How Do You Manage Information?

Shadows Pub
4 min readAug 27, 2022

My note-taking and workflow process.

original images from / modifications by author

In April I wrote a post about the Zettlekasten or slip-box system most people would associate with the work of Nicklas Luhmann. He wasn’t the first to use the slip-box system, his prolific writings from the contents of his caught people’s attention.

The search for an effective note-taking system has created a market for PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) courses, books and articles. The challenge for most people is finding a system that works for them.

Some try to copy Luhmann’s. I heard a person on a Twitter space today talking about his system and that it takes hard work and discipline to create and use his system. I’m pretty sure that the gentleman hasn’t read Sonke Ahren’s book, “How to Take Smart Notes”.

Approaching A Note-Taking Structure

Ahren talks about Luhmann’s method and how to use it. He also discusses how a note-taking system has not be so complicated that you get bogged down in creating and using it instead of it working for you.

In the past, systems I tried to create for myself often became bogged down in structure that only worked for one type of note source. Once I started using Obsidian, I started to see that I could create templates for multiple styles of notes. They can all interconnect easily.

As I explored further into Ahren’s book, I’ve started to see that it’s okay if at times some of my notes seem to chaotic in how they are stored. It’s not as much the storing as being able to retrieve them.

Luhmann’s system used a numbering system to store notes. He clearly understood the system since he designed it. My goal is to use a system I understand and can make work for me. While Luhmann’s numbering and reference system worked for him, I take a different approach.

When I first started using Obsidian I setup vaults (like master folders) for the major subjects I would be taking notes on. It didn’t take me long to realize, I was creating barriers both for future growth and exchanging information across topics.

I created one vault where all my notes will go.

Within the vault I use folders and subfolders to loosely organize my notes. It’s in…

Shadows Pub

Writer | Publisher — I write what catches my interest. A lot catches my interest. I create books to use. Life is a marathon, set your pace & enjoy the trip.