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Zettelkasten Learning Method: Simply Explained

February 13, 2020


hello my name is Shu. in this video I
want to talk about Zettelkasten method which is one of my favorite personal
knowledge management systems. Zettelkasten method is one of the most
effective knowledge management methods but it’s not known by many people the
word Zettelkasten means box of cards in German.
this method was developed by Niklas Luhmann, a German sociologist he may not
be super famous but what makes him stand out from the crowd is not just the fact
he was an exceptional scholar but also his writing efficiency. In 30 years he
published 58 books and hundreds of articles how did he manage to write so
much? It’s thanks to his unique knowledge management system — Zettelkasten Method.
It allowed him to build huge web of knowledge, retrieve the right memory
when needed, find meaningful connections among topics and develop his ideas
arguments and discussions efficiently the process of Zettelkasten is simple
all you need is small boxes, index cards and a pen Luhmann had two boxes one for
bibliographical notes with the reference details and brief notes about
content of the literature and the main box where he collected and created new
ideas and the insights. The first step is taking
literature notes. When you are reading a book or article always have a pen and
index card with you and when you find an information you don’t want to forget or
think you might use in your writing or thinking write it down in your index
card instead of highlighting or underlining. But you have to be careful
that it has to be brief to make it easy to review later and you have to write it
in your own words this means no copy and pasting. Writing in your own words may take a
while, but it forces you to really understand what they mean. The second step is taking
bibliographical notes whenever you finish reading something Luhmann wrote
down reference information on one side of an index card and a brief note
about content on the other side then he kept cards in the bibliographical box
with the literature notes. The third step probably the most important step is
making permanent notes go through each note you made in the previous step while
thinking about how they relate to what you are learning, your interest, thinking
or research. Your goal is not to collect as many notes as possible but to add new
values to your existing ideas argument and discussions. What’s important here is
finding meaningful connections between why you just learned and why you already
know. By doing so you build a web of knowledge. The more web of knowledge
you develop it’s easier it becomes to learn and retrieve the information from
your brain. This is because the more information means more hooks we can use
to connect a new information to and more connected to information also means more
cues we can use to trigger the right memory to find such connections
efficiently ask yourself how does this idea fit into what I know? can this be
explained by something else. what does X mean for Y. how can I use this idea to
explain something else? additionally it’s important to find keywords in your notes
to find connections among notes. But finding keyword is not about where to
store a note but about how to retrieve it. When deciding a keyword
many people ask which keyword is most fitting or which category does this note
fall into? Rather you should ask yourself in which circumstances would I want to
stumble upon this note even if I forget about it
or when and how we are use this idea? Keywords should always be assigned with an eye
towards topic you’re working on or interesting never by looking at a note
in isolation. After finding connections add your new permanent notes to the main box
by filling each one behind relevant notes adding links to relevant notes and
indexing in the way you can easily discover later. An extra step you might
need is taking fleeting notes they are temporarily holders or your ideas and
thoughts that pop into your mind like ideas you get while taking shower or walk
always keep a notebook or piece of paper with you so you can write anytime. you
should review your fleeting notes within a few days before you forget what you
meant and you can develop them into permanent notes if necessary after
repeating those steps for a while you will have developed a huge web of
knowledge now whenever you need to find a topic to write about, turn to your box
of cards and see the lines of the cards you developed. See what it’s missing see
what questions arise you can then read more and take notes to develop your
ideas and arguments farther when you are done with this process you will already
have a wealth of information in your hands
this means you don’t have to start from scratch when writing. All you have to do
now is to reassemble your notes into a logical order and translate them into
something coherent so this is a general workflow of Zettelkasten.
in the next video I’ll show you how to digitally implement this system using
Roam. thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next video bye!

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