Zettelkasten Forum


When to create zettels?

I have been using the zettelkasten system since this time in 2019. I started after reading How to Take Smart Notes and started using ZKN3, however quickly ran into some resistance and found this wonderful site and The Archive. Over 3000 notes later I am seeing the benefits of linked ideas and being able to find ideas which I was alway going ... “I’ve read this somewhere, but cannot remember where”.

I read extensively, often on the go during the day. Often it will be a quick read of a journal article while trying to answer a question which has come up in the run of my work which is immediately put into action. Also this is not immediately entered into my zettelkasten. Thus I have highlighted articles and books collected in my article collector of choice, Readcube Papers.

With regards to breaking this problem with workflow, do people find it easier to make a quick reference in the zettalkasten as a note at the time that they read the information or prefer to sit down and process the work in detail when you have the time?

Jd

Comments

  • Personally, I'm still on the hunt for a good inbox/to-be-processed system. I'm in want of one for both use with notes of this kind, and for capture in general from a GTD perspective. Having that "ubiquitous capture" or "universal input" place for an idea to at least start, to then process later, feels like it would be a big gain in my practices (as long as I continued the downstream processes needed to keep that Inbox from becoming a dump/graveyard...).

    Most people here will be of similar opinions, especially in regards to a Zettelkasten. Ideas that go into there should be Full Ideas, which doesn't lend itself well to a quick jot directly from a source while on the go. Possible, yes, but far more likely to just be a half-formed idea that needs fleshing out further before being allowed into it's final place within an Archive.

  • @s323386 said:
    With regards to breaking this problem with workflow, do people find it easier to make a quick reference in the zettalkasten as a note at the time that they read the information or prefer to sit down and process the work in detail when you have the time?

    Jd

    Jd, my workflow contains both "quick references" and "process in detail" note creation. I find value in both. Between the super quick noting and the serious Deep Work, I don't limit myself to a rigid workflow. Life is busy, sometimes all you have time for is a quick note, misspellings, poor formatting, no linking, orphaned. But at least it is captured for later discovery. My workflow includes time to meander through my archive randomly renewing memory and actively looking for connections using The Archive's "Omin Bar". (Wouldn't be nice if you could use regex on the Omni Bar or in Saved Searches?) I also use a Keyboard Maestro macro to get a listing of all the notes I've created or modified since the last time I ran the macro and I start by reviewing these, adding links, beautifying, correcting spelling and grammar, adding more context where relevant. Currently, I'm doing this daily as part of my Monk Morning Routine and found it usually only takes 10 mins to do a review but in that amount of time I make connections and links.

    Finding time for the Deep Work of "zettelkasting" is such a precious joy.

    I'm currently processing
    1. Reginald Horace Blyth (1952): Haiku
    2. Robert E Ornstein and Paul R Ehrlich (1989): New world new mind: moving toward conscious evolution
    3. Keith Oatley and Maja Djikic (2008): Writing as Thinking

    My philosophy here is sometimes I'm the hare and sometimes I'm the tortoise.

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

  • @Will I've kept coming back to your posts when seeking clarity on my humble ZK usage. I must say, you... bring simplicity to the table and I was even inspired by how you structured your notes.

    Really just wanted to say thanks, because I too have struggled as OP has.

  • edited January 29

    @mleo2003 wrote:
    Having that "ubiquitous capture" or "universal input" place for an idea to at least start, to then process later, feels like it would be a big gain in my practices (as long as I continued the downstream processes needed to keep that Inbox from becoming a dump/graveyard...).

    I think that is the primary concern of this matter. From my observation, there are quit few differences in the technical solution you pick. In the end, you create physical and virtual piles of not processed sources. One can even make the case for having exzerpts as Zettel in the Zettelkasten. I personally have annotated pdfs in a folder for articles.

    If you run into the habit of reading a lot (annotating counts as a reading technique and is preliminary to the actual processing step) you have to make a decision on how to solve this problem.

    I do not sit down if (or when) I have time. I dedicate time to solely process what has piled up. That is way more productive than having a universal input.

    Having said that, I think any software that acts as a storage will be sufficient. I wittnessed people using Evernote, DevonThink and similar software for this purpose. But Collector's Fallacy is lurking if you make the solution to convenient. Over long periods of time, we humans tend to value comfort and pleasure too much compared to actual productivity. A case can be made for making access to the inbox inconvenient. :smile:

    EDIT: I even have a small paragraph with the (Zettel-)title Kill the Inbox. I am way more organised when I put everything where it belongs. I deviate from the GTD at this point. The same holds true for the Zettelkasten Method which shares some properties with GTD.

    I am a Zettler

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