Zettelkasten Forum

Use a Short Knowledge Cycle to Keep Your Cool

imageUse a Short Knowledge Cycle to Keep Your Cool

The Zettelkasten note-taking method has made book writing and writing scientific papers easy for hundreds of years already.

Read the full story here


  • edited January 2018

    An enlightening piece! I discovered the very same principle the hard way, and I'm glad that I now have an elegant name for this principle, that I plan to follow religiously. And while I agree with everything you say, my own cycle is quite different. In fact, it's almost the opposite: I start by writing, always. A good day of work is when I start with a solid hour of free writing (I call this a Vuelapluma, a nice Spanish metaphor, or Inventio, a nod to the rhetorical tradition), in which I generally write around 1000 words. After that, I move on to write more shapely prose (a phase that I call Redacción or Compositio; it's also a kind of 1st Draft). After 2 o 3 hours of this, I move on to read and annotate, exclusively by hand. Moving from the computer to pen and paper seems to replenish my mental stamina in a way I wish I had learned before. At the end of the afternoon, I can go back to an Inventio phase provided I wield my fountain pen. I'm still amazed by the way our brains seem to function much better when you brake cognitive tasks into distinct phases, and move from tool to tool accordingly.

  • Writing first makes sense of course, especially when you have stuff on your mind already! The Knowledge Cycle I propose here kind of assumes that you are empty and have to be filled with information prior to starting to work. But when you fill yourself up with interesting things, don't stuff too much into your head at once. Digest, and produce.

    As a daily routine, spending the first hours of the day with a fresh mind to write is a great idea! In fact, I think cramming in stuff by other authors might influnce your writing for the better or worse. Reading a bit of a book first can help imitate the author's style. But then you cannot think the same things you would've thought if you hadn't read that piece :) (We didn't talk much about daily routines here on the blog, I notice.)

    Can you explain the metaphor behind "Vuelapluma" a bit more? That will surely produce better results than mere literal translations of parts of the word by Google :)

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

  • @Palinuro

    You are making a great point. To many focus on total digitalisation. There is clear evidence in the research on the brain that digital processing is exausting.

    Like you, I ensure that my workflow contains a fair bit of plain paper work. I wouldn't even entertain the thought of taking notes with a phone even when someone would pay me. :smile:

    I am a Zettler

  • Thank you for your insights, and your consideration of fatigue and energy. Very helpful.

  • Thank you for this great article.

    The process outlined is very specific and easy to follow. I like how it focuses on the Kanban-like short cycle time and reflection to further improve the process.

    This helps me a lot because now I not only know better how to bring processing more to the forefront, but also how to improve my knowledge process as a whole.

Sign In or Register to comment.