Zettelkasten

“The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity.” - Josh Waitzkin

Image by  Will Simpson

Image by Will Simpson

 What is Zettelkasten and how did I get here?

As a reader I am aware of the importance and difficulty of remembering and recalling what I’ve read. For the longest time, too long really, I’ve comforted myself with the notion from Ralph Waldo Emerson “I cannot remember the books I have read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” In a way this is true but I know I can do better. To that end I’ve been reading about reading (meta reading) and came across Sönke Ahrens book "How to Take Smart Notes” which introduced me to Niklas Luhmann and his method of taking notes while reading, from lectures, and spontaneous ideas.

Zettelkasten is Niklas Luhmann’s formalized method if formalized is the right term. He was a prolific writer from Germany and has a small army of followers, mostly German, who evangelize his methods. 

It has 4 parts:

  1. specific system

  2. card numbering rules

  3. internal linking

  4. comprehensive keyword index

The Zettelkasten system seems to organically create linkages between ideas captured from various different books and ideas as one works with the Zettelkasten over time. I’ve come to realize that this is what knowledge work is. 

If at all interested I can recommend Sönke Ahrens book "How to Take Smart Notes” and for a further explanation of the system and zettelkasten.de to connect with a community of practitioners with tools and suggestions and examples and youtube lessons. 

This has been a game changer for me so far.

Hope you have an awesome day!

This journal is meant as a reminder to my future self. A reminder to him to operate in the world with love and compassion and some tips put together in a moment of clarity to help him when he is less clear and caught up in stuff the he can’t control.  Continue the conversation anytime: will@kestrelcreek.com.