So you’re here for a starting point.
Using a Zettelkasten is about optimizing a workflow of learning and producing knowledge. The products are texts, mostly. The categories we deem fit currently are the following:
- Knowledge Management: general information about what it means to work and learn efficiently.
- Writing: posts on the production of lasting knowledge, and about sharing it with others through your own texts.
- Reading: posts about the process of acquisition of new things and the organization of sources.
We started to feature application reviews to see how well they fit the Zettelkasten workflow. You most likely want to pick a cool app for your work, so our tools page and the list of posts tagged “review” are good starting points.
There’s a lot of other software on the web you could experiment with, so don’t feel limited to our (growing) selection.
If you want to know more about us and how we roll, take a look at the “personal” tag.
- How many Zettelkästen should I have? The answer is, most likely, only one for the duration of your life. But there are exceptions to this rule.
- Don’t use categories. Use tags instead.
- “What should my first note be?” – it doesn’t matter. Just get started.
- Set links between notes. Search alone is not enough.
- “When should I start a new note?”
- You have to interpret your sources and then rely on your own thoughts henceforth to get the maximum benefit. Collecting information does not increase your knowledge.
- Use outlines to start with the first draft of your writing project.
- Then ease into writing by adding Zettel notes to the outline, pasting their contents in.
- The Collector’s Fallacy: you have to work with new material to really learn it. It doesn’t suffice to bookmark websites or just read and annotate books. (Christian still has skeletons in the closet.)
- Add Identity to things in the system to make references possible.
- About learning and knowing more in general
- A Zettelkasten improves your thinking and writing because it surprises us when we search for something.
- Learn faster: get coverage with good reading techniques, get practice by writing Zettel notes, and gain insights by connecting notes to your web of knowledge.
- A Zettelkasten extends your mind and memory because its structure mimics the way your brain works.
- You have to interpret your sources and then rely on your own thoughts henceforth to get the maximum benefit.
- The building blocks of a Zettelkasten are the inbox, the note archive, and the reference manager.
- Concerning picking software:
- You don’t need a wiki because every app which supports links in some way can be used.
- Make writing a part of your identity. This requires to schedule time for writing, and to create lasting habits.
- How to become a better writer:
- A daily writing practice will help lower the hurdle to get started, for example.
- How to track your writing progress – define metrics and find out how well you perform.
- Counting your words is motivating and helps you stick to the habit of writing daily.
- Christian also wrote a Mac app for this: the Word Counter.
- Getting started with writing projects
- Divide composing from editing your texts to reach a state of flow and get faster at finishing your projects.
- Publish iteratively.
- Create a bibliography as part of your toolkit. It’s a permanent companion and keeps track of your sources of information.
- Reading on paper
- Reading online
- How to read on the web efficiently, using and managing RSS feed subscriptions.