Zettelkasten Forum

Hello I am Paulo from Croatia

Hi to all I have been following the forum and the blog for some time now, and as in multiple things in life growth is to be found inside of a community. Today I was reading about the Knowledge Cycle and taking notes and I thought to myself this forum and site is a real gold mine of people that are looking to improve the world, grow and share their knowledge.

I am a Engineering Manager, comming from a development background. And I am just addicted to learning, if anybody did a Gallup test I have Learner, Intellection and Input as the first three skills. I like to learn stuff, I like to think about stuff and I like to gorge on information, so as you may presume I am a big fan of the Collector Fallacy.

I remember when I got my first job as a web developer I learned more in 3 months than 3 years of college. Because I was immersed and mentored by a community aka my first company. Then why not become a part of this community that is obviously enthusiast to grow in knowledge, sharpening their own mental models and becoming generally awesome.

So about my Zettel, I tried starting before but I got stuck in WHAT IS THE BEST APP HELL. I spent about a month searching for the best app, thinking about what app would give me:

  1. Longevity
  2. Not being locked in behind a proprietry
  3. Having all the do-das that were needed

Apps that could kinda serve this purpose: Obsidian, The Archive, DevonThink ( I liked the ability to jump straight to PDF section, but then I learned of the Oportunity cost of re-reading (thanks @Sascha) and that notes that are not good enough by themself are questionable notes

After this month I just drifted away without actually doing anything. But one day I decided what the hell lets just fold the a4 paper in A5 then fold that one in A
7. And guess what I made my first IMPERFECT zettelkasten note, and I was hooked. I started to read the zettelkasten.de site, and I took notes (shortening that Knowledge cycle :wink: ). And here I am ready to interact and learn from the community. So for now for my mental peace I am sticking with analog. Later I may do some kind of digital hybrid backup. I am open to suggestions and argumentation.

Other interests:

  • Habit building (Stephen Guise books) but I have read a lot of them honestly
  • Nutrition (Any Cronometer fans here :wink: - )
  • Psychology (Starting Gestalt)
  • Spirituality
  • Management
  • Technology (software related but I don't shun embedeed)


  • Welcome Paolo!

    Did you do Guise's course? And what do those books stand out to you? Just asking... ;)

    After this month I just drifted away without actually doing anything. But one day I decided what the hell lets just fold the a4 paper in A5 then fold that one in A

    1. And guess what I made my first IMPERFECT zettelkasten note, and I was hooked.

    The drift most likely has little to do with software/lack of software, and more with clearness of the intent. A ZK is a tool. You need a GOOD task to have enough motivation to use your ZK.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited April 27

    Hei @Sascha, yes I have been following your journal about writing the book and I am excited to see what you can produce with synoptical reading and special accent for the scientific backing of the habit formation. I'm also curious if moving beyond the behaviorist and stimulus-response models, perhaps philosophy, particularly virtue ethics (as discussed in Alasdair MacIntyre's "After Virtue"—this might just be my philosophical education talking :wink:), could address this question. When your books are translated, I'll eagerly head to Amazon Germany to place my order.

    Hey, I didn't take the Guise course. Those courses tend to be quite expensive, similar to B.J. Fogg's. I've often found that a well-written book offers much more. Workshops, on the other hand, are different because they provide feedback, opportunities to work in groups, etc. In my opinion, those are genuinely useful.

    Note that these are key points; often, there is much more to the book than what is mentioned here:

    Stephen Guise

    1. Mini Habits
    The first book on habits I read truly transformed my life by instilling the daily reading habit. What makes it unique is its approach of not depending on a single cue to trigger a habit. Similar to how smoking is prompted by various cues, by breaking the habit into incredibly small steps, we create a rich environment that consistently prompts the habit.

    2. Elastic Habits
    This concept introduces Horizontal and Vertical habits, effectively bulletproofing habit formation. For instance, a Vertical cue might involve varying intensities of pushups: doing one is minimal, five is moderate, and eight is excellent for the day (adjusting as your ability improves). More intriguing is the Horizontal dimension, where habits slide depending on the goal, like cardiovascular fitness. Options might include taking a walk, swimming, or doing housework, depending on your mood. This flexibility is why they're termed elastic.

    3. The Magic of Momentum
    This book primarily explores the distinction between actual momentum and the perceived psychological kind. Real momentum is significantly more stable, and sustainable long-term momentum builds from short-term gains. Short-term momentum, which resets daily after sleep, can be initiated by accomplishing even a minor task early in the day. However, this momentum dissipates with sleep, making it crucial to cultivate daily momentum consistently.

    4. Mini habits for weight loss
    Ah yes, this topic is quite fascinating. If we set aside the often-ignored advice to avoid processed foods and focus on habit formation, the objective isn't about being a perfectionist. Instead, it's about eating when you're hungry and using small habits to modify your eating behavior.

    • Building habits by addition, not subtraction
    • Aligning subconscious desires with conscious actions, we achieve this by gradually changing our food choices. For instance, if I primarily consume unprocessed foods, I'll start to prefer them. For example, eating chips after having whole wheat bread with avocado and other nutritious items might make the chips seem overly salty and offensive to my senses. It's all about reshaping subconscious desires. Then, there are several specific mini habits like adding one healthy item to your plate, among other fitness strategies.
    • Then there's using CRAVING as an opportunity, where you leverage the craving to motivate continued changes in your subconscious preferences. For instance, if I crave chocolate, I'll do a pull-up and eat an apple first; afterwards, if I still want it, I can enjoy the chocolate guilt-free. The goal here is not to deny the chocolate but to use it as motivation to enhance your subconscious preference for exercise and healthy eating.

    B.J Fogg
    Tiny habits
    Here, apart from the model he proposes, there are some useful tools such as the swarm of habits, the chain of habit, and other valuable resources. A key point emphasized in the book is that the automaticity of habits relies more on EMOTION rather than repetition (for instance, ordering an Uber quickly becomes a habit because it feels like magic). It also introduces the concept of artificial celebration as a technique to more easily embed a habit. There is much more to this book, but since I used a tablet to write about this, the notes are lost.

    J. Clear:
    Atomic Habits
    A summary of the above books one thing that I appreciated is the identity-based habit-building model he suggests, although it’s not a completely new idea. His writing style is engaging.

    Charles Duhigg
    The Power of Habit
    Awareness of how much of our daily activities are governed by habits

    Steve Scott
    Habit stacking
    Giving name to the B.J fogs PAC(person action context) action way of habit anchoring.

    Jeremy Dean
    Making Habits, Breaking Habits
    You might find this intriguing due to its extensive use of scientific citations. I read it a while back and didn't take notes. One aspect I recall is something about creating action agreements—essentially, if this occurs, then I will do that.

    I partially agree with the notion of not being software. I feel that if I had a meaningful task, I would likely use any resource to accomplish it. Having learned to simulate having a task, I might even utilize this forum as a means to deliver valuable contributions to others.

    The paper zettel, though slower, offers a serene, incremental approach to productivity beyond merely researching the ideal tool for the task. If I later find that paper alone isn't sufficient, I might reconsider my position. However, transitioning to digital often overwhelms me and hampers my ability to accomplish any work.

    Additionally, I am utilizing this opportunity to learn about the Zettelkasten method; for instance, I haven't started assigning numbers to my notes yet. I don't have a lot of them maybe 25 000, just joking :joy: maybe 30 for now. Digitally I have a few GB's. I'll likely adopt a hybrid approach, using digital files stored in folders (such as PDFs and documents) alongside maintaining some materials in paper form.

    By the way, regarding the longevity issue, did you know that to indicate when nuclear waste will be safe, they use paper and special ink? This is because it's uncertain what technology will be available after 100+ years.

    Note the video timeline is 10:45 for the special paper part:

  • @PauloB Hi Paulo and welcome to the forum! Glad you found it and the strong community here.

    Your comment about Cronometer caught my eye, as I am using it to track my eating habits. I find it is most useful. I'm dealing with Type 2 diabetes through a combination of diet and intermittent fasting, so Cronometer is essential to ensure I'm not cheating.

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