Can Zettelkasten be used for project management?
I have recently discovered Zettelkasten in my search for an information management tool. I have used TiddlyWiki and TheBrain before, and I'm a great fan of the idea of interconnected "atomic" thoughts. I'm trying to adapt this system to my work. Unfortunately, it is far from academic literature research which seems to be the classic application of Zettelkasten.
I manage reliability test of semiconductor products. I deal with a lot of interconnected information for product reference and project tracking. For example, a product is made using a certain technology and may have several part numbers using different package types. The same package types or technologies can be used for other products. Qualification includes several reliability tests, each done on several lots. Each lot/test is associated with test data. Lots are shipped between the test lab and test supplier. Each shipment may contain samples from several lots. There is also test hardware, test conditions associated with each test, not to mention meeting notes and action items associated with different people. All emphasized words can be represented with Zettel linked with each other.
My primary source of information is email. How do you reference emails in your system? I've read Will's post 3 Quick Ways to Create a Markdown Link from Mail, Safari, and Finder — Zettelkasten Forum but I'm locked into using Windows and Outlook for work.
I read that people create ~800 notes per year (2-3 per day). In my use case, if I atomize all events and pieces of data, I may create tens of notes per day.
The relevance of information changes with time. Some details may become unimportant, but I may still need them (e.g. dates and lot numbers) to write reports. Other information (e.g. technology details) may be used for other projects, so it's hard to say how "permanent" the notes should be. In your experience, is ZK a good tool for keeping a log of events considering that the events may be relevant to projects, lots, and other information in ZK?
Is anyone in this forum using Zettelkasten in a similar context? If so, I'm very interested to hear the use case and suggestions for the organization and workflow. Thank you for the insights.
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I don't think I have the knowledge necessary to be of much help here, but let me ask you this: Have you checked out all of the posts from the blog? There might be an answer for you somewhere in there.
Otherwise, the Zettelkasten works for pretty much anything. For example, I learned a bit about a fighting game some months ago. Some of my Zettels describe combos, techs, how-tos, and so on.
Most of these Zettels lack connections. Also, I can do without some of them if I just practice the ideas. For example, a combo. However, making Zettels on this allows me to: 1) Think about the mechanics more in depth and 2) connect to other related mechanics. Thus, the Zettels aren't entirely useless.
As an example, I have a Zettel on a combo for a character called Peacock:
One of my comments in the Zettel is this: You can replace
5MP 2MK 2HP 236MP 236PPby
5MP 2MK 2HP 236LP 236KKthen DHC into Hatred Install for... EXPLOSIVE DAMAGE[Insert link].
I found a relevant discussion here reference management for project notes? — Zettelkasten Forum. If there are other places, I'd appreciate if someone directs me there.
I may also need to read the Ahrens' book - this question is likely not original. I just see a lot of information on how to use ZK for research, but not much on specific techniques for project information management.
Some people recommend to avoid "polluting" ZK with TODO lists. I think, more generally, it's a matter of the scope of relevance of the notes. In my case, notes on product technology is relevant across multiple product qualification projects. Notes on test or failure analysis methodologies may be relevant for me throughout my career. Notes on shipment dates and tracking numbers are only relevant until the package is delivered. Notes that lose relevance need to be deleted or archived.
I'm interested to learn how people approach this issue.
I'm fairly new to Zettlelkasten, but have been doing project management and list management for a long time in a few different contexts, including tech. That said, although there are lots of aspects of Zettlekasten that overlap with good task management (and by good, I mean simple; because complicated task management usually suggests more of a fascination with methods than outcomes), they are not the same thing. I use Obsidian (with a Getting Things Done approach to task management), which offers more flexibility in cross-method workflow (including community plug-ins, if that's your thing; it isn't my thing) than does The Archive (to my inexperienced eye), which seems more focused on a purer Zettlekasten workflow. However, I'm sure The Archive can be hacked to your purposes just as can Obsidian. For example, both systems should allow you to turn your email into an object (say, a PDF file), store those objects in some kind of Object location, and link to that object, as necessary, in a note that can be used for all other note-like purposes (tagging, searching, cross-linking, etc.). Hope this helps.
I'm using it for analyzing economic data on a variety of subjects, some of it decades old and some from live feeds. From a helicopter view my situation resembles yours: I have several types of data, variable reliability, sometimes contradictory, on several partially overlapping topics.
Don't overdo the connections (tags, hyperlinks, whatever). Create only relevant ones. The idea of a good info-management (like any model creation) is to determine important data, not to trace everything.
Have some note ("table of contents", "structural note") where you'll dump irrelevant info that still has a chance to get useful in some undetermined future.
Kinda like that:
Then I quote all the relevant info.
@kmkwagner, I also use Obsidian. I'm also a fan of using the simplest tool for the job. I'm not averse to plugins and extensions as long as they are useful and simple. I'm looking into Zettelkasten because my project information is very interlinked, and I can benefit from reusing atomic notes. I'm discovering a lot of good things exploring it. Emails can be saved as .eml files. This is simpler than PDF, but still too cumbersome. Thanks for the insight.
This is a very good advice. I read this article The Collector’s Fallacy • Zettelkasten Method talking about collecting irrelevant information, and it occurred to me that it also applies to links. Not all links add value, and it's totally possible to over-link your notes so that the links lose meaning. I also created a rule to myself to link to the most specific relevant note. E.g. if you have a note about lions, a note about felines, and a note about mammals - link lions to felines, not to mammals, especially not to both. There are many articles about filtering irrelevant information, but I have not seen much written on how to make relevant links. Obsidian has a nice feature - it shows "Unlinked mentions" in the text, that is, text that matches the name of an existing note. It allows to see mentions without creating explicit links.
That's what I would do in a paper notebook. The email can be searched by the sender and the date. Good advice as well.
I'd highly recommend reading as many posts as you can from here, other posts from the blog, and other resources. I say so because I'm pretty sure you can find an answer to your question that way. I have found my own like this.
For example, you mention the lack of stuff on making good links. Well, there's this. From this, you can figure out that annotated links set in stone a connection and allow you to find the connection or inspiration. It's always explicit, even if that doesn't seem to be the case. A structure note listing Zettels on definitions needs nothing more than a list of the terms followed by links. Because you know already why you're linking to the Zettels: They're definitions. Also, they need to be explicit or else you're not telling your future self why look at them. And following them wastes your time, just like surfing the Internet.
From this, there's no reason to make connections between lions, felines, and mammals. Maybe you could link from the Zettel on mammals to those on lions and felines. Then, state that the latter are a subgroup of mammals.
Doing this digging is what led me to understand what some people in this forum refer to knowledge, which I call scyketh: https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/14203#Comment_14203 Look at what's below "How do you decide what is important?"