The Zettelkasten

I’m building myself a Zettelkasten in Agenda and it seems to be working like a charm.


I’ve only skimmed the overview, but looks intriguing. Could you say a bit about why and how you are using this method in Agenda?

I’ve now found this much more useful introduction to the method. Looks very suited to Agenda and just what I’ve been looking for!

Could you say a bit about how you implement it in Agenda please?

Just realised I may have misinterpreted your original post! Do you mean you set out to create a Zettelkasten in Agenda, or have you just realised that the way you use Agenda has resulted in a Zettelkasten?


Thanks for posting this link. Very informative. Quite a lot in the 1st pass through. I’ve created a note! :wink:

One question I have…do you think Agenda (iCloud) is robust enough (scalable?) at this stage to take on this task?

Hope the Devs chime in on this Thread!

Seems like their feature release of a Share sheet along with Shortcuts would work nicely with this method.

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It kind of disrupted my set-up, because I worked with categories and projects and I still do with all the factual business stuff and planning and such.
But with this Zettelkasten thing I now have one project where all things I find interesting go into and I use tags and @’s to sort them all out. The beauty of it is that these information networks do arise and all kinds of wonderful connections just pop-up (I transfered a lot of notes from other projects - and apps! - into the Zettelkasten). My way is less scientific than the original and more like Warren Buffetts Mental Models.

So yeah. Nice and it looks like it will be a good help to understand things and create new stuff.



Thanks for introducing me to Zettelkasten, I’m really getting into it.

Interestingly I’ve just read in another blog about the concept, the importance of hierarchy and cross links. This author is explaining the potential of the ZK notes-naming system to provide coherence to one’s notes. He’s using a paper based system. However, seems to me that Agenda’s category/project structure could be really useful.

I’m thinking about considering my entire Agenda as my Zettelkasten - or rather, any notes that are “ideas” I’ll apply ZK-type approach to them, regardless of whether I create them in a Project for a piece of work for a client, or in a special Ideas/ZK project. If I use consistent tags etc, and cross link appropriately, I’ll have a ZK which includes all my ideas and which I can explore using the “related notes” sidebar, tags and links!

I’ve been struggling with organising, and picking up again, my notes about ideas rather than tasks.

I’ll see how it goes!

Edit:here’s another really good explanation. Knowledge Processing System (PKM) for Knowledge Workers. I think Agenda could do all the separate elements described here and done in different apps.


This site might also be useful-

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Very nice.

That’s my focus as I read more about the method. ‘Projects’ for me are more focused and/or self contained with a particular finite end in mind. This method seems apt for marking the trail of items that may be ‘more’ of use in the future. Can’t quite get my mind around it, yet. Never mind develop a system within Agenda to utilize it. Waiting for Roam to come out from Beta. Anyway, thanks guys for sharing.

I’m pretty happy how using Agenda as a Zettelkasten is working out. It may not have the bells and whistles of dedicated apps, but the big plus for me is that I don’t have to decide if an idea belongs in Agenda or Roam or wherever.

Basically, I’ve created a project called Ideas and each note/Zettel has one idea. I’m broadly following the structure recommended for Zettel contents, adding links between notes and tags.

However, I sometimes create Zettel notes in client-related and other projects if they also belong to that project. Because of links and tags they are still part of my Zettelkasten, even if they aren’t in the Ideas project.

I’m experimenting with a project “bibliography” where one note = one article. I include link to original and make my notes in the article here. I make the author’s name a person tag so I can search and also see other items in Related Notes. I can then link from an Idea note/Zettel to the relevant bibliographic Note. Obviously this won’t work if you need to insert properly formatted references in your writing, but don’t.

Yes, I’d love you to tell us more too.

Here’s a Medium article on the idea. Might be behind the paywall, but the app does allow for a few views per month-

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I may be breaking the Zettelkasten method, but I’ve added another type of Note which I’m calling ‘Arguments’.

The core of ZK is the Zettel (index card originally, now a Note) where one it’s strictly one idea per note.

Having got a number of ideas down, I’m trying to make a coherent argument building on these ideas. These arguments will probably turn into blog posts, revised home page for my company site, revised product descriptions etc. I have a number of ‘arguments’ within the same broad topic and drawing on the same ideas - but exploring different aspects or aimed at different audiences.

Each argument is developed in a single note, usually in outline style using indented lists.

I’m using the Agenda structure:

Thinking (category)

Inbox (project)
Ideas & Concepts (project)
Bibliography (project)
Arguments (sub-cat)

Theme 1 (project)
Theme 2 etc (project)

Slightly worried I’m over-complicating, but it’s very helpful so far.

Thanks for sharing. I’m taking more of a ‘general’ approach with the whole concept right now using one Catagory (Zettelkasten) and one Project (Zettels). It’s (the Zettels) a generalized idea file box managed by Agenda Links and Tags. Like you one idea (possibly multi thought) per Zettel. I’m looking forward to the next Agenda Beta with the Tag ‘browser’ and dual-link feature, :face_with_hand_over_mouth:.

What defines “one idea”?

The stuff I’ve read doesn’t specifically define it, but this description of the principles of the system might help:

Using Zettelkasten method to organise ideas and thinking:

  1. One note for one idea
    1. Title summarises the content (eg conclusion of the argument)
    2. First sentence should summarise the idea
    3. Next: explain the idea
    4. Example?
  2. Each note most standalone, self contained and comprehensible
  3. Every note should have at least link to another note
  4. Explain the reason for the link
  5. Write the idea in my own words
  6. Add reference(s) to each note
  7. Create notes for my own ideas, as well as other people’s ideas
  8. Don’t ‘file’ notes in a different categories
  9. Create notes to explain connections between ideas
  10. Create notes that give an overview of emerging themes - an outline note is just a sequence of links to other notes, creating a story or argument
  11. Never delete notes. Add a link to new notes that explain why the old one is superseded.
  12. Just add notes.
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Oh, thanks. I am very familiar with Luhmann’s essays and work. The “one idea” thing is baffling though. Not sure why it’s important to be so atomic – a bit of a stressful practice I would think. Some bloggers I’ve noticed get rather prescriptive about note taking.

The ‘one idea’ makes sense to me, though I think of it more as ‘one concept’. It can be a bit stressful, but in a positive way - it forces me to be clear what I’m actually thinking!

Here are a couple of examples of ideas/concepts that I’m working with at the moment:

  • "Pandemics, climate change and environmental destruction are connected”
  • "Communities with thriving local economies will best withstand future crises”
  • "Caring for others is core to human nature.”

I find it really works, for me, to write out the idea as a statement. I often start a Zettel by jotting down something much less coherent: eg "Fragility of global trade networks”. To make this useful I need to work out what I really mean by this. Something like “Global trade networks are much more vulnerable to shock than we realise”.

When I come to write about the subject, I look over these notes I can select those that I want to work with, and develop my argument.

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This Drafts update might be worth exploring in regards to Kettelkasten …“Cross linking between drafts”

8K+ words; I found it today and it was published today too.

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