Zettelkasten Forum


Zettel Staging Area / Projects / Workflows

Hi,

First of I wanted to say Thank You for creating and aggregating all this fantastic material! I'm new to ZK and have experimented with a variety of different approaches (digital and paper) over the last years and am trying out ZK for one of my projects.

I've been reading the Blog and Forum very heavily and have so far read half of "How to Take Smart Notes" (Die Zettelkastenmethode is still in the mail) and think I understand the general ideas and what a ZK archive should eventually look like quite well.

What I'm struggling with is how to deal with some of the intermediate steps of a learning project (and the workflow/organization). There are several great posts about how to deal with books (using paper notes for the intermediate notes before the final Zettels are created) but I couldn't find anything for how to approach a more general online discovery/learning project.

First a simple example: Say I'm reading one long & challenging article: I usually take notes, then review these notes and start aggregating knowledge, and then I assume I would start adding pieces to my Archive. But where do the temporary notes go?

A more complex example: I'm trying to learn the ZK method and as as a part of that I'll have to read many articles and posts, collect pieces from all of them, and then slowly aggregate some of the important parts into Zettels. This will likely involve both intermediate notes, lists of more things to read, etc. Eventually I'll likely want to discard everything but the actual Zettels.

One approach I was thinking of is having a "Project Folder" for this and I see some references to that here https://zettelkasten.de/posts/preparing-project-justice-hedgehogs/ but my understanding so far is that this is generally frowned upon in favor of the "everything in one place approach?"

I assume a lot of this depends on one's chosen tools but I would really appreciate any points that you may have.

Thank you!

Comments

  • As a follow up: My current plan is to keep things in a separate tool and only transfer them in once I am ready to create Zettels. So if I’m reading a long article I’ll put notes into Ulysses (my current tool of choice) and then process those into the Archive and delete the source notes and if I’m doing something more involved I’ll create a Ulysses folder, add everything intermediate in there, then create Zettels, and delete the folder once I’m done. Obviously the same would work with a different tool.

  • edited December 2019

    I'll venture forth. Probably too much info. Oh well.

    For "more general online discovery/learning projects," these take the same form as books, and the source materials are different sometimes, sometimes not. Sometimes source materials for online projects include web pages, PDF's, journal articles, references to books, charts, graphs, photos, and the list could go on. Now let's list the source materials encountered when reading books, web pages, PDF's, journal articles, references to other books, charts, graphs, photos, and the list could go on. You get the idea, and there isn't much difference in the source materials nor in how you might handle them. If learning about Zettelkasten is considered an "online discovery/learning project," then when encountering a nugget of knowledge, it is zetttelized (a word first coined somewhere). Sometimes a summary note is helpful if one remembers to start one, but sometimes not. In which case, the notes are interlinked and tagged as a group.

    Sample of my early feeble attempt at a summary note.

    @cansar said:
    First a simple example: Say I'm reading one long & challenging article: I usually take notes, then review these notes and start aggregating knowledge, and then I assume I would start adding pieces to my Archive. But where do the temporary notes go?

    A more complex example: I'm trying to learn the ZK method and as as a part of that I'll have to read many articles and posts, collect pieces from all of them, and then slowly aggregate some of the important parts into Zettels. This will likely involve both intermediate notes, lists of more things to read, etc. Eventually I'll likely want to discard everything but the actual Zettels.

    Don't focus on the tools. Focus on getting stuff into your zettelkasten. "Temporary notes" can be temporarily on/in anything.

    1. Margins of a printout or book chapter
    2. Ulysses
    3. 3X5 cards
    4. EMACS
    5. Evernote
    6. Word
    7. Scraps of handy paper
    8. A journal
    9. Add directly into The Archive as a note. This note may be final or thought finished, or it could be rough. Time will tell if it gets interconnected on further massaged.

    It is essential not to limit yourself by have too strict a definition of what is the 'perfect' note.
    My archive is not precious; my archive is precious TO ME.

    One approach I was thinking of is having a "Project Folder" for this and I see some references to that here https://zettelkasten.de/posts/preparing-project-justice-hedgehogs/ but my understanding so far is that this is generally frowned upon in favor of the "everything in one place approach?"

    I thought this a first, too. Can't we have different folders or have a quick way to "Switch Archives"? It turns out you can create separate archives and use the menu option to switch. I tried this and quickly abandoned this as crosslinking became unmanageable. What I found is the best is to use tags for projects and "Saves Searches" I can quickly see a project, yet all the notes are available for crosslinking with other notes, not particular to the project. This type of discovery is like finding a nugget of gold in a haystack and is super gratifying.

    How I find and work on my current project "Lojong - Mind Training" commentary on a 12 century Tibetan text.

    The note list shows only those notes in this project.

    Post edited by Will on

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • Thank you for your response, this was very helpful!

    Your comment made me realize that I should create Zettels much earlier in the process. I had spend about 10 hours reading, highlighting, and aggregating rough notes before actually creating the first Zettel. Obviously part of it is just because it's the very first one (even though I'd read the whole "just get started and don't overthink your first Zettel" post) but I think I was being too much of a perfectionist.

    For the second part I think you're absolutely right but it's also that this part is a bit outside of the core method and really depends on one's individual workflow. E.g. I almost always highlight articles as I read, and then if I find them interesting I do similar processing to what's described in Create Zettel from Reading Notes and therefore need a tool for this but somebody with a different process may not or may need a different tool.

  • @cansar said:
    For the second part I think you're absolutely right but it's also that this part is a bit outside of the core method and really depends on one's individual workflow. E.g. I almost always highlight articles as I read, and then if I find them interesting I do similar processing to what's described in Create Zettel from Reading Notes and therefore need a tool for this but somebody with a different process may not or may need a different tool.

    Yes, it all depends on one's individual workflow. Mine is not even optimal for me. I hope I can remain open to suggestions and change and continue to grow. For sure a productive workflow is a moving target, sometimes on target sometimes not. I don't worry.

    I admit my own confusion and naivete. The tools I use are highlights (either pen or in the kindle), marginalia, free form paper notes. These paper notes are taken on whatever is handy. I try to keep my pocket journal handy at all times and use it both for journaling on the go for capturing knowledge atoms as they randomly bombard. Mobile note-taking is sometimes a sticky wicket, especially while driving.

    I tried an audio recorder and a dictaphone recorder but never could get in the habit of using them. Listening to audiobooks and podcasts while driving was really a problem for note capture. Fortunately, I don't have a 1.5-hour daily commute anymore. But I still have this problem. I've changed my driving/listening habits and now don't listen to podcasts while driving and only listen to fiction audiobooks while driving so there is much less note-taking.

    My pocket journal is my solution for note-taking while listening to podcasts which I do during my workouts at the gym. Listening to podcasts is my reward for working out and because I have so many podcasts to listen to, it forces me to go to the gym 5 days a week. Win-win. When the universe blesses me with a particle of knowledge, I'll just stop my workout and sit or stand and quickly jot the nugget in my journal and then continue on.

    Here a photo of a note from a podcast featuring Michael Pollan taken at the gym and a couple of others from readings. Scott Slovic (2008): Going away to think and Reginald Horace Blyth (1952): Haiku

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @cansar said:
    Your comment made me realize that I should create Zettels much earlier in the process. I had spend about 10 hours reading, highlighting, and aggregating rough notes before actually creating the first Zettel. Obviously part of it is just because it's the very first one (even though I'd read the whole "just get started and don't overthink your first Zettel" post) but I think I was being too much of a perfectionist.

    This is a great thread! I just wanted to pop in and comment on the above. You said "should" and that's relative and too constrained for me. My perspective is, I do both. I started out making zettel's in The Archive as I went. But noticed the larger the item I was digesting, say a book, the more difficult it was to connect the notes. Yes, it eventually happens and of course the beauty is in how those notes are connected later. Yet, I have found great benefit to keeping those individual notes on cards, in my journal, or in the margin of the book. Then bringing them all together and grouping by pile, then making a summary note. I usually end up taking some to individual notes and all of them compiled into a more precise and "in my own words" summary note.

    Point is, play with both, you may find certain circumstances will apply to both.

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