How does zettelkasten help in scientific work and why are notes absolutely necessary for everyone?

How does zettelkasten help in scientific work and why are notes absolutely necessary for everyone?

Probably, many readers have already heard about the Zettelkasten method. Let me remind you in two words. It notes made in a certain way.

The notes overlap and provide a connected logic

Notes can contain anything. Personal thoughts, ideas about how to write an algorithm, experimental experience or even the logic of a romance novel (if it is there). But the problem is that they are related to each other. At the same time, each note is strictly devoted to one issue, contains a title and a brief conclusion. The notes themselves are connected to each other by something like hashtags.

At one time, the author of the technique called this approach “the second brain”, but I believe that this is an overly bold name.

The main advantage is data arrangement allows efficient processing of a mass of information. As a result, various interesting thoughts are formed, about which we would not even have thought without such records. And the notes themselves are useful, as they are a good reminder.

Initially, the author of the technique took notes like this, today you can use Google Keep

Skeptics often say that the technique does not work and that keeping records is long or even pointless.

I declare that this approach is very useful. It can be of great help to all creative people (and those who work with large amounts of data). Precise logic is suitable for developers, scientists, inventors and even writers. Wherever a huge amount of mental resources, which are limited in a person, are needed. And this, in fact, is the main key to understanding the effectiveness of the proposed system.

The main argument of the skeptics – organizing information will not be able to help in the formation of new ideas if you are a fool and, even more so, simplifying the development process. You won’t forget what’s important anyway, and the rest is superfluous. And here … Checkmate, dear.

No one here usually says about the limited capabilities of the human brain The skeptic is not confused by the fact that a standard computer may not have enough RAM and the system will start to slow down, slow down or reset the task. For some reason, this does not seem real to a person. And in vain.

A person, in general, is a kind of computer system. Physical memory tends to run out and will also be released. We forget unnecessary things and become very dull if we used to think very intensively. Or simply, what we do not use now is erased from our memory. Let’s say the plot of some book from the school curriculum. Moreover, the body approaches the concept of “important and necessary” very selectively. “Necessary” becomes unnecessary in an instant. Although it could serve a very important role. As a result, we often act on our fear = run bios, but this may not always be helpful.

Such processes inevitably lead to erasing from memory some very important pieces of the overall puzzle. Some working points, the specifics of this or that problem, supposedly minor details. And there is even a simple proof here.

You’ve probably been lying on the beach and your mind was relaxed and you felt some peace. For a moment, the thought slipped by: “Here’s a pancake! And if I hadn’t forgotten to take this important action then, my project would have turned out to be even more interesting.”

This is a simple example of how, in working with an excessive amount of information, you simply erased an important brick of your idea and at that moment the puzzle did not come together.

Moreover, The human brain was not originally designed to process such amounts of information, which we receive today. Therefore, the forced release of RAM often leads to the fact that the case “flew out of the head”. And here there is no substitute for the zettelkasten system.

Actually, it was a summary of the description of the personal experience of using the technique.

I first learned about such logic when I worked at one of the research institutes. At that time, I could not even imagine that it could be called some incomprehensible tricky overseas word.

We were working on a science project and my supervisor literally demanded that all experiments be recorded in a lab journal. Moreover, the entry must have a title and relate to a specific area of ​​work. It was also necessary to indicate the opinion that is tested by the experiment and write at least one word for the conclusion.

From the very beginning I thought it was unnecessary mouse fuss. It’s boring, long and you want to work with your hands. At that time, I only defended my thesis and overestimated my strength. Needless to say, in the laboratory journal issued to me, I drew mice and monkeys while I waited for the experiment to be completed.

I then also drew the data plate in this journal and marked it as yellow flask-press-18.02-friction results.

It seemed to me at the time that it was easy to remember the content of the record based on this information alone. Spoiler: No, it doesn’t work. I didn’t remember anything.

Once I was absent from work and happened to open my magazine in search of the necessary information. Then I got a strong backlash and gently hinted that the journal should still be kept properly. My notes were like the notes of a madman. The data was there, too, but there were all kinds of weird troll physics-style pictures.

A little later it turned out that data without any structuring is absolutely useless and so, It is impossible to remember anything. Even considering the fact that the essence of the experiment could be restored. I was then trying to gather data to participate in the conference. But there is no. It didn’t help.

Although at first I ignored the request for a journal, I now began to write down the titles of the works, began to mark the subject, and everywhere I wrote the idea that I wanted to test experimentally. Immediately he emphasized short conclusions based on the fact and made something like a category of work. The note now always contained the date, information from the experiment, topic, idea, direction of work and, most importantly, the conclusion.

Moreover, he did not pursue a specific goal then. After all, I am not the project manager and I was just doing something.

About six months have passed. Somehow there was an opportunity to be published in a good magazine. Those who are somehow connected with science know that this is a very important metric for a scientist. That was just the problem.

The main project was still finished, and the available results did not allow to draw a specific conclusion, which was expected by the project manager. There was nothing to write about in the article. And here the notes were saved.

It turned out that if you review all the records made during six months of work and read the brief conclusions to them, then a whole chain is formed in your head, which allows you to draw a more interesting general conclusion on the issue being studied.

Before reviewing the records and, most importantly, reading all the conclusions, it was difficult to imagine that a logic had already been formed and there were quite a few valuable results. Moreover, we were initially interested in a completely different question in the research. Moreover, the main role was also played by the presence of #hashtag substitutes.

As you probably already understood, I put it into practice without even knowing such words as tsettelkast.

It is difficult to comprehensively describe what exactly it looks like in the work, but the impressions are interesting – you review the conclusions to the notes and simply understand that you have never had such an opinion, which was formulated as a result of the review.

Since then, I have been constantly trying to record all my ideas and work points and tag the entries. I will not say that brilliant results are obtained, but this approach definitely simplifies life. I advise you to use it as well.

You can see intermediate conclusions that you would otherwise have forgotten for sure. You see the intersection of these thoughts with the help of categories that you would have lost. Based on the results of these conclusions, a whole opinion can be formed.

Technically, nothing prevents you from doing it by simply memorizing the information. But the memory is still usually overloaded and therefore many intermediate conclusions fall out of it. Moreover, if you dig deeper, the memory also remembers incorrectly. Emphasizing emotions and assumptions. But this is a completely different story.

Actually, if you are interested in reading even more about the techniques of effective thinking, I invite you to subscribe to my Telegram channel about Inventions. There I often analyze certain techniques and tell how to apply them in technical creativity.

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