Slipboxes and Evergreens

Posted on Jan 27, 2023

For years ive struggled with keeping up with ideas. Growing them, expanding them and more importantly proving them out. Then, when coming to this website ive found it especially hard when it comes to figuring out what would be an interesting read. So I typically end up reading more on the subject of coming up with subjects. Wherein I found the holy grail and as others before me found this great strategy to ruminate on ideas. The all magical slipbox made popular by niklas luhmann.

I’ve been researching on the how now for awhile. The concept, that in itself feels simple has so many variations based on the person interpreting the how. I was able to distill down what works for me digitally, but still find that it lacks a lot. So then I wonder, what im doing wrong. Especially when it comes to my pride as a novice researcher. So this post is a little bit about that research and a little about the steps im taking in my obsidian vault to merge concepts.

The Stack

  1. Obsidian.md w/ sync option
  2. Para Method
  3. Bullet Journal
  4. A voice recorder
  5. Readwise
  6. Pocket and Instapaper
  7. Hypothesis
  8. Zotero

How things work together

The two work horses of the stack are going to be obsidian (digital) and the bullet journal (analog). These two are used in tandem to create a unified input experience. Since my day to day is mostly spent behind a computer the bullet journal is a nice relief from staring at screens however I have found that with both a good amount of dallying occurs. To be specific, there is a cycle of reviewing entries / fleeting notes and crafting new ideas. Which is fine, thats kinda the point. At least its better than doom scrolling twitter.

The underlying structures for each medium are based off of different strategies. The bujo is going to follow the structure that was passionately laid out by Ryder Carroll in ‘The bullet journal method’. While the structure provided to obsidian is modeled off of the PARA Method, laid out in ‘Building a second brain’ by Tiago Forte, for folder layout then a slipbox in the resources area.

The slipbox is mostly following advice from ‘How to take smart notes’ by Sönke Ahrens. Which involves taking fleeting note. Which is a single page in the bujo or a ‘Fleeting Note’ / simple note in Obsidian. Then taking time at the end of the day to move them into a permanet note which is then referenced by a map of content. Which is a index of underlying information around a subject of interest. On a side, originally I had thought that the slipbox would be highly organized but its really not. Its just kind of a mess of subjects that are intreguing that you tend to want to expand upon just because.

The last bit of the slipbox is the use of Zoterto for keeping track of where the information is coming from. Since splitting the reference note is supposed to remain independent of the permanent note. While this, I personally feel, only helps people doing more academic research ive tried to keep to the methodology.

The last bit, Readwise, Pocket, Instapaper and Hypothesis are all very fun and enjoyable to in creating a digital funnel. Basically as im running around the internet and pulling up information if its an article I don’t have time to read I slap the ‘Instapaper’ extension and BAM the information is ready to go next time I pull up the instapaper app. Aside from that instapaper has some unique in’s from email sources that I use for various newsletters. Pocket I reserve for bookmarking simply because I needed a better bookmark tool. Then Hypothesis is great with grabbing random highlights across the web.

Readwise, is amazing. I’ve been using it for around 455 days consistently now and while I disagree with the amount of ‘Catcher and the Rye’ quotes it keeps showing me the actually funnel into obsidian is very impressive. It basically works like this

flowchart TB Pocket-->Readwise Instapaper-->Readwise Hypothesis-->Readwise Readwise-->Obsidian

The daily practice

So having setup Obsidian using the aforementioned PARA method and having the bujo setup. The daily practice is usually to do the following in the morning

  1. Turn on the pomodoro
  2. Create daily note in obsidian
  3. Create the bujo daily note and check any forgotten tasks
  4. Take the notes from the bujo transfer to obsidian daily note

Note that these steps don’t use any slipnote methodologies and thats because the first focus of the day is on tasks. The slip box is used for developing ideas and expanding them which should happen through the day but isn’t explicit.

todo add the obsidian templates

Supported Reading and websites


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