Greetings and welcome to the fourth blog post of: My Experience. In this blog series I give insight into how I apply knowledge gained. For more information about this series click here. In this blog post I describe my experience with Zettelkasten in Notion.
For those who want to know more about my experience with other applications for zettelkasten, including: Evernote, OneNote and Obsidian. There is “Zettelkasten – the ultimate guide” here you can find all our zettelkasten content:
These are the most read blog post of the website. Know Act Invest Readers want to know how to use Zettelkasten. Beside Evernote and OneNote I found out that Notion is a popular option among Apple users. This blog post will use a comparable writing structure. Using the same two Zettelkasten principles, the principle of atomicity and connectivity. More about this further down.
How to access Notion
Notion has a load of ways for accessing it, the options are clickable links to the appropriate pages:
The notes will be automatically synced across your devices. You can use an existing Apple ID or Google account. It is also possible to provide an e-mail address to make a dedicated Notion account. For this blog post I will be using the browser version, it supports all functionality.
I have also looked at the pricing model. Notion is free to use if it comes to notes for an individual. The only limitation is the amount of people you can share notes with, beside that the files you can attach to notes. In conclusion, free to use for a lonesome Zettelkasten.
Apply Zettelkasten principles in Notion
The main goal is to use the software as described by the Zettelkasten system, to see how we can apply this in Notion. The Zettelkasten system uses an unique numbering system based on the principle of atomicity. This means that you put information that belongs together on a single note with an ID. The ID can be used as a reference. The second principle is the principle of connectivity. In other words, connecting notes about similar subjects.
Principle of atomicity
The goal of this principle is to group related information. This makes notes easier to find. In the Zettelkasten system this works by giving an ID. By example the ID: 1A for a note about Value Investing. Then 1B for a related note about a valuation method. ID 2A for the first note about active investing. And so on. This grouping method works great if you have physical drawer with notes. But nowadays there are different ways to go about this, in the example I use the same notes that I put in Evernote.
Unlike Onenote or Evernote, Notion is not restricted to a set structure with levels. Notion uses one level: pages. The pages can be arranged in any hierarchy, with unlimited levels. To illustrate this the screenshot below.
On the left side you can see the pages structured. On the right side the content of the note selected. As you can see I created one main page, named investing. One level deeper contains: Active investing and Value investing. Each of these have their own subjects. To show off the versatility I added some pages under Active investing. In the following Hierarchy: Futures > Future Exchanges > Margin Mechanism. This means there are endless possibilities for structuring notes.
To apply the principle of atomicity I used the pages, it is possible to group as many notes on a certain level as you want.
Principle of connectivity
The principle of connectivity has the goal to create new ideas from connecting notes. In EverNote I used tags to do this, separate from the layered structure. Notion has a dedicated linking system. It creates links in your notes automatically based on the structure:
This is nice but what if you want to connect notes that are not part of the structure. For this Notion has a linking system that is dynamic. You can create a link by clicking type @ within a note, then you can search the note you want to reference to and select it. The picture below shows this:
If the title of the “Options” page changes. This will dynamically update all the links to that page. Therefore I think the linking system in Notion is one of its strong points. You don’t have to work with long URL’s or embedded pages. This makes the process of connecting ideas easy.
Zettelkasten in Notion conclusion
In conclusion, I really like Notion. Especially the note linking system. I think it really excels compared to Evernote and OneNote. Also the option to create your own structure, which is not limited, is a strong point. If you are just starting out with Zettelkasten I recommend Notion. For Zettelkasten I will keep using EverNote, because I like using tags. For now. In the coming months I will try out notion some more. I may transfer my notes eventually. This will depend on how mobile friendly it actually is, which I still have to experience. Eventually I will come with an update with my decision included.
Want to learn more about Zettelkasten?
Then I recommend the following book. This is the step-by-step guide on how to set up and understand the principles behind the note-taking system that enabled Luhmann to become one of the most productive and systematic scholars of all time: How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases) You can also first read my blog post about the book, where I describe the core concepts, so you can better determine if it suits your needs: How to Take Smart Notes – #7 My Experience.
What are your experiences with Zettelkasten?, Which software do you use? Let me know in the comments, I am eager to hear from you.
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