The Zettelkasten System Of Productivity - Deepstash

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This simple but powerful analog method will rocket your productivity

The Zettelkasten System Of Productivity

The Zettelkasten way or the ‘slip box’ method was pioneered by Niklas Luhmann, is an always-on, filing system that one can use to categorize and ‘slip’ any new insight or idea in a separate file or cabinet.

With this method, any new idea or insight now has a readymade home where it can be placed easily, with the growing collection facilitating new projects and cross-connections.

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Taking Smart Notes

When we take notes, it should not become a stack of forgotten thoughts. Our notes should be a rich and interconnected collection of ideas we can draw on regardless of where our interests lead us.

Luhmann's slip-box

German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998) designed his slip-box made up of index cards. They were thematically unlimited. His simple system produced a prolific output. Over his 30-year career,  Luhmann published 58 books and hundreds of articles while completing his two-volume masterwork, The Society of Society (1997).  He regularly pointed to his slip-box as the source for his fantastic productivity.

How Luhmann's slip-box worked
  • He wrote down any interesting or potentially useful ideas on uniformly sized index cards on one side only.
  • Each new index card got a sequential number, starting at 1.
  • When a new source was added to that topic or something to supplement it, he would add new index cards with letters added to the number (1a, 1b, 1c, etc.)
  • These branching connections were marked in red as close as possible, where the branch began.
  • Any of these branches could also have their own branches. (For example 21/3d26g53)
  • As he read, he would create new cards, update or add comments to existing ones, create new branches from existing cards, or create new links between cards.
Jorge Luis Borges

“So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”..."

Jorge Luis Borges
Taking care of your mind garden
  • Seed your mind garden with quality content. The format may impact how close you are to the source. The depth of the content you consume is not a measure of quality.
  • When consuming content, grow branches on your knowledge tree by taking notes. It will help you remember better.
  • To tend to your garden, you need to plant new ideas. Do this by replanting stems and cuttings from existing ideas you’ve added to your garden - by consistently taking notes, and combining them together, a bit like grafting.
The generation effect

It argues that you remember information better when you create your own version of it.

You can take short notes, long notes, it doesn’t matter as much as writing your thoughts in your own words.

Zen to Done (ZTD)

It's a productivity system that teaches how to take a simple approach to improving your productivity, by encouraging you to focus on forming one productivity-boosting habit at a time. 

The Minimalist Habits of Zen to Done
  • Collect: Get ideas and to-dos out of your brain and onto a list.
  • Process: Review your list daily and decide how to act on each item.
  • Plan: Pick a few high priority items to accomplish each week and every day.
  • Do: Schedule time to accomplish your selected to-dos without interruptions.
The Collect Habit

To clear your mind and improve focus, get your ideas and to-dos out of your mind and onto a list. 

Documenting to-dos in the moment lessens the likelihood that you'll forget to do something and gives you a master list of to-dos to reference when you're trying to decide where to direct your time.