Zettelkasten: The German Secret To Organize Your Life

It is said that it was the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998), who invented the well-known Zettelkasten or Slip-box system, although in reality it already existed some time ago. During his career, Niklas wrote more than 70 books and more than 400 academic articles. The secret? Your smart note-taking system.

Starting from the etymological basis ” Zettel ”, which means note, and ” Kasten ”, which means box, Zettelkasten would be a box of notes. And how is it possible that something apparently so simple and habitual is going to change your life as far as organization is concerned? The trick, as always, is in the details.


A practical example would be, for example, a blog about cooking. Maybe some time ago you wrote down an idea that said ” homemade ham croquettes ”, but you didn’t associate it with anything else. What was the answer to that idea? Were you thinking of creating a section about appetizers on your blog, or perhaps about homemade recipes? Was it some viral TikTok challenge? If you had used the Zettelkasten method, you would know it instantly.


To make each note, Niklas Luhmann used a quarter of a page, and religiously followed the following steps:

  • The notes had to be very concise and written in his own words so that in the future he could understand them without problems.
  • Continuing with the previous point, it was also essential that the notes could be understood alone without the need for pairing.
  • Each note should contain a single idea and be linked to other notes, forming a connection. Otherwise, that note would end up being forgotten.
  • It was also essential to mention the origin of the note, the source of inspiration.
  • The only order of the notes had to be thematic. To differentiate them, he could use letter and number codes, for example, 1, 1a, 1b, etc.
  • He never deleted any notes, something key to observing the evolution of ideas.

Tags: decor, German way of organization, home decor, interior design, notes, organizational tips, organizations, taking notes

Author: Renata Kralevska


A passionate female writer, I specialize in articles about architecture and home interiors. I love sharing insights and inspiration to help readers create beautiful and functional living spaces.


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