How I Am Applying Zettelkasten

2 minute read

I’m a longtime sufferer of paralysis by analysis. With any new hobby, I spend more time researching how to best do something than actually doing that something. This happened with chess, reading, gaming, investing, and more. Naturally, when I learned about Zettelkasten, I really dug into learning how to best do it. Well, I am at a place where I need to start applying it.

In this post, I’ll give a brief introduction to Zettelkasten and discuss how I am going to use it, specifically as it relates to overall themes that I want to learn and write about.

A Bit About Zettelkasten & Me

At a high level, Zettelkasten is a “structureless” note-taking system. I use “structureless” loosely here – its structure typically emerges after adding and linking notes together, and is not predefined with folders and categories. The hope is that new insights and ideas arise organically from this intertwining and linking of notes. To learn more about Zettelkasten, head over this introduction – they do a much better job of explaining it.

This method of learning and taking notes really resonated with me. I’ve always loved learning and sharing knowledge. Learning helps me build a more holistic view of the world, and sharing knowledge helps me reinforce my learning while simultaneously helping others. Both of these things bring me immense joy and meaning.

However, because of my perfectionist tendencies (especially with unknown, new endeavors like this), I rarely take action. Couple that with imposter syndrome and I find myself in a perpetual cycle of learning new things, not sharing my knowledge, and feeling disappointed.

How I am Applying Zettelkasten

So how does Zettelkasten help me solve my perfectionist tendencies and overcome paralysis by analysis? Well, because of its inherent flexibility (remember, no predefined structure), I am free to explore whatever whims strike me. I can dig deep into psychology one week and stoicism the next. When I get bored with that, I can get my hands dirty with some economics. Hopefully, I can find meaningful connections between all of these topics and share some incredible insights.

To start, I am going to stay within my circle of competency. I am a software engineer by trade, and am currently managing a small engineering team. I’m going to spend some time reading and taking notes on some of the most recommended management books and apply those learnings to better serve my team (and write more!).

Let’s see where this Zettelkasten journey takes me!