On project notes in the Zettelkasten

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In fact, we are not bound to use our Zettelkasten just for our personal knowledge management. By integrating it into our general note-taking workflow, we are not far from using it also as a GTD1 and project management system. Here, I will not got into to-do lists and project management itself. I’d rather like to share my opinion on how project management should be represented in the Zettelkasten.


The simplest way to manage a project from within our Zettelkasten is to created a so-called Project Note. In Sönke Ahrens’ Zettelkasten book2 (there in Chapter 6), these notes are even listed as a separate note type besides the default Fleeting, Literature and Permanent Notes. In my opinion, we don’t need to interpret Project Notes as their own and separate note type, we can still use them by sticking to the three default types. Also, Project Notes were never part of the original Zettelkasten implementation by Niklas Luhmann. I know, this is some sort of nitpicking. But I think instead of introducing a forth type of notes, we could interpret Project Notes as a special type of Fleeting Note. Just that this Fleeting Note is kept a little longer.

Such (Project) Fleeting Note could be used, e.g.,

  • to define the project’s working title
  • to define a precise description and goal of the project
  • to draft a concept
  • to define and manage the project tasks
  • as a general hub for all incoming ideas on the project and to preliminarily structure these ideas

Wherever it is appropriate, the individual outlines within this note can be further transferred to new or existing Permanent Notes as (partial) results of the project. At the end of the project and in case the note fulfills the corresponding criteria, we could also convert it into a Permanent Notes itself. If not, we delete it just as any other Fleeting Note. Fleeting Notes are not meant to be a permanent part of a Zettelkasten and when the project is over and all of its tasks are done, there is no longer a valid reason to keep them. However, for the sake of keeping a record of our projects and instead of deleting the Fleeting Note, we could also move it into an external archive system outside our Zettelkasten, e.g., into a separate database or a special folder on our computer.

  1. GTD – Get Things Done (Wikipedia

  2. Ahrens, Sönke. Das Zettelkasten-Prinzip: Erfolgreich wissenschaftlich Schreiben und Studieren mit effektiven Notizen. Germany, BoD - Books on Demand, February 23, 2017. ISBN: 9783743124981, 374312498X 


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