How to set up an Ideal Zettelkasten using Obsidian
Disclaimer: The usage of word ideal is relative. Ideal here is ideal for me. You must explore your own options to see what works well for you to meet your demands.
I use a combination of Obsidian and Logseq to manage all my incoming notes. When I began experimenting with Zettelkasten I used to call the vault folder for this setup as my personal Zettelkasten. But as I learned more about Zettelkasten I am forced to not call my personal vault as a Zettelkasten. Right now it has everything; Personal Notes, Journal Entries, Study Notes, Reference Notes and Literature Notes. Apart from this, I also use it as an ad-hoc Project Management tool. The only thing I don’t do with it is copy, pasting information from other sources. For all future reference’s I shall be calling this collection as my “Zettelmind”. Zettelmind also have some permanent notes, that are not fully developed.
Now let’s come to the ideal obsidian based Zettelkasten setup. Zettelmind will act as the fuel for this. In my case, this website is in fact my Zettelkasten system. Starting August 27, 2021, all permanent notes will be created and processed from here as I realised the need for separating it from Zettelmind (for the sake of freeing ideas from its context).
Now the one thing we need is either a large screen display or a multi-monitor setup. This is crucial to recreate a pseudo-spatial awareness of all our permanent notes and how they are linked to each other. So a part of the screen real estate must go towards keeping the Graph View of obsidian open.
As we are writing a permanent note, we can start thinking about the context into which this note can be fitted. It is during this time you can refer to the graph and use the filters to triangulate a possible location for your note. This way, rather than linking to notes using doubt brackets as a default reaction, you explore all your previous notes before you link the new notes. This method gives you three benefits:-
- You are more involved in the process of linking
- As you are trying to add a new note each time, you are familarizing with your existing chain of thought or idea
- Finally this process exposes you to new combinations or questions that you might not have discovered during your earlier iterations of exploring the topic.
I believe this will help negate some bad habits we pickup while trying to use Zettelkasten in a digital environment.