Extend Your Mind and Memory With a Commonplace Book

363017310_9d8bf3ac1f_mThere’s a cool word in German for commonplace book — zettelkasten, which means “card index” or “slip box.”

Christian Tietze wrote a book about using a zettelkasten, which he defines as “a device to extend your mind and memory so you can work with texts efficiently and never forget things again.”

Today zettelkasten refers to any system—digital or paper-based—used for this purpose. Check out the following posts from Christian for more details.

  • Create a Zettelkasten for your Notes to Improve Thinking and Writing: “Notes can and should stimulate new associations and foster your creativity just like a good talk does.”
  • Extend Your Mind and Memory With a Zettelkasten: “Both permanent storage and interconnectedness are necessary to use the full potential of an archive for your notes.”
  • Building Blocks of a Zettelkasten: “In short, you and your note archive can communicate with one another if the results your archive produces are sufficiently surprising and thought-inspiring.”
  • You Only Find What You Have Identified: “The objective of a Zettelkasten note archive is to store notes and allow connections. Both are necessary to extend our mind and memory.”
  • The Need to Craft: “Writing a single note doesn’t take a lot of time. Also, a single note is self-contained and can be re-used, so when I finish a note it almost feels like I completed a small writing project which I find deeply gratifying.”
  • Preparing Fragments Helps You to Ease Into Writing: “A Zettelkasten makes writing texts easy. It encourages you to prepare research and the most of your writing before you compile your first draft. This way you can focus on one task at a time and needn’t sweat about getting through.”

P.S. Index cards are great for capturing ideas on the run, as Hipster PDA fanatics will remind you.

Photo credit: hawkexpress via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

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