Systematic notetaking communities overcomplicate the process of thinking

When looking at YouTube, Reddit and Forums (particularly around Obsidian, Roam Research and Notion), one might get the impression that notetaking and Zettelkasten are extremely complex and require sophisticated workflows to pilot.

Luhmann's workflow in a nutshell:

  • I read thing
  • I write note on paper card
  • I put paper card in box
  • I link paper card
  • I take paper cards out of box
  • I write book

No MOCs, no progressive summarization, no "building a second brain with PARA", no "linking your thinking", no elaborate workflows integrating 200 apps and data views.

The entire point of the Zettelkasten and reason behind Luhmann's success was the simplicity of the system, The key to enormous success is not doing the hardest thingsThe key to enormous success is not doing the hardest things

The key to great productivity is not forcing yourself to do the hard things. It is to change your environment so that you naturally gravitate towards doing the productive thing.


I feel like a big part of the tools for thought community is procrastinating on doing real work by tweaking their setups and making systems about it. I was certainly guilty of this in the past.

While these communities are free to do spend their time how they want, this initial complexity of it all a) creates a significant barrier to entry for people looking to get organized b) makes people think that this process will do most of the heavy work for them once they have set everything up

Just look at the numerous "No idea how to get started" and "this system failed me" posts on reddit.