Zettelkasten Forum

Another quarantined lurker emerges…

Hi! 👋

Longtime lurker… I've been interested in being diligent about note taking since college. I experimented with many home-brew'd methods, mostly in the wiki-style. I started with google docs, then used NValt/Simplenote, bullet journaling, then vimwiki for a good stretch. Each system included increasing amounts of automation as I became more interested in smoothly sailing through links, books, and thoughts and capturing them easily in my wake.

About one year ago I started reading about Zettelkasten and I'm super fascinated. As a software developer, the power of smaller interlinked files makes a lot of sense.

I want to invest in this for intentional long-term study… topics of interest, growth in my role as a User Experience Designer, and personal growth.

I'm currently in the middle of implementing a lil' baby zettelkasten (it's so cute!) in plain-text files on Dropbox. I've written some tooling for Drafts.app to make capture easier, currently working with some others on a tool to search my zettelkasten from the command line, starting to work on a minimal vim plugin.

While I recognize that this whole world is super personalized to each person, I kind of think there could be a markdown based standard, similar to what Christian recommends in this post.

Anyway. Hello. Two questions for any experienced folk coming through here:

Do y'all start multiple zettelkastens for multiple projects, or do you allow all the thoughts to slosh around together?

Do you put everything in the Zettelkasten? I keep extensive notes on random stuff… meetings, things I learn about my home, gifts I want to buy my family… do you reserve the zettelkasten for lofty thoughts, or do you use the same structure to log all the other things too?


  • Welcome, and thanks for sharing the links to your interesting approaches!

    Since you mention building search tools and your posts show a lot of mobile screenshots: If I used mobile more, I'd probably start with a SQLite database and use FTS indexing on an iCloud drive folder or Dropbox or whatever, to implement a fairly quick search. (It's still slower than strstr(3), but also allows for more complex searches.) With the lack of powerful shell tools that smz for desktop can rely on, I think that's a solid foundation.

    I experimented with different project Zettelkästen (pl.) in the early days, and I remember how awkward it felt to put personal reflection into the same note archive as literature notes. But in the end, one archive for everything was just a much better experience. I don't manage my tasks there, though. In the GTD workflow terminology, my Zettelkasten is (part of) a reference storage, not a project management tool. So a running list of ideas for gifts and presents is stowed away in my emacs private.org file.

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

  • Thanks @ctietze for the kind words.

    I've been focused on mobile capture for a bit, but necessarily mobile browsing… (perhaps a foolish assumption, but we'll see.)

    Most of my reading is done on a kindle, or while listening to audiobooks… even if I don't have my phone nearby and am note-taking on paper, every so I often have a phone nearby to dictate or jot down a note.

    As my mind chews on a problem, I'll often find myself making a connection or forming a thought while working on something else… doing the dishes, fixing something around the house. The phone is often the closest to hand.

    The mobile workflows I've been toying with have been focused on making that capture process easy, while maintaining high quality links and tags.

    For mobile browsing/searching… I'm currently cheating and using a combination of 1Writer and the iPhone Dropbox client for FTS. It's been fast enough so far.

    I think the main research/grooming process will be on desktop… but that fits my particular modalities of work. The main benefit of focusing on mobile capture first, is that my little web of notes is growing because it's easy to start recording little notes.

    Anyway. Thanks for saying hi, I appreciate all your championing of this interesting note-taking strategy… looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

  • Do y'all start multiple zettelkastens for multiple projects, or do you allow all the thoughts to slosh around together?

    No. One Zettelkasten. A good Zettelkasten self-scales itself to the project your are working on.

    Do you put everything in the Zettelkasten?

    Yes. Even personal reflections on my life.

    I am a Zettler

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