My Obsidian Setup - Mar 2021
I have been using Obsidian as my personal knowledge management (PKM) system for the last number of months.
I, like many people, was hesitant to jump ship from tools like Notion or Evernote but after much deliberation at the time, I’m glad I decided to start using it.
Just as an aside here, I didn’t stop using Notion completely. In fact, I think I’ve established an effective system using both applications but that’s a topic for another time.
In this article, I’d like to share with you my current Obsidian Setup. Hopefully, it will provide you with some inspiration for your own.
Before I dive into things, I want to share some technical details about my setup with you just in case you’re wondering how it’s all configured.
Firstly, I have my Obsidian vault stored on Google Drive. This allows me to look at files on my laptop, on my phone, or on my tablet.
I typically only write in Obsidian when I’m on my laptop but I still find it useful to be able to view a file on my phone.
The second thing to note is that I am also syncing my Obsidian vault to GitHub.
Honestly, it may seem a bit redundant to do both a Drive and GitHub storage system but I like the added security of having multiple backups of my files.
I manually sync my files to GitHub the old-fashioned way but I believe there’s now an Obsidian Sync plugin you can use to do this automatically.
I have created various directories to roughly organize my files inside of Obsidian.
This structure has evolved over time and I’m conscious of trying to keep it as simple as possible.
Let’s look at each of these directories and talk about what types of content go into each one.
The inbox is where random thoughts or ideas go as they crop up.
If something isn’t quite enough to become an Evergreen note and requires further research, then it will go in here.
I like making use of an inbox system to store my thoughts and ideas as they come into my head.
This makes it easy to get things off of my mind so I can focus on other work.
If you’re interested in reading more on the benefits of an Inbox system, I highly recommend you read this article I wrote: Having Inboxes To Manage Your Thoughts And Ideas.
In most cases, the notes in the Inbox will turn into one of the following:
- A Research Topic item in Todoist - something to be researched further
- A Writing Topic item in Todoist - an idea for an article
- A general task or something to do in Todoist
- An Evergreen note in Obsidian
- Goes into the trash as it’s no longer relevant
As an aside here, I use Todoist as my task management app.
If you’d like to learn more about how I’ve configured Todoist as a UI designer, why not check out this article I wrote: How A UI Designer Uses Todoist.
The incubation directory stores notes and ideas that require further research.
These often relate to topics I would like to eventually turn into an article on my website.
These notes will serve as a starting point for my writing when I’ve decided to write an article on that subject.
Once I’ve made use of these notes and fleshed them out, they will move into the Evergreen directory which we’ll talk about shortly.
The literature directory stores all of my notes on articles, books, podcasts, and videos.
So essentially any type of content I’m consuming goes here.
I have different templates I make use of for each type of content.
This allows me to easily capture all of the metadata I need so I can then start writing out my notes.
The key thing with these literature notes is they are written in my own words and not directly copied and pasted from the source material.
By doing this I can only capture what I believe are the most important ideas and concepts.
This also allows me to more effectively remember the things I read, watch, and listen to.
The literature directory is one of the concepts that I’ve emulated from the book How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Zettelkasten or would like to learn more about it, I highly recommend you read this book.
I’ve also published my book notes on this book if you’d like to read those as well.
You can find those notes here: How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens - Book Notes, Summary, Review
The evergreen directory stores my evergreen or permanent notes.
Essentially these are atomic ideas or concepts that I have synthesized from my literature notes.
I have a simple evergreen note template that I make use of to ensure my notes are consistently laid out. This helps me to find information easily.
I link to the source of the note at the bottom to make sure I can easily find my way back to the original source for more context should I need it.
The key feature of these evergreen notes is that I am able to link to other evergreen notes.
This allows me to build up connections between topics or ideas that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought about when writing or researching in a more traditional linear way.
As a result, these are without a doubt the most powerful and useful notes in my PKM system.
I can use them to write better articles and they help me to learn new concepts more effectively.
As you may have already guessed, this is another concept that has been emulated from the book How To Take Smart Notes.
The content creation directory is the newest addition to my Obsidian setup.
I’ve started trying out my content creation system in Obsidian to see if it can be migrated from my current setup in Notion so this is still a work in progress.
This directory contains detail relevant to my blog articles.
I don’t store the fully written blog article here, that’s in another system, but each note will store the relevant metadata for each article.
I also store my content creation checklist on each note so I can work through my content creation process for each article.
If you’d like to learn more about my Content Creation process as it exists in Notion, you can purchase my Notion templates pack here: Notion Templates Pack - Gumroad
The resources directory is used to store notes that aren’t literature or evergreen notes.
Currently, this is where I store guides, lists, and workflows.
Some of the guides I have here include:
- How to solve a Rubik’s cube (learn more about why I enjoy solving the Rubik’s cube so much here: Can A Rubik’s Cube Help With Your Focus?
- Audio production notes for settings I use when working on audio
- Video production notes for settings I use when working on video
- A guide on creating child themes in WordPress.
Some of the lists I have include:
- Gift ideas for others. I keep this so I can remember things to buy for family members for birthdays and Christmas.
- Computer resources - different apps and browser extensions I use. This makes life a lot easier when setting up a new computer.
I also like to create workflow diagrams to outline my different work processes.
For example, I talked about my content creation workflow in my article My Writing Workflow For Content Creation.
I also have a knowledge management workflow which I wrote an article about describing how I built it: How To Build A Knowledge Management Flow Diagram In Obsidian Using Mermaid
The people directory stores people, obviously enough.
Each person has their own note so I can link a person to their book or their article.
That way I can cross-reference people with their work to find similar content.
I name people with the format @name so I can easily identify them as people.
It might seem a bit unnecessary I’ll admit but it works for me!
This is an Obsidian convention/feature for where attachments like images are stored.
As I’m writing this I only have one attachment in here and it’s the Eisenhower Matrix.
I don’t really use images in Obsidian right now but I’m looking forward to figuring it all out.
The daily notes directory is another Obsidian feature where you store your daily notes.
I create a daily note at the start of each day and create my new notes from within that page. That way I can link my notes with the date they were created or worked on.
I’ve yet to use this date linkage in any meaningful way but I’m used to the process so I’ll continue with this for now.
The templates directory has become very useful as I’ve built up various note type templates.
If you make use of the default templates plugin that’s build into Obsidian, you can easily add a template to a page with a hotkey like Ctrl + T.
Here are some of the templates I currently have:
- Evergreen note template
- Article literature note template
- Book literature note template
- Video literature note template
- Content creation article template
- Content creation article checklist template
- Content creation video template
There’s one last thing I want to share with you before the end of this article and that’s my Index file.
This file contains a brief outline of the structure of my Obsidian vault that I’ve discussed here as well as detailing the different tags I use and naming conventions of notes.
Having an index file like this is very useful to have, especially if you’re improving your system over time as it acts as a reference file.
You can easily refer to it if you’re trying to remember which tag to use or where a note goes.
I hope you found this article helpful and inspirational for your own Obsidian setup.
The key is to develop a system that works for you as there is no one right way to do things.
If something I’ve talked about seems like a good idea to you, just adopt that part into your system and see how it works over time.
It’s all about trial and error.
If you found some value in reading this article all the way to the end, please consider sharing it on social media. It will help others to find it and that would really help me out.