically: work doesn't go there anymore) and so far, having them in the flat directory is just fine.

    Keeping in mind that I am about as far from pure ZK as is possible, and my needs are not specifically oriented around having a densely connected network of thought, I don't see any of the advantages of a mult-directory system pushing back toward actual Zettelkasten, if that's more what you're doing.

    Essentially- I had a complex folder system and have been moving over the course of years back to a flat file system. And of course the largest and most important advantage of having a single directory is that you can use The Archive too :wink: .

  • edited December 2023

    Please forgive my english :-)

    From what I've learned and thinked in the last year (I've discovered knowledge systems world last october), I think that there is no best and worst classification/organization system up front considering folders, tags, links, metadata and any other.
    Every system has his own strength and weakness.

    That said, how can I choose how to organize my notes?
    Reasoning on this, I've found three main driving forces that can lead to choose about, and all are very personal things.

    1) Everyone has a personal attitude or mental model with which he feels more or less comfortable with each mechanism cited above used, when he has to browse note space, search a specific note, to decide where to place a single note or relate it with other notes.

    2) each mechanism presents it own "friction" factors when it is used managing the notes in the daily routine. With friction I mean the slowdown or interruption point in the note writing activity that we need to have when we have to classificate or organize the piece of text in our note system. If I use folders, I have to pause a minute and I have to think in which folder place the note, if not exists create the folder, find the folder, and so on. If i use link, I have to think what are the notes I have to link the new note, find the notes, link them and so on. Every routine has is own time and stop moment to be spent. Every system need an effort to manage and refactor during time, too.
    I've learned in the last months, anyway, that friction can be negative (a waste of time and interruption of focus writing), but positive too (I've found the term "eufriction" about), this pause moment and time spent can be exploited to think and reflect about what I'm writing, to recall in my mind what I've written in the past, to reflect how what I've just written relates with already written. It's a fundamental aspect of notemaking and knowlegde processing, a totally frictionless system for me is ineffective because it cannot develop the "thinking about" moments.
    I can choose, at the end, the tool between tag set , folder set, link set that present the friction that is more suitable for my needs.

    3) It's very difficult to build the perfect classification/organization schema at the first attempt. I think that the right strategy is stop overthinking about, just study a little (not months) about pro and cons of every method, then just try to use. If after some time we notice that what we do doesn't work (we don't find the already written notes, we spend a long amount of time managing the schema, we feel frustrated on organinizing notes), just adjust or change the method. The "right system" emerge during practice after a long time, it's not designed up front.

    Applying these considerations to me, I've concluded that the most suitable schema for me is that done mainly with links, replacing folders with index notes. I use folders only for note sets that makes a "project", not for a subject classification. I don't use tags for subject classification too, only for "note status". Maintaining a big subject folder system is a big effort for me.
    I tend to be bottom up in my activity, too, so I feel more natural write the note and then think how to relate with my note system, instead of thinking up front in which folder to place the note and then write the note. links are more elastic than folder in this aspect.
    If I had to learn a technical school subject in my study years, anyway, I think that I would have used a very different approach. Systematic, top down, instead of bottom up. So, more folders. The purpose of our notes influences the way we need to organize them, too

    I think that what I've just written can become a note in my note system :-)

  • I would go against folders for thematic classification as this, to me, goes against one the huge benefits of the Zettelkasten: emerging order. Moreover, one note can (will) belong to one than more theme.

    I recommend having all Zettels in the same place, yes (one folder) but then use tags for themes. That can evolve and be reconfigured quite easily as your system grows.

    "A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it." - Ernest Hemingway

    PKM: Obsidian + DEVONthink, tasks: OmniFocus, production: Scrivener / Ableton Live.

  • @andang76 said:
    I think that what I've just written can become a note in my note system :-)

    Thanks for sharing. To see an idea molded and shaped in public is a rare experience. Using the forum for the thinking gymnastics of ideation is one of the key advantages of this place.

    Will Simpson
    My zettelkasten is for my ideas, not the ideas of others. I will try to remember this. I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon, I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @andang76 said:
    3) It's very difficult to build the perfect classification/organization schema at the first attempt. I think that the right strategy is stop overthinking about, just study a little (not months) about pro and cons of every method, then just try to use. If after some time we notice that what we do doesn't work (we don't find the already written notes, we spend a long amount of time managing the schema, we feel frustrated on organinizing notes), just adjust or change the method. The "right system" emerge during practice after a long time, it's not designed up front.

    Not overthinking your systems, instead trying this and that, taking advice from trusted mentors is a great starting place. Seeing what sticks and what doesn't.
    Remember that the goal is better thinking, not a better note system.

    Will Simpson
    My zettelkasten is for my ideas, not the ideas of others. I will try to remember this. I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon, I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.
    kestrelcreek.com

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