Call Me Ishmael – Introducing Sascha

Call me Ishmael.1

This is my first post on Zettelkasten.de, and which quote would be more appropriate to introduce myself? My real name is Sascha Fast by the way.

Photo Credit: t3rmin4t0r via Compfight cc

About me

I am, first and foremost, a practicing philosopher. That means that I try to put everything I believe into practice.

This means in essence that I am on my mission to become the strongest version of myself.2

I work as a personal trainer and nutrition consultant to make a living and I study philosophy and history. But I try to slowly transit into living off of my writing.

How I fell in love with the Zettelkasten method

When I started my studies I knew that I will be some sort of knowledge worker. I realized very soon that I’d need tools to deal with all the in- and output of information and knowledge.

I dug deep into the history of science practice and was surprised that the Zettelkasten was a widespread tool until we reached the digital age.

I interviewed 20 professors how they organized their reading material and their knowledge and was shocked by their response. If they organized it at all, would have been the appropriate question. Most of them weren’t even interested in my research. We fell into the trap that digital availability is enough to organize our knowledge. This is at least my point of view.

So I started my mission to find my personal Zettelkasten. I used dedicated note taking software, I tried blogs and wikis locally on my computer and much more, until I found a comfortable system.

During this mission I found Christian and we became best friends (bromance incoming). What an incidence that he also did research on Zettelkasten and knowledge organization. He came from another direction, though. He is a programer, so he did his research from a technical point of view.

We bounced ideas off each other until we reached the point we are at now. It is a lean system that can be realized in any software, although we both prefer nvALT (for Mac).

Strict organization to free the creative potential

I believe in the power of organization to give creativity room to breathe. In most areas in my life I try to prepare a lot to minimize the need to worry about stuff. I reduce complexity to unfold complexity.

For example: In my training I set up every repetition and weight in advance, so I don’t have to decide anything during my training session. During my training I have room to concentrate on the movement exclusively and get most out of the effort and the experience.

The same holds true for my writing. I have certain times when I write and have a set a word count goal. This is the frame I operate with. Inside this frame I can unfold my creativity, because I have to worry about less stuff, like reaching a vague minimum productivity. At least I unfold it more than before my routine.

My core belief is that productivity and self organization are purposed to shove stuff away that gets between you and what you actually want to do. I don’t want to allocate time to write. I don’t even want to write. I want to express myself as I am. And training, writing, meditation and everything else are my vehicles.


My pursuit of productivity is to develop a tool kit that consists of

  • habits,
  • techniques of habit building, and
  • a system that tells me what to do and when to do it.

In other words: My way of productivity is directed towards action and away from plans and decisions.

I started to develop the Zettelkasten Method to deal with all the input from philosophy and history. I believe that a good philosopher should be a jack of all traits. So I tried to get not only as much input as I could, but also diversified the kinds of input. The Zettelkasten had the purpose of dealing with all this input and make it available when I need it.

Since I met Christian, the Zettelkasten got leaner and faster. In the meantime, a whole new style of content production and self organization sprouted, all out of the innocent ambition to have a container for my notes.

We start this blog together to share and research the most efficient way to organize knowledge and harness the Zettelkasten to a content production machinery.

What you can expect from me

What can you expect from me?, or in other words: What kind of blogpost will I write?

  • Key habits in content production and knowledge organization.
  • How to set up a system that is so lean that you can continue to develop it any time in any direction you need.
  • How to maximize content production rather than get stuck in the set up of content production.
  • How an idea enters your life, is transformed by your system of knowledge, and finds is destiny as content you produce.

I am very happy for suggestions what to write. I don’t have any shortcomings of ideas, but I like to interact and to discuss every aspect of my and your work. Feel free to contact me with anything you have.

E-mail: Saschafast [at] gmail [dot] com
Homepage: http://saschafast.de

– Next week: Christian’s journey to the Zettelkasten method.

  1. Melville, Herman: Moby Dick (1851) 

  2. This is the famous phrase of Elliot Hulse.