Planning to plan

I hope it’s appropriate to ask about things not logseq specific.

My attempts at planning are pretty bad, regardless of technology. For years I would try to visualize a tree of related concepts and I would get trapped going down some rabbit hole, or not remembering concepts that belong near each other.

Zettelkasten method seemed wonderful because it gets around trying to manipulate a top-down tree.

Similar to my problems visualizing trees, I don’t formally plan, or briefly plan then stop, because of a similar problem related to scale. I can’t see all of what is plannable and any choice I make is lilkely to be wrong after I think about it. So, how can I trick myself into developing a plan?

If I ask myself what is important, I reflect on that from a perspective that is inappropriate. I will want to say that things that sound good are what is important. Similarly, I will overlook some interests because they don’t look good and tend to make plans I won’t keep because of their tedium.

There are reasons why I choose something as a priority. Grouping by related concept might not be appropriate compared to grouping by reason.

It seems like it might be more likely that I will plan if my plan is flexible and is likely to lead me into interesting situations rather than being a specific goal. For example, if I schedule time to do some programming thing, it could lead to me feeling happier and more motivated about other things.

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I guess it’s ok, just:

  • Keep it contained within a limited number of sequential threads.
    • Don’t spam the forum with multiple of them going on in parallel.
  • Don’t expect many responses (or any at all).

Just to clear up that there is no planning technology, only technology that facilitates your own planning.

  • A wrong but educated choice is:
    • better than no choice
    • sometimes better than a right but uneducated choice
  • Moreover, most choices are not black-or-white.
  • Cannot trick it into doing anything.
    • Although can trick it into believing anything, e.g. that you tricked it.
  • But (for short times) can force it.
  • A flexible plan is NOT a plan.
    • A plan can have multiple planned branches, but each one of them should be rigid.
      • Rigid enough for someone else (or a computer) to follow.

Below is the essence of many books on planning (for free).

  • Plan for something easy (simple, small, short, feasible etc.)
    • It should be small enough that it doesn’t get tedious.
      • Maybe how to go from one point to another.
      • Maybe just a linear plan of 3 steps.
    • It should be rigid.
      • In other words, it should be a plan, not a sketch.
  • Write down the plan, no matter how small.
    • Writing helps with making it rigid.
    • Seeing it written helps a lot brain’s visualization.
    • Use an outliner like Logseq (here, I made it Logseq-specific).
  • Also write down alternative and even inferior plans for the same thing.
    • It is important to understand why one plan is better than another.
      • This is one of the reasons that planning is beneficial at all.
  • Choose and apply a plan.
    • Don’t stay forever to the planning phase.
    • It doesn’t need to be perfect.
      • A feasible plan is better than an ideal but infeasible one.
      • Sometimes there is no perfect plan to be discovered in first place.
    • Stick to it, avoid changing it if not absolutely necessary.
  • Experience how it is to arrive where you planned from the path that you planned.
    • Experience adds information that is impossible to acquire through planning.
  • Receive congratulations.
    • For specific things, not random positive words.
    • By someone else, if possible.
      • This can give a psychological boost.
    • By yourself.
      • It is important to recognize both your successes and failures.
    • For your effort, not for the result.
      • Even when picking easy things, you may still fail, but that doesn’t reduce at all the value of the effort.
  • After a failure, try again.
    • But ponder on it and adjust the plan, don’t waste your failures.
  • After a success, move forward by trying something a little harder.
    • It should still be easy, just less easy than the previous one.
      • The mind builds complex paths only when it is challenged.
    • Can still plan easier things as well, just don’t expect progress by them.
      • Many easy things can add-up to a long easy thing, not to a hard thing.
    • At times there is no step ahead and a leap is needed.
      • It shouldn’t be bigger than needed.
      • Scaling needs a plan in itself, it doesn’t happen by itself.
  • As you do this more times (not as time passes):
    • You will find yourself trying, succeeding with, and benefitting from plans harder than you ever imagined that you are capable of even attempting.
    • Some of the things that initially looked repulsive, will start looking interesting.
  • Move at your own pace.
    • Don’t compare to others, we are all different.
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Thanks. Those look like useful ideas when I know what to plan, but it doesn’t address the main issue which is creating plans when you can’t keep all details in you head. Zettelkasten helps with that problem by not being organized top down. Connections are discovered over time.

Solutions to this sort of thing where you can’t wrap your head around a problem often allow the person to discover what they need. They trick themselves into arriving at a solution, by constructing a scenario in which they will discover what they need to know. Planning to read about a subject is a more flexible plan than deciding on a course of action.

Might find value in writing things down. A brain is not suited for creating overview. Or keeping up with all the little details.
Just dump it all on a page. It doesn’t need to be organized, it just needs to be easily accessible and organizable later.
As you mention Zettelkasten, you might want to consider its original implementation, index cards. They are physical and small, easy to rearrange on the fly. Much easier than digital tools.
As you practice and get a better idea of what works for you in terms of plans, you can make it more formal.
But getting started and not being perfect is better than never starting, because you are unsure of where to start. Start in the middle or at the end, that’s fine too.


I’ll have to try that I guess. My fear is about reorganizing the graph. If I had to recreate many cards I would not like that.

What has happened for decades is that what I’m thinking about at the moment seems important. So, I’ll spend hours or days filling out connections only to realize that my perspective is warped and I’ve inappropriately prioritized things. Each time that happens, I get discouraged, and give up. As a result I am still yet to create a broad plan after trying repeatedly, throughout my life.

I would like to be able to judge the health of my graph while I’m creating it so that I know when change is needed. If I can tell that I’m being overly ambitious and committing to things that will leave me feeling exhausted, I can adjust priorities to include things that are good for my morale.

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One of the famous users of zettelkasting, Ludwig Wittgenstein used it to map Language. He suggests that language is not organized as a hierarchy or a tree.
So you need a map in many dimension. The first digital attempt was The Brain If you want to make a map, you need to make posts and link them forwards and backwards. I can recommend using the idea called “working definitions” as well. A concept is only defined as a part of an area of knowledge.
Wittgenstein would say that word do not have any absolute definition. It only get its meaning from its use in a specific context or area of knowledge.

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