# Two window workflow keeps target in focus

edited April 2021 in Writing

In this short (3:30) video I demonstrate using a two window workflow to develop an outline for a presentation.
I use this same workflow to write essays, blog posts, and refactor specific notes.
Having a window where you don't loose your focus is key.

Questions? Suggestions?
What else might you want demonstrated?
If I can't, maybe someone else might step up.

Post edited by Will on

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• hello, @Will

thank you for this video. Can you explain a bit more what you are working on?. Is your outline for the final presentation the last step before writing the final document or are you directly writing this outline into a final document?

my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

• Sorry, I wasn't too clear on the nature of this note/project/assignment. This particular outline is for a presentation of the final essay in this class. I've already written the essay. As part of the class requirements (ENGL473 Survey of Pacific Northwest Regional Literiture), the instructor wants us to give a short presentation to the rest of the class on our essay. This is in preparation for that.

This same method is useful in preparing a document of any type, the beginning of an essay, a presentation outline, a blog post, uni course work, really, any writing at all.

This note will be on my screen in teleprompter mode while I give my presentation tomorrow. After that, it will become part of the course material in my archive. And the class will be over. In my archive, there are 95 notes with the tag #ENGL473 of which 17 are structure notes on the books read for this class, 25 are #class-notes, 4 office visit notes, and 3 Google Scholar article reviews.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• Thanks for sharing!

Could you tell how you invoked the search for "Traveling Through the Dark" in the left window, based on a selection in the right window?

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

• Yes, good eye. I invoked a simple Keyboard Maestro macro.
Highlight the target text and trigger macro. Keeping the target note I'm working on in focus is so important to my workflow that this is the most common macro I use and I have another ⇧F1 that quotes the text for a phrase search in the second window.

Window with Index of 2 created with another very simple Keyboard Maestro macro.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• Do you have to hard-code the index 2 inside, or is this by design? From far away, it looks like it'd be useful to use 'the other window' so the same shortcut works both ways. But maybe your setup is designed to treat the left-hand side as the part where you look things up, and the right-hand side as the part where you chiefly collect things.

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

• Will, I must say that I'm impressed with your Keyboard Maestro virtuosity and (probably even more so) by your use of your Zettelkasten and The Archive. I'm looking forward to more videos. They are very inspiring.

• @ctietze said:
From far away, it looks like it'd be useful to use 'the other window' so the same shortcut works both ways.

I didn't intentionally design the 'left/right, index 1/2, back/forth' aspects, but they are working out fine. The macro always uses the "other window" as index 2. The index must switch, and the active window must always be index 1. If I'm in the left-hand window and execute the macro, the search query is sent to the right window. The same is true if I'm working in the right-hand window; the search is sent to the left window. I have to watch when I'm doing this though I can lose the note I'm focusing on when I do that. Sometimes the note I'm focusing on, working with, is on the left. This is no problem.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• Gotcha, that's good to know!

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

• edited April 2021

@rhubarb, thank you for your kind words.
Every time I do one of these short videos, I think, never again! My voice is so distracting. I don't feel I get my ideas across very well. I feel trapped inside a body that stutters, and stammers. I'm old and decrypted.
Then l get a comment like yours, which gladdens my heart, and I'm inspired to do another one.

Post edited by Will on

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• @Will it is not distracting at all. Much to the contrary i find your voice is very calm and pleasant to listen to.

my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

• @zk_1000 said:
@Will it is not distracting at all. Much to the contrary i find your voice is very calm and pleasant to listen to.

Jap. Me too. I like your voice @will.

I am a Zettler

• @Will - thanks - that is a helpful demonstration. Cheers!

• @Will Thank you for presenting such an interesting workflow. Even without Keyboard Maestro magic, having two windows open is such a simple and clever idea to keep focus on the note and be able to search and retrieve notes from the rest of the Archive.

• edited May 2021

Hi all, a long time lurker here but only one post due to my so-so English. Nevertheless I am here now just to say hello and to tell everybody how much do I appreciate the forum. Too much to learn!!! A big thank to @ctietze, @sfast and all the members of this beautiful community. @Will: you are a great zettelnant and a great person. Your posts and your videos are so enlightening- please keep on posting. @MartinBB I need some English lessons :-) Bye from Genova, Italy

• @Ubaldo_Passamonti

Welcome to posting on the forum. Your English is fine; keep on doing it!

• @sfast said:

@zk_1000 said:
@Will it is not distracting at all. Much to the contrary i find your voice is very calm and pleasant to listen to.

Jap. Me too. I like your voice @will.

Agree with the others. The video presentations are very helpful and charming. In fact, you're all charming.

Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport.

• edited May 2021

@Ubaldo_Passamonti said:
I need some English lessons

Non mi sembra! In bocca al lupo!

• @ZettelDistraction, thank you for your kind words, I think.
'Charming" and I or anything I've done has never been used in the same sentence before.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• @Will said:
'Charming" and I or anything I've done has never been used in the same sentence before.

I am pleased to have been the first.

Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport.

• Hi @Will, your video is amazing! It's "fresh" to see someone giving a straightforward tutorial without the "uptone" voices normally seen on YouTube.

If I may request, I'm curious about how you develop and/or emerge your structure notes from your archive for interlinked notes. (still looking forward to the online course though...)

Looking at the video, (and your other posts back then) I saw that you're creating structure notes for:

1. Poems and source material
2. Top level "huge umbrellas"

Anyway, in creating the "middle-level" structure, here are the sort of "methods" I've learned so far:

Creating structure, or better yet, in Will-tionary, Annotated TOC 😁

1. Giving-structure-to-notes-with-the-same-tags method — the "huge umbrella", top level note
2. Creating a structure note when a new subject of interest or some 'intellectual pursuit' pops up. For example, I made a "Rabbitholes" structure note to contain all questions I'd like to research in my own time, and possibly curb getting distracted by random bursts of curiosity.
3. Structure notes that are sort of "running outlines" for a writing project. I've just started doing these and separating the archive for "finished products" — and I've found your video above helpful for working with that system. 😁

Developing structure notes

In developing my structure notes, I just add notes into the structure notes, and see whether they connect/contradict/combine with the existing ideas.

I feel like there's a better way — I mean, what about the scenario when you've linked 3 levels deep to a note inside the structure note? How do we make something out of it? Of course, I don't know what "something" is yet, but I'm curious about that.

Back then, I felt like it's the only way to create structure and have made quite ridiculous posts about it without actually doing it. But when I started to actually use structure notes, I found that it wasn't that easy to make a structure for them.

Which brings me back to the question...

What do you "do" to a series of interlinked notes? Do you make structure for them?

I asked because I'm having resistance linking my notes. Intuitively, I it's good to link them because that way you're processing at a deeper level, but I don't quite get how you make something out of them.

I probably haven't linked enough, but I suspect that having at least a vague idea of it will help reduce the resistance. Perhaps this calls for a new thread? I don't know. I feel like it's a silly question, but then it's silly if I just keep this to myself and stay stuck for months on end.

• @improveism said:
Hi @Will, your video is amazing! It's "fresh" to see someone giving a straightforward tutorial without the "uptone" voices normally seen on YouTube.

I have two general types of structure notes—those associated with an entity and those associated with a concept.

1. Entity - class, books, long-form articles, some research papers
• I see these as having a definitive timeline.
• these emerge out of the object
1. Concept - for me, research areas like procrastination, goal setting, writing skills, thinking skills
• I see these as having open-ended timelines.
• these arise out of the background of my life. For example, I'm thinking lately about how new ideas are created or discovered and how to overcome resistance. While driving today, serendipity struck with the idea, "What does thinking feel like?" I'll develop this idea and stick it on the thinking skills structure note.

Creating structure, or better yet, in Will-tionary, Annotated TOC 😁

This made me laugh! This originated with @ctietze or maybe @sfast when we were discussing structure notes. The lesser types are just lists of links grouped together, giving them structure. T like a TOC. The better ones have explanations (annotations) as to the why of the links. Most of mine are a mix of grouped unannotated, and annotated links.

...what about the scenario when you've linked 3 levels deep to a note inside the structure note? How do we make something out of it? Of course, I don't know what "something" is yet, but I'm curious about that.

By 3 levels deep, do you mean "how do we make something out of" a note link chain that leads from here, a note of initial interest, to a second note that at one time you felt connected together with the first note? When pursuing the second note, your bat-sense gets triggered by the title or description of a link to a third note. This is a note-chain that, for some cosmic reason, is relevant to your life situation in the present. Relish it.

I'd say we've fallen down a velvet-lined rabbit hole. We're so lucky! For me, that is enough "something" made out of the adventure. This kind of play in the sandbox of zettelkasten is stimulating and nurturing. It might lead to something, but I find I can't force creativity.

What do you "do" to a series of interlinked notes? Do you make structure for them?

No, if we are talking about the note chains like those described above. In a well-linked zettelkasten, these link chains exist everywhere. I just have to take the time to look.

I asked because I'm having resistance linking my notes. Intuitively, it's good to link them because that way you're processing at a deeper level, but I don't quite get how you make something out of them... but I suspect that having at least a vague idea of it will help reduce the resistance.

Almost all of my notes start from one of my structure notes. When I start a note, I take a moment to determine where on the structure note to place it initially. Don't make a fuss about this. We can move the link later. But at least it is a start.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• edited May 2021

I have two general types of structure notes—those associated with an entity and those associated with a concept.

Oh, gotcha. So it's mostly based on how "open ended" the structure is — and I suspect that you also have overlaps between the two, right?

I'm surprised it looks similar to what I'm currently using:

✱ - Top level concept
• - Not top level concept
α - From sources
Ω - Those with deadlines/specific output

😁

This made me laugh! This originated with @ctietze or maybe @sfast when we were discussing structure notes. The lesser types are just lists of links grouped together, giving them structure. T like a TOC. The better ones have explanations (annotations) as to the why of the links. Most of mine are a mix of grouped unannotated, and annotated links.

Haha! I saw it around a year ago when you answered my question on this forum, and since then I've began to make sense of my notes.

I find that when I'm trying to add context to the links, I mostly rephrase what's inside the linked note. Is that good, or is that redundant?? 🤔

When pursuing the second note, your bat-sense gets triggered by the title or description of a link to a third note. This is a note-chain that, for some cosmic reason, is relevant to your life situation in the present. Relish it.
I'd say we've fallen down a velvet-lined rabbit hole. We're so lucky! For me, that is enough "something" made out of the adventure. This kind of play in the sandbox of zettelkasten is stimulating and nurturing. It might lead to something, but I find I can't force creativity.

Oh, that brings it home! Thanks for these. So in short, it was probably the overthinking and the "resistance" to linking that's preventing me from making "something" from those links.

Almost all of my notes start from one of my structure notes. When I start a note, I take a moment to determine where on the structure note to place it initially. Don't make a fuss about this. We can move the link later. But at least it is a start.

No, you actually made it clear to me now. I can't quite explain it in a few words, but everything you said reassured me that I was pretty much in the right direction. 👍

• @improveism said:
Oh, gotcha. So it's mostly based on how "open ended" the structure is — and I suspect that you also have overlaps between the two, right?

No, they are distinct. Both types of structure note basically look the same and are built the same, but I use them and update them differently. Whenever I start talking about a structure note and how I use it, I have to distinguish between the uni course note that I refer to from time to time but have never refactored once the class is over. The concept structure notes that I visit often and refactor parts of as my dance with the concept evolves.

I'm surprised it looks similar to what I'm currently using:

✱ - Top level concept
• - Not top level concept
α - From sources
Ω - Those with deadlines/specific output

Careful, with a scheme like this, every note will have a signifier, and the signifier will become less valuable. Also, this is a slippery slope because, at some point, you'll become interested in separating sources, high, medium, low quality, or academic, public, private, or maybe you'll refine your ideas about levels and concepts. I'm currently rethinking my use of note signifiers.

I find that when I'm trying to add context to the links, I mostly rephrase what's inside the linked note. Is that good, or is that redundant?? 🤔

With a mass of notes, any search target will have several hits. Looking at links and the surrounding text will determine the scope of relevance to the current project. A summary phrase helps, as does the question the note answers. Really anything will help. Titling your notes is a keystone skill.

The thing that is so hard to get is when making the link and annotation, and you have no idea if you'll ever look at it again and if you do, will it be meaningful? Even knowing this, you must go on and do your best. When you start coming across these link/annotation combos and feel the energy from the preparation they give, you'll look at your old plain links and wonder.

I'm not the best example of my own advice. Time has an opportunity cost associated with it, and I too often skip annotating a link.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• I've been asked, "how to get the two-window setup?" Simple really. Use the menu item "New Tab", "Move Tab to New Window", size one window on the right and one on the left. This is my default work mode and I use a Keyboard Maestro macro to help make the setup smooth and repeatable.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/07tp3s4vw576i5d/Second Editor Window.kmmacros?dl=0

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• Careful, with a scheme like this, every note will have a signifier, and the signifier will become less valuable. Also, this is a slippery slope because, at some point, you'll become interested in separating sources, high, medium, low quality, or academic, public, private, or maybe you'll refine your ideas about levels and concepts. I'm currently rethinking my use of note signifiers.

Oh, that got me thinking: Maybe it's really optional to have such distinctions? I felt like it was necessary when I started it but when I thought about it, the signifier could easily be the same for structure notes from a literature, a concept, or even an outline for a middle level structure note:

20210507164404 • The Book of Books —> so this one's a structure note that comes from a processed material
20210507164410 • Skill Learning —> and this one's a structure note for a concept

As long as you can "make the structure notes float in your archive" and make them accessible, perhaps using signifiers doesn't matter a lot? What do you think of this?

With a mass of notes, any search target will have several hits. Looking at links and the surrounding text will determine the scope of relevance to the current project. A summary phrase helps, as does the question the note answers. Really anything will help. Titling your notes is a keystone skill.

The thing that is so hard to get is when making the link and annotation, and you have no idea if you'll ever look at it again and if you do, will it be meaningful? Even knowing this, you must go on and do your best. When you start coming across these link/annotation combos and feel the energy from the preparation they give, you'll look at your old plain links and wonder.

I'm not the best example of my own advice. Time has an opportunity cost associated with it, and I too often skip annotating a link.

Wow, there sure are a lot of insights to unpack there!

I can relate to the "opportunity cost" thing especially when the future usefulness of the note is unknown. But then again, maybe the fact that we've put them in a structure already solves much of that "context" problem.

But at the very least, I think that links from one atomic note to the other should always have that annotation.

P.S. Sorry to have hijacked your thread, @Will! 😂 Anyway, I used your two window workflow today in creating a draft for my thesis proposal. Just last week I was struggling to even create a coherent draft. Now after an hour of working (from scratch) I'm finding myself needing to remove the excess 😂

• @improveism said:
Oh, that got me thinking: Maybe it's really optional to have such distinctions? I felt like it was necessary when I started it but when I thought about it, the signifier could easily be the same for structure notes from a literature, a concept, or even an outline for a middle level structure note:

20210507164404 • The Book of Books —> so this one's a structure note that comes from a processed material
20210507164410 • Skill Learning —> and this one's a structure note for a concept

As long as you can "make the structure notes float in your archive" and make them accessible, perhaps using signifiers doesn't matter a lot? What do you think of this?

Having fewer note distinctions lessens cognitive overhead. One that signifies notes with a deep and rich source of interconnectedness like structure notes is probably a good idea. This makes them easy to zero in on in a note list.

I used your two window workflow today in creating a draft for my thesis proposal. Just last week I was struggling to even create a coherent draft. Now after an hour of working (from scratch) I'm finding myself needing to remove the excess 😂

Thanks.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• @improveism said:
As long as you can "make the structure notes float in your archive" and make them accessible, perhaps using signifiers doesn't matter a lot? What do you think of this?

You're on a good track with this discovery! That's more or less what we found, too.

I removed categories over the years because they didn't add any benefit. In the early days, I assumed it'd be important to see at a glance if a note was inspired by a primary source, secondary source, or an "original" idea from myself. But to work with the stuff, the kind of note doesn't matter. The content matters, the ideas, the knowledge. -- E.g. if you cite properly, it'll be clear which part is your machination and which is someone else's, and so you can focus on the content, the real "atom".

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

• A side note - it's great to find a corner of the internet that, on the whole, is extremely positive. @Will, your video was great and it mirrors what I love about Scrivener. Two window workflow for the win.

I couldn't help noticing in your video that you had a note titled blogging workflow. If you're open to sharing, I'd be keen to see how you've set yours up.

• @jameslongley said:
Two window workflow for the win.

Yes! I use this workflow quite a lot with different apps. Among other examples, when coding I put a terminal (iTerm2) in the right and The archive on the left. I can drag and drop code snippets back and forth.

I couldn't help noticing in your video that you had a note titled blogging workflow. If you're open to sharing, I'd be keen to see how you've set yours up.

I couldn't find a note with the title "blogging workflow". But I think this is the note you saw in the note list. Not what you expected, I'm sure. I don't have a well-thought-out workflow around blogging.

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com