Do you separate your ZK/permanent notes from everything else?

Hi all,

My question: I write lots of non-atomic notes on things I read (reference/literature notes), ideas I have, plans, challenges, and so on. I link these together extensively. Would you recommend isolating Zettel/permanent notes from all that other information? Or do you think it would be beneficial to have them exist in the same place?

For a little more than a month I’ve been using Roam Research to take notes for my university studies, interests, and other things. Almost none of these notes are atomic; I’m not using it as a Zettelkasten where I write very deliberately, but just as a place to write ‘whatever’. My plan was to start using Roam in that way first, then after a while start a Zettelkasten-like database in Obsidian. Now, I’m not sure if it would be better to keep those separate or perhaps move everything into the same Obsidian vault. Would love to hear your opinions on this!


Personally, I think there’s value in linking between them at times. Having the source notes available as an instant reference to an atomic note. But I have less concern over a rigid distinction of work. I can see how your plan would work as Roam is more of an outliner and Obsidian especially rewards writing/editing as a format but it’s perfectly capable of both. I remember when I started trying both out watching a video of someone’s setup and they did it just like you’re describing. The added bonus is you could use Obsidian’s Publish function to share those finished thoughts if that was your goal.

At the end of the day I need very little friction to make sure I’m making use of the tool but no reason you can’t make it work as long as you’re not going to go through the frequent hassle of exporting data back and forth.

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Thank you for the reply! My reasons for making the distinction are as follows:

  • Like you said - Roam is an outliner, and for me, it’s perfect for sketching out notes/ideas very quickly. Obsidian feels more deliberate for me.
  • On top of that, Obsidian’s data is on my computer. I want my ZK data to be as compatible with other apps as possible, and it feels better to self-host it.
  • Having it locally also means that DEVONthink can index it so that I can find connections between ZK notes and other documents using the “see also” feature.

Possible reasons for putting things together would be

  • As you mention, less friction - everything in the same place is just… easier
  • And also, as you mention - being able to link to source material.

On the other hand, if all my source material and other pieces of information are right next to my ZK, I’d be worried that all the other non-ZK stuff will make my ZK notes less accessible.

Probably should’ve posted that in the top post, but your post inspired me to write the above, so thanks :slight_smile:

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I have my Zettlekasten in a separate folder. But I don’t strictly enforce this, and I link between them and tag them, freely. If a note is in the wrong place, I may or may not clean it up casually over time.

The main reason I keep them in a separate folder is that someday if the Random Notes plugin can filter by folder, they’ll be separate for shuffling through. Otherwise I’ll mostly be sorting using tags, links and MOCs.

(I have it all in one vault. My only separate vault is a CRM for managing contacts, which I tested, but don’t actually use.)

You also could use a simple identifier in your notes, whether that was Zettlekasten or another to differentiate. At the end of the day, do whatever gets you the best work! I also use Devonthink to to index my data which is another plus of having it all in a folder of my choice vs cloud only (which isn’t great for a couple reasons).

As I use Obsidian for my full PKM system, not just the Zettlelkasten part, I keep everything in a single vault (everything = all evergreen notes, I call them notions, regular notes, bookmarks, and project related notes.), but I have separate folders for them. The evergreen notes have a separate folder, away from the dynamics of the work and information input that swirls around it in the other folders. I also have a folder in the evergreen folder for ‘proto-notions’, which is stuff that will become an evergreen (or get ‘demoted’) over time, but needs work still.

I keep all of it in one vault explicitly to be able to link between things. So I can link to relevant concepts when I am in my ongoing work notes. So I can link specific examples I found to the evergreens they are an example of, or vice versa. For regular notes I usually add a few words about why I think something is of interest. That why often relates to an evergreen concept, so I link to it as well.