It's been 2 days since I started my zettelkasten, so time will tell if it's effective for my use case: improving the effectiveness of my learning.

One benefit I've already seen, though, is I'm more aware of some of the problems I've been facing in my learning efforts over the past few years.

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First lessons from zettelkasten 

One problem is difficulty elaborating on existing notes. When taking paper notes in notebooks on letter size paper, which is the method I've used to this point, it hasn't been clear how to elaborate on existing notes. If I want to add some clarification or an example to an existing note, I'm forced to rewrite at least a whole page to do so.

First lessons from zettelkasten 

Another problem is a difficulty building connections between my notes on different topics with a degree of overlap.

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First lessons from zettelkasten 

How can I have notes on different topics both refer to each other and grow over time? If I have a note on a calculus problem that relies on a rarely used algebraic trick, I should have that note refer to my algebra notes on that topic. I could use page or section numbers in my notes and refer from one to another that way. If so, how do I elaborate on an existing note that may be referenced elsewhere without renumbering pages/sections to keep references intact?

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First lessons from zettelkasten 

A third difficulty is managing a piece of information common to more than one topic. How do I choose where to put it in my notes? I could write the same note in my notes on multiple topics. But that creates the elaboration problem again. If I want to correct or elaborate on a redundant piece of information, I have to find and change all the different places.

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First lessons from zettelkasten 

Yes, I'm describing problems that specialized software or even HTML alone can address to some degree. For me, those introduce enough issues around management, portability, obsolescence,
friction to data entry, and general distraction that I haven't yet been compelled to move my primary note-taking from paper to an electronic method.

It's to be seen how well I'll solve these problems with a zettelkasten, but there's solace in seeing them more clearly than before.

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First lessons from zettelkasten 

@daremo I do all of my task management and daily note taking in a paper bullet journal. The zettelkasten is forcing me to review my notes each week, clean them up, and get them organized properly for future reference.

@sbanwart That's funny, because I recently moved to a bullet journal for all my event and task management. I previously used GTD, but wanted to try building on top of a minimal framework than working within an all-encompassing one.

@daremo Nice. I've been using a bullet journal for about a year now. Though my "system", for lack of a better term, is a Frankenstein mix of bujo, GTD, and lean/kanban.

First lessons from zettelkasten 

@daremo My understanding of the system is you create sub-notes for the elaboration. If you have a topic A, with ID 100000, when you want to add to it you create a new note A' with ID 100000a (or something similar) to keep them grouped together. Instead of rewriting, and the domino effect that comes with it, you treat the system as append-only.

First lessons from zettelkasten 

@sbanwart Yes, I'm describing problems I've been having with taking notes on letter paper in notebooks. Learning about zettelkasten has just made those problems clearer to me.

I think the zettelkasten principles of atomicity, autonomy, and linking purportedly solve all these problems. I'm still early on (about 40-50 zettel in) and am looking forward to seeing if that's true.

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