Taking a Zettel Break

I am enamoured with the idea of the zettelkasten, and when I started again trying to pursue university I made a very impulsive decision to set one up. It helped some things, for sure: I would not have been able to complete my final speech on time in term 1 if I didn't have my zettelkasten to rely on. However, I've recently discovered that maintaining a zettelkasten might be antithetical to getting my BS in Computer Science. I hope to explore why here.

The Zettelkasten Model

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From the way I understand it[1], the main workflow for using a Zettelkasten basically goes like this:

  1. Find something interesting.
  2. Read that something through, noting the parts You want to take note of.
  3. Make the notes for those parts.
  4. File them in the Zettelkasten, which now has that information forever.
This is a very useful and thorough process, that requires full understanding and interpretation of the material You are interfacing with. It seems like the best way to digest information, especially for someone who will be digesting a large amount of information and (hopefully) feeding it back into a new paper that others might do the same to. For all intents and purposes, it is a great system.

But it is slow![2]

I was barely able to keep up for the first two terms, mostly because so much of my 'school' time was set aside for going through the backlog of zettels that I had to write out and store. Since I have put the zettelkasten away, I've found it much easier to keep up with the increasing workload (sometimes I'll have to reference upwards of 8 new articles in a week! Ingesting them into the zettelkasten would have taken me a full day by itself!) and think I'll reserve the zettelkasten for information I definitelywant to reference in my own work… At least until I get my Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science. Once I'm in graduate school[3], I'm hopeful I will be able to take the time to do this properly.

[1]: This could be very wrong, obviously, though if it is I think I would like to explore the idea as I understand it before learning the 'correct' way. Once I am out of my undergraduate education, I intend to reignite my efforts. Maybe I'll make an update then.

[2]: I don't mean this necessarily in the general sense. If You are able to focus on one piece of information for a longer period of time, I am confident my problems with the zettelkasten would no longer be accurate. But when You are constantly context-switching and juggling a full time job, 8 week courses, and an obsessively-minded researching style, it can make reading three or four papers a bit of a lag.

[3]: Maybe the solution actually lies within being more picky about what I add. But It's hard to do that when taking so much general education! Once my studies are more about my studies, I think doing this kind of knowledge work will be much more straightforward.