How to turn a taken note to an evergreen note?


I have many notes that I take when I do some task so that I don’t have to search for the steps again if I repeat the task. A typical example would be a note about how I setup a computer, how I use a software tool etc. Right now I am reviewing a note about how I setup Obsidian.

I would like to ask for suggestions how to make these notes more useful. Right now they are just the opposite of evergreen notes: they are not atomic, not densely linked and contain mostly info copied from the Internet.

Thanks in advance for any hint.

notes that I take when I do some task so that I don’t have to search for the steps again if I repeat the task.

That is the value of those notes. Why would you want that type of note to be “evergreen”? Evergreen notes are for developing your knowledge of a topic not for remembering how to set up a computer.

I keep this type of notes in my Zettelkasten and tag them as #howto followed by a link to the app to facilitate querying later.

My reasons are that unlike Luhmann who only used his slip box for inputting and generating ideas, we use our Obsidian vault in a more versatile manner - as a second brain (Tiago Forte) where we offload tasks, useful information, personal journals, snippets that are had to find again, etc.

Workflows that we develop overtime, developing, testing and adjusting our executable strategies, software tips are an extremely valuable knowledge that belong to our PKM!

Of course, this information is not evergreen, so it does not have to be atomic. We are not going to concatenate it in arguments and writing projects.

It has to be clear, well-defined, split into easily managed steps, with pitfalls and alerts highlighted. It will not pollute our communication partner. It will make it more knowledgeable and helpful.

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All good points above. For me, evergreen applies to a finished missive or process and that it most likely will never change. Process or how-to notes like ones you indicate will probably change over time. You can make them more valuable by making them easily recalled. Create links to them and from them by how their used or hardware or software or client → in words that are meaningful for you. Some folks would keep notes like this in folders or tag them as well. The afor mentioned Tiago Forte also has a system or structure for this sort of work, it’s called PARA. IMHO - create links and continue to improve each note as the process changes or new tools or whatever you do to improve them. If you copy tidbits of info from web sources, consider them atomic but link notes to them with how you tailor that gleaned info into your processes. If you’re concerned about over-linking, get fluent with using the built in search capability and make use of Links to Headers and Blocks. Structure your notes with headers. Hope this helps. Cheers!

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For me, evergreen applies to a finished missive or process and that it most likely will never change.

Then it is not “evergreen” – the point of being evergreen is that it is subject to constant improvement.

See: Evergreen notes

The name almost certainly comes from “evergreen content” used in internet marketing – that set of undated articles that form the core of a website’s content and are periodically updated so they are always fresh.

If you are making a note static you may as well convert it to PDF and make it an artifact in your vault.

For @Tony2’s original use case, my zettelkasten is very targeted at knowledge digestion and knowledge development around my areas of interest and even there I have a Cheatsheets folder for things like git commands etc. Although I try to distill the important bits down to things that I actually use since I can just google to find the rest. For example, I don’t use all git commands so why would I copy part or all of a man page when I can just run it, or google it? Instead of copying entire articles I would probably link to the entry on StackOverflow or whatever. The point of a cheatsheet is to be a quick ref.

The files in that folder all have the name <whatever> Cheatsheet e.g. Git Cheatsheet so its clear during searches/etc what they are.

With respect, there is a subjective aspect to the definition and resulting intellectual debate “you say tomato”:slight_smile:

Sure, and I wasn’t trying to sound aggressively opinionated. Rather that this is not just my idea, its a pretty core idea in modern zettelkastening/digital “gardening”, which is where the entire concept originated. Andy Matuschak was the most likely originator of the term “evergreen note” and in his livestream he is editing evergreen notes to incorporate new knowledge.

So I mean, yeah, you certainly can use the term however you want, but keep in mind it will result in some misunderstandings and miscommunications because of your choice. Even with subjectivity there are generally accepted terms and meanings, and yours is very different from the norm.

Personally I would consider an “unchanging note” to be more like a published output, even if I’m the only one who will ever read it, and move it to a separate folder. That helps avoid confusion. But of course you are free to call them whatever you want, subject to the potential misunderstandings described above. ¯\_(́ ◡◝ )_/¯

(Technically I do this myself, with my “literature notes” being different from the norm, but I’m finding to an increasing degree this distinction is artificial and may not be adding value, and it adds to confusion in discussions when I try to explain it, so I’m experimenting with moving away from it and adopting the more standard definition instead – which is another reason I’m recommending you consider the potential for confusion, it is based on experience)

thank you for the replies. So I’d sum it up as:

  • it seems the common practice here is to use the “HowTo” notes (or “Cheatsheet”), either by putting them to a folder, or use a #howto tag
  • they need to be neither evergreen nor atomic nor densely linked, however they should be kept up-to-dated and easy to search
  • should be clear, well-defined, split into easily managed steps, with pitfalls and alerts highlighted