Devonthink for PARA + mindmapping + zettelkasten + read me later

I took Thiago’s ‘Building a Second Brain’ course recently and I really wish he would take a deeper look at DT3 as for me it’s the perfect app for PKM/2nd Brain.

Right now I have P.A.R.A pretty well established in DT3 using a single database with a group structure for my ‘2nd Brain’ along side Projects and Area’s in Things3. I have P.A.R.A set up in my iCloud and OneDrive folders but I tend to move items into DT3 rather than index.

I’ve been using this system to study an online course recently and combined with Readwise & Hypothes.is it has totally changed how I capture and process knowledge. The only issue is having to rely on RTF to fully ‘progressively summarise’ due to the lack of support for md highlights within DT3, I’d much prefer to stay with md. (Side note, I wish there was a native Readwise sync to DT3, having to go via Evernote is annoying and I’m worried it will just break with the way Evernote is heading).

Just got started with Kourosh Dini’s book and my idea is to build a Zettleksten in a separate DT3 database to use as a destination for my interpretation of key ideas/insights coming out of what I process in my 2nd Brain.

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hei @obbiie - how exactly are you leveraging Things3 in your setup?

I tend to use it for “P” to manage project todos and deadlines as well as organize them into “A”=areas.

I agree with you re RTF, I came to the same conclusions when evaluating PARA system and DT3. In fact, lack of support for highlighting has nothing to do with DT3 - it is md standard which is indeed just plain text not supporting highlighting. This leads sometimes to me saving files into DT3 in RTF format knowing that I want to process them via summarization approach although my default would be actually md. I wonder if there is some better workflow for this?

Where I am still a bit not sure is the connection between something like Zettelkasten System in Obsidian/DT with markdown files (which are also indexed into DT3 - this is a great combo) and Tiago’s approach with highlighting (and RTF in DT3). It seems like any summarization one is doing in these RTF files, as you suggest below, requires creation of “evergreen notes” or “zettel”'n in the the other database.

It seems that summarization ala Tiago is more or less “on-demand” and “passive” (you highlight text, etc).
Whereas Zettelkasten System with evergreen notes forces one to re-frame the the words of other people and consolidate the knowledge across multiple sources - i.e. it is an “active” approach which can build upon those summarized sources.

So, in summary, so far, I came up with:
DT: mainly PDF, RTF > uses highlighting and summarization
Obsidian (+indexed folder into DT): all MD, only “my thoughts” linking back into files in DT using great DT’s linking feature. I got inspired for this by the approach @ryanjamurphy is mentioning on this as well as obsidian forums.

I use Things for both projects and areas and currently run both personal and work projects in it. I don’t nest projects under areas as, like Thiago, I prefer to have all of my projects at the top of the list (see screenshot) So I have all my projects at the top (defined as any discrete thing I want to achieve by a certain date or to a certain outcome) and then a set of work and personal areas at the bottom (defined as longer-term interests/responsibilities that I work on over time but do not have a definite idea of ‘done’)

Each Project will have a goal, and I track these goals in lists in DT3 that I have in my favourites.

I exactly replicate my Projects and Areas in DT3 and use item linking from DT3 to tasks within projects in Things so that I can easily get to an item I need to work on.

I let Things take care of Archives through how it completes/cancels projects when I finish them, and the logbook. Anything I want to re-use as a resource or refer back to in archives will be a tangible item either in DT3 or file system rather than the task in things.

Re: markdown highlights, I’ve seen a few threads on this, and there is syntax for highlights, and it does work in some other apps.

I’m still in the exploration phase on how to use a Zettlekasten, but what you describe is exactly how I’m currently thinking about using it. I’d prefer to keep it all in DT3 so I will see if Kourosh’s ideas help me achieve that, if not I like the idea of indexing the files that I can then use in Obsidian but still search in DT3.

Thanks for the details @obbiie!

I’m still in the exploration phase on how to use a Zettlekasten, but what you describe is exactly how I’m currently thinking about using it. I’d prefer to keep it all in DT3 so I will see if Kourosh’s ideas help me achieve that, if not I like the idea of indexing the files that I can then use in Obsidian but still search in DT3.

I do keep all in stuff DT3, that is my main workhorse so to say. Obsidian provides a very nice graph feature which is beautiful add-on to all the features DT3 is giving. You can read more on this e.g. here on the forum or Curtis’s blogpost on this.

@obbiie i just came across this {==some text==} creates a highlighted text in md in DT3: image

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Indeed. That’s part of the CriticMarkup syntax supported by MultiMarkdown.

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That’s really great. Is there any way the editing bar in a DT3 markdown file can support this? Right now the highlight is greyed out and not selectable.

Development would have to assess this and the possibility of having buttons for the other CriticMarkup options…

  • Addition {++ add this ++}
  • Deletion {-- delete this --}
  • Substitution {~~this~>not this~~}
  • Comment {>>some comment<<}
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This can be probably done via a customer applescript, icon of which which then can be attached to the main toolbar today @BLUEFROG ?
I use keyboard maestro for this stuff, but maybe this can help @obbiie

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The next version will support this to underline/strike through/highlight text (via the menu, shortcuts and the editing bar).

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That is pretty cool!

I’m curious what you came up with for handling these.

I have pressing projects that have a definable outcome but rarely a deadline more specific than ASAP.

I’ve been practicing PARA in DT3 and have created four separate databases for this purpose.

The question is: how do I tackle the increasingly large AREA database (DT has a size limit for smooth running databases)?

Because the content inside the AREA fields is where I often need to maintain, a large number of files are constantly being added :exploding_head:

How many items & words (see File > Database Properties) does the database contain? However, there’s no real limit, only a recommendation. And that depends in the end a lot on the used computer.

https://discourse.devontechnologies.com/t/how-many-records-fit-into-a-database/52192/3
For my mac with 8G of RAM, 200,000,000 words seems like an appropriate limit for a database.

Because I have a large number of books PDF, reaching this amount seems to be a predictable thing :exploding_head:

Maybe the best way to solve it is to upgrade my Mac?Or do you have a better suggestion? :blush:

Unfortunately 8 GB of RAM isn’t that much anymore these days.

Why does my M1 Max order with 64G memory show that my bank card balance is insufficient? :upside_down_face: :sob:

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I’ve been practicing PARA in DT3 and have created four separate databases for this purpose.

Interesting. I was thinking about doing the same exactly because of the reason you mentioned, Areas part tends to grow very fast in terms of assets and might deserve a separate db.
Also i could imagine syncing Projects DB over to iPad would be more handy as I am doing this today (using a completely separate DB not related to PARA). I think your post has motivated me to try this out! :slight_smile:

What is your summary overall after using this approach?

Hey jooz! :grinning:

I’m sorry for the late reply to you.

In my long practice of P.A.R.A, I have found that the most important value of the system is that it allows me to distinguish what areas are important and what areas I can ignore.

As a result, I am no longer creating 4 separate databases for PARA.

My method is: I add numbers to the name of each database to distinguish whether the database belongs to AREA, RESOURCE, or ARCHIVE. e.g. 02 for AREA, 03 for RESOURCE, 04 for ARCHIVE. this helps me distinguish which database to focus on.

Also, multiple databases help me to reduce the pressure on my running memory and reduce the risk of data loss (avoiding putting them in the same basket).

What do you think of this? I’d be happy to hear if you have a better way to practice P.A.R.A.

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Thank you! I truly need to experiment with it!