Zettelkasten Forum

Verzetteling *everything* I write?

I'm toying with the idea of starting all my writing, including not just higher-stakes projects like white papers or books, but also social media and discussion forum posts like this one, in my Zettelkasten. I may even include personal communications — after all, the ZK itself is strictly for my own private use anyway.

Since I do most of my writing on my Mac, I'd probably create a Keyboard Maestro palette that would snap alongside my Archive window and give me functions similar to Drafts in iOS. (Supposedly the developer is working on Drafts for macOS, but I don't want to wait.) Maybe also a "quick cursor" type macro so I could also quickly move things like e-mail and Slack replies into the ZK environment.

If Tiago Forte can publish his tweetstorms as an ebook, maybe I should also look for ways to extract value from my own more ephemeral scribblings.

Is anyone here doing anything along these lines?


  • You can't extract value that is not there. I too filter my (written) communication and eventually process them in my archive. But all is a bit too much for me. The criterion should lie in the information piece itself. It is not important where I write something important. In the end, good stuff should go in my archive.

    I am a Zettler

  • That's where the more iterative process of Zettelkastenpflege comes into play. You seem to disagree, but I still think it only becomes clear over time what's actually valuable and what's not. The value emerges over time when those zettels that draw renewed attention are refined and interlinked. I suppose there are things like reminders to pick up the dry cleaning that I can be pretty sure I'll never want to refer to again, but I have a feeling I've lost an awful lot of potentially repackageable sentences in social media, blog comments, etc. over the years.

  • I had done something like this. I was so impressed with Drafts and how it fit my mind's process that I wanted a similar thing for my MacBook. I used Keyboard Maestro, as you suggest.

    My workflow was that I'd

    1. Hit one of a collection of keyboard shortcuts, which brings up a dialog with the cursor in a text entry box (and at one point, a choice of destinations--see below)
    2. Enter text
    3. Hit either Enter or click Cancel to finish the job. If Enter, the text would be routed to the appropriate destination.

    The main difference from what you're thinking is that I was only sending my text to my own collection of files, not to social media or forums or anywhere else. I decided all my custom keyboard shortcuts would be SHIFT-CTRL-OPT-CMD-(key) in an attempt to avoid conflict with the system's or other apps' stock shortcuts. It was like learning a guitar chord's shape--slow and deliberate at first, but now my left hand goes immediately to it, and my right index makes the key choice.

    I had shortcuts for:

    • Formatting a Taskpaper to-do and sending it to the inbox section of either my Job.Taskpaper or my Personal.Taskpaper files
    • Appending to my Journal.txt (diary/log) file
    • Appending to my Inbox.txt file, which meant I just wanted to get it down and process it at the end of the day
    • Appending to my GeneralNotes.txt (which is now being split into pieces while I adopt Zettelkasten methods.)

    I used to use a single keyboard shortcut for the Journal, Inbox, and GeneralNotes files, with a dropdown in the dialog box to tell which file to append my text to, but I found that to be more inefficient in trying to tab to the dropdown, arrow to the correct selection, and then click Enter to finish. It just didn't work smoothly--the focus never moved along as I expected. Splitting those into different keyboard shortcuts worked better for me.

    I used this for a long time and was very pleased, but it's in flux right now as I'm using Omnifocus instead of Taskpaper for a little while (I'll always return to TP), and I'm thinking of how to deal with my Inbox and GeneralNotes workflows in light of my new understanding of Zettelkasten techniques.

  • Since Drafts has come to the Mac, I've realized it can operate as a universal "capture" phase in my slipbox system. I've begun to make this differentiation more distinct, using Drafts to capture ephemeral notes, work on ideas, journal, and so on.

    When I develop these into more defined takeaways, I move over to the slipbox. I have a set of custom Drafts actions for this, or I can do it manually.

    Setting it up this way has allowed me to make the distinction between ephemeral and long-term notes much stronger. I've moved a lot of edge-case notes out of the slipbox and into Drafts. Having a proper place for them to go has been key.

    I will continue to develop my system around this, but as of right now, this "two-phase system" seems to work pretty well. It gives me a capture and hold phase for everything I write, and still manages to keep that distinct from the slipbox itself.

Sign In or Register to comment.