# Notes useful in the short term

Hi All

Still starting with Zettelkasten and as many people on this forum, not always sure what to put where.
I hope I get the idea that zettlels are written for my future self and for helping the trains of thoughts, even with just over a dozen of thoughts I can already see how the need to jot things in the atomic yet autonomous way helps my thinking.

And then this particular type of notes: status notes

For example, I am studying the applicability of this and that kind of error correction to the different kind of statistical testing and listing some sub-topics to study. Quite often these are dynamic: for example I am studying Šidak correction and stumble into that unlike Bonferroni correction it needs tests independence. I don't want to get distracted to it right away, throwing it into GTD inbox would anyway move it to a project lists.. so do you keep such task lists in the Zettelkasten? They are very useful short term, but long term - very not sure, that's just the current status of what is still to be studied about the topic.

Another example is keeping a record on how much I owe to my little brother and other people (I live out of my home country, so quite often we "transfer" money to relatives by just borrowing from each other). This sort of notes is extremely useful (would be a shame to forget how much I owe), but only when kept up to date and.. can it really contribute to the trains of thought about anything?

What do you, ladies and gentlemen, do with this kind of status-like notes? Keeping them in Zettelkasten? In Zettlekasten-related reference database with short zettels explaining why/what in these notes? In some separate place?

• The principles I hold myself to are "use the right tool for the job", "encode no obligations in the Zettelkasten" and "don't worry about throwing extra stuff in the Zettelkasten":
• If data has a schema, use a database or spreadsheet.
• If I begin to feel guilt about a growing todo list or data maintenance, it must leave the box before the guilt introduces friction to our conversations.
• However, there's no shame in a bunch of things in the ZK going unused; if they prove useless for my thinking, I won't trip over them. I'll just use what's useful instead.

Now, the tl for you to dr:

If I have a clear understanding about the shape of the data and its uses, I put it in a place that forces me to use that shape. For example, for workout logging, I use the Strong phone app, which enforces logging format, gives me a canonical exercise list, and so forth. If there's no great app, I build a spreadsheet in Notion or Google Sheets as appropriate.

To me, this is the shape of your financial transaction data. Perhaps there is an intermediate step for fast capture before review, but that is the world of GTD and BuJo, and not of ZK as a thinking tool. (Notably there's nothing preventing you from using the same app for both capture and ZKing, but I keep them separate to avoid putting "commitments to process" anywhere near my slip-box.)

To your point about GTD and "todo"s, it's useful to have an "inbox" for research and writing. And as a GTD corollary, it's also important to have a review or revisiting mechanism. To me, the "inbox"/review pairing is where the money is. The trick is identifying the nature of the inboxes, and sensible review mechanics for each of them.

For a writing/research "inbox" I have a few approaches that are in flux for me. I recommend reading Andy Matuschak on research inboxes and writing inboxes.

If you'll indulge my description of my setup: I ought to commit to one approach but I have higher priorities for now than the necessary experimentation. At their core they are "maintain thread-to-pull list", "use spaced-repetition techniques", and "assume good prompts will resurface". The implementations are:

1. I maintain a few tagging-based "lists" of threads-to-pull. In Obsidian (sorry; I'm on Windows 😬) you can group tags in a folder-like structure, so these are #lists/inboxand #lists/reading-list. I will occasionally skim lines and files with these tags to see if inspiration strikes.
2. I also use a tool called Obsidian_to_Anki (which I think you could use with the Python script regardless of what tool you build a ZK in) to create a sort of fancy "Leitner box" of writing/research prompts. So if I write a note that implies some obvious next steps, at the bottom I configure an Anki card for my writing/research inbox. When one comes up, I can either write on it and say "show me again soon!", or can "snooze" it for later if it's not helpful or interesting. If I hit snooze over and over, it prompts me less and less frequently.
3. The spaced-repetition approach is interesting in that it attempts to optimize attempts to revisit -- it guarantees things will bubble back up, and provides a means to say "show me more/less frequently". However the truly organic version of this is to simply allow yourself to find your "todos" through use of the notes. As you work in and converse with the slip-box, ideas will come back up if they're useful lines of inquiry, and won't come back up if they're useless.

Obviously I have no clean answer. The tagging approach is dangerously close to a guilt-inducing todo list. The Anki approach is neat but it might be more "cute" than useful. Or perhaps it'll be genuinely helpful once I scale to thousands of notes. I read the idea from Andy Matuschak so he would be the expert to look to for this line of thinking. I am tempted to move to a single-tool sort of approach, using tags as a true Leitner box, but there is appeal to simply creating the cards and allowing Anki to sequence them for me.

I know this has been a ramble; I hope it speaks to your question in some way. I'm curious to hear what others have to say.

• I don't use an inbox for my GTD-esque system. I file the task right away at the correct location.
• Contextual information for tasks go into my GTD.
• I think your first example would go into my ZK, the second into my .org.

I am a Zettler

• Thank you, guys, it helps.

• @jim What you are describing here is essentially implementing incremental reading into your system. I am also interested in finding ways to add prioritization and incremental reading using Obsidian, having previously used SuperMemo and being well aware of the power of incremental reading and interleaving.

I take it from your description that you are using this aspect of Anki to simply prompt you to read and take notes in Obsidian and leveraging the skip function in Anki to implement a pseudo-prioritization mechanism based on your current view of the importance of a source?

If so, how is that different from periodically reviewing an outline list of potential sources and shuffling the priority order by manipulating the bullet placement in the outline?

• @davecan said:

I take it from your description that you are using this aspect of Anki to simply prompt you to read and take notes in Obsidian and leveraging the skip function in Anki to implement a pseudo-prioritization mechanism based on your current view of the importance of a source?

You slightly misunderstand me, though not by much.

• First: relatively few of these prompts require going back to a source. They are triggers not to re-read external texts, but to do new synthesis in the corpus of notes. I'm speaking from my gut and not analysis but I'd say most of them are shaped like "I know this aspect of psychology relates closely to an idea from dog training, and I want to think-by-writing about this someday, but not today". Others are less about threads-to-pull, and more about unresolved mental tension I want to ruminate on. "Do I really believe this?". Many of my notes relate to my own mental health, so in these cases especially, rumination is essential.
• Second: I don't use the "skip" function in the way you describe -- to keep a note "in progress" -- though perhaps I should. Sometimes notes do make their way back to "in progress" from this review (in which case I tag them as such). More commonly I have lighter "edit, explore, spawn, and link" interactions with resurfaced note.

If so, how is that different from periodically reviewing an outline list of potential sources and shuffling the priority order by manipulating the bullet placement in the outline?

Using Anki cards I can resurface a note after 6 months, then 2 years, then 5. Managing a prioritized list doesn't allow for good forgetting.