So I take down notes, and then what?

I have this setup in apple notes that creating a daily note page everyday. Over the years, I have an ocean of daily notes back there. But I always get confused on how to process each piece of note on the page. I was trying to do the Zettelkasten system with DevonThink, but I have no idea on the size of a single Zettel note.

Say, to me, a note titled “The Gold Reward” seems better than “Language Test Invoice from Students Applying for the Gold Reward” as an atomic note, because I fear I would losing the record for the invoice if I make it a separate page.

Check here: Getting Started • Zettelkasten Method

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I wouldn’t put an invoice (or other financial record) in a Zettelkasten, for starters.

You can’t decide how to handle notes until you decide why you want to keep them.


It sounds more like you’re journaling than creating a zettel… or other note-based storage system.

Jumping off what @kewms said, the contents of a daily note likely wouldn’t contribute much to what a zettelkasten is ostensibly for, either.

As others have touched on, journaling, record-keeping, and knowledge management are not the same activities. Zettelkasten is a method (and not the only one) for knowledge management. It would be useless for record-keeping.

I would also argue that Apple Notes is useless for record-keeping, and it fills me with horror that you’re trying to use it for that. The purpose of record-keeping is the archiving of important paperwork, often for tax purposes, other government paperwork, warranties, general life adminstration (modern life generates a lot of paperwork). Some of this paperwork you are legally required to keep for X number of years, so you need to know that your system is robust and you can navigate it quickly. For example, in the UK we must keep paperwork relating to taxes for 6 years.

(Sidenote to show the importance of good filing: in order to prove my family’s right to reside in the UK following brexit, we had to provide paperwork for every month dating back to when my Mother first arrived in the UK in 1973. Can your filing system provide that amount of paperwork? We managed to do it except for 2 months!)

For good record-keeping, you do not need a note system, you need a file system and protocol for how you handle paperwork. Any file management system can do this, but since filing is a chore just pick something simple that you already use. It could be Finder, or it could be DT - lots of us have a database (or databases) for record-keeping. Set it up in a way that makes sense to you, make sure you date and name your files correctly, and then carry on with your life in the knowledge you have meticulous filing.

For interest, I sort my own records by type:

This is just what works for me - figure out what works for you. In each group I have sub-folders relating to each service provider or theme.

I don’t do daily digital journaling so I can’t provide advice on that.


And I thought Germany was a bureaucratic nightmare… here, you’d be registered with the local government office, so they’d have all these data already. But I seem to remember that people in UK are opposed to that registration requirement.

Well presented and I agree fully.

I do pretty much what you do … but it struck me (hard on forehead!) that my “records” are spread across too many DEVONthink databases. Why? History, and years of DEVONthink usage.

So … new database called “Records” and I am consolidating all my “records”–from DEVONthink databases and elsewhere–into one database that is not synced to a 3rd Party sync service–not needed and no point adding yet more possible security risks, regardless of their low probability but high impact, if those risks “come true”.

Thanks for the nudge!

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Ohhh the British government has this info… they have border entrance and exit info, tax and insurance contributions, voter registrations, medical records, driving licence data… This isn’t because they don’t know who or where people are. It’s part of their “hostile environment programme” (actual name of the government scheme) to make life difficult for non-British citizens (and indeed British citizens they’ve arbitrarily decided to no longer acknowledge as legal). This was/is essentially weaponised paperwork.

Anyway, the point really is that whilst many of us do not live in unhinged democracies, some of us do, and the slide into madness can be subtle. Robust record-keeping may one day save you from legal drama. No-one thinks it will happen to them until it actually does.