ZettelKasten System

For a while now I’ve been finding my thoughts a little more frazzled, and less focused. This is perhaps a little bit to do with having so many projects in the air at the same time. Nonetheless, I want to spend a bit more time getting writing down my ideas and taking the time to digest things a bit more and organize them so that they are easier to review in the future.

ZettelKasten is a note taking system that is starting to become a trend. Like bullet journaling, it takes something that could be very free-form and adds a few loose rules to help wrangle your writing into something that is manageable and explorable in the future. The key concept I take from ZK is that notes can be small ideas that are linked to multple other ideas. The links between the ideas can add value and compound the insight you can get from the system.

This maps pretty well to a wiki, but whereas wikis require complicated web apps to run and link together web pages most people doing ZK are opting for much more minimalist applications.

I’m playing with Foam, a set of extensions on VSCode (an app I typically use all day anyway) that allows me to edit and preview Markdown files in a git repository. git provides a way for me to save my notes, and record changes to them, but also enables me to audit how often I’m keeping up with my goal of daily note taking. Forgetting to make notes has been the death of most of my habit building in the past.

My current workflow around notes is that early in the day, I get a notification nag until I have updated my notes. That first note of the day is typcially a todo list. I think about what I want to accomplish with my personal goals, and what I want to get done at work that day. That note stays open on my computer though the day and I’ll go back to check off things as I get them done.

If I think of things that I want to work on the next day, I’ll add a reminder at the bottom of todays note. Then the next day, I review the previous day note, and copy over any items that I still want to have on the todo list for a new day.

In addition to my daily todo list, I’m also using this collection of files to organize my business ideas, collect commands that I want to remember for future use, and write down things I learn about using new bits of technology I encounter. I’m hoping that it becomes a quick to reference extra brain and more valuable over time.