The simplest way to use Zettelkasten for note management
Everywhere I look, I find complicated Zettelkasten workflows that require a multi-step setup process. On top of the setup, notes must be regularly reviewed and categorized. For some, this workflow may be a godsend, but for most, it’s overkill. I’m here to unveil my method of using Zettelkasten. It may be unconventional, so beware.
# Zettelkasten Concepts
Zettelkasten can be distilled into two principles: take atomic notes and make connections. What this means is to take notes that are limited to a specific topic and make connections between these topics. Without these two principles, there is no Zettelkasten. So it’s super important to fully understand this!
In my workflow, there are two types of notes:
- Fleeting Notes: Notes that aren’t specific to a topic
- Atomic Notes: Notes that are specific to a topic
Fleeting Notes are similar to any note we normally take. They can be random thoughts in our brains or quick notes from a meeting. What’s important to understand is that Fleeting Notes are not atomic notes. Atomic Notes are specific to one topic and what makes them powerful is that they’re interoperable. One pitfall many fall into when creating atomic notes is that they create groups and not connections.
# The simplest workflow
Now that we understand the basic concepts let’s get into my workflow! So what I do is I take fleeting notes like I normally do and add connections to atomic notes if I want the note to potentially resurface in the future. Finally, if I have the time and energy, I will traverse into the atomic note and expand on the topic. And that’s it! I know some of you like lists so I’ll make one below:
- Take fleeting notes like I normally do
- If I feel it’s important, add links to atomic notes
- If I have the time and energy, expand upon my atomic note.
No regular review, no complicated setup procedure, and no need for categorization. This is a simple yet powerful way to take notes. If you’re interested to see an example, check out my Zettelkasten examples blog post.
# What note-taking app?
I love Obsidian and it’s my note-taking application of choice, but it isn’t great for taking quick notes. This is why I created Fleeting Notes a scratchpad for taking quick and connected notes. With this app, I can seamlessly create new notes and build/traverse connections.