How to Create Useful Links with Zettelkasten

The linking feature of Zettelkasten is one of its most defining features, yet, it’s the least understood. Linking ideas should be natural for us, but a lifetime of organization with the tree structure has made it difficult to adopt this new form of organization. To make links useful, we’ll need to unlearn our old habits. This is an entire paradigm shift, so don’t expect it to be easy.

# Don’t group things, connect them

The biggest mistake—and one I’ve made myself—is linking with categories. In other words, it’s adding links like we would with tags. When we link this way we’re more focused on grouping rather than connecting. As a result, we have notes that contain many connections with little to no relevance. Additionally, we add clutter to our links which makes it difficult to find useful links when adding links. That being said, there are times when we might want to group some things. In these cases, use tags or folders.

Bad Links: [[work]], [[notes]], [[school]], [[food]]

Great Links: [[notes are written to free space in the brain]] [[working to live or living to work depends on how meaningful someone finds their jobs]]

# Creating points of connection

We shouldn’t use links to group things together, but how do we create connections? Find the single idea behind what you’re writing and create an atomic link. These are powerful because they are interoperable. If you’re unsure how to do this, you’ll see examples of links scattered throughout this blog post. Feel free to click around and “follow the train of thought”.

Fleeting Notes is a lightweight note-taking application for capturing and connecting thoughts. I know that having more connections is better and the friction of writing notes in obsidian prevents me from creating more connections. With Fleeting Notes, I can easily create notes within my browser or phone and have them sync with Obsidian.