I am interested to know from someone who uses them, how it helps them with organization against my flat file system? Does my structure become unmanageable at some point?
moved to knowledge management
I use folders (partially)
I know for most people they are not needed and I can imagine may cause some friction in thought as it can be hard to let go of habitual thinking patterns. However, my situation is slightly different. Folders are very useful for my own personal situation.
I do for the most part not rely on folders. Obsidian’s search is brilliant. I also create tables of content and all the other general haul marks others use or adapt.
So folders may seem unnecessary, and they are for the most part. Except I am a survivor of a brain injury and as a result, I can and do have sudden memory loss, fog and other symptoms. This sometimes renders me unable to recall words in thought, names, follow the logic and so forth. When you also add in thousands of notes (as journalling is key to me remembering (not just changing my story) my vault gets messy, I can sometimes forget to add important things to a table of content and so forth. ( on that note I also have a folder where all notes that require adding to a TOC are placed until I add them to a TOC before dumping them in the general dump folder)
So my solution is I keep all my tables of content in a folder (and category subfolders) so no matter what I can keep on top of things and find things easily. I also have an “emergency folder” of key everyday things (including my guides to recovering my memory) in a top-level folder. So I really value folders for this.
I am also building a community project to publish and realise I need folders for this for other reasons on obsidian publish
I know I could star some of these but the star or favourite system doesn’t allow for as much order and categorising. Hope that helps with one perspective for folders.
Using folders is typically avoided because you waste time trying to decide where a particular file goes (categorizing it) and then what folder to look in when you need to find the note again. This is why Luhmann in part his analog note collection used an index.
But this isn’t a huge problem with a digital collection, especially within Obsidian, due to the universal search functionality. You also have the ability to easily link files between folders. I have experimented with both keeping my notes in distinct folders and keeping them all in a single folder. I haven’t 100% put my finger on why, but I prefer to use a collection of folders, typically being high level categories/fields of study that interest me. Than I have a generic folder labeled seedbox for any file that doesn’t easily fit in a folder. You could achieve the same objective through the use of tags but I instead use tags differently. Maybe that will change in the future.
I use the following layout:
Inside the 03_archive folder I then have folder for each year and in each of that folder a journal (for daily notes), articles (archived websites), resources (PDFs and images) and projects folder.
At the root of the vault I have all the notes that I created myself and are sort if ever green notes.
I do like the idea of 3 high level folders.
Many thanks for the thoughtful response. I will try some high level folders. Maintaining folders dampens my enthusiasm for using folder names as categories.
I am assuming you have written on how you are using tags differently, so can you link to it?
I see some using emojis in place of tags and then using tags for some other purpose. I get it’s extremely flexible, but I just want to get this awesome tool working friction-free without having to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.
I just use them for processing and organization, with tags such as # Elaborate, # Process, #Blank, #Further-Research, #Rewrite, #Connect. This could also be done with folders.
I did setup some folders. But I don’t really use them much, manually. I use hotkeys for Zettlekasten and Daily Notes, so those get automatically placed inside their folders.
I was implementing Tiago Forte’s P.A.R.A. system, so I tried to make 4 top level folders. Ended up with this:
- Archive - This is where I stuck all my old imported notes. If an old note becomes important, I might move it to Resources. But I mostly rely on search.
- Areas - I barely use this. But I keep a subfolder “Journal” in here for Daily Notes. I like keeping those separate.
- Meta - Templates and other technical stuff goes in here.
- People - I was starting to experiment with keeping a light CRM in Obsidian. I haven’t touched this in months.
- Projects - Major things I’m working on so get put in here. But honestly, I use Notion for most projects. All the notes in here have cobwebs…
- Resources - In PARA this is the default info dump of research. So default notes go in here.
Start Page - The only note that is not inside one of these folders. It’s a basic Map Of Content of my top used links.
Ultimately, I only really use Meta, Journal and Resources. I could easily delete all the other folders.
Nice workflow. I will use some of Tiago’s folder setup for processing. Thanks for sharing.
I started out using more folders but found that it was imposing structure on my notes rather than letting the structure emerge from my notes. So I moved everything into the root folder except for 3 types of notes/assets that I maintain in folders
- daily (all my daily notes)
- weekly (all my weekly review notes)
- attachments (all images, PDFs, etc)
- reference (any materials needed like mermaid docs, flatui colors, Markdown documentation)
- templates (all my templates to be included or used at note creation time)
- sources (all raw source notes downloaded using MarkDownload)
This effectively keeps some of the noise down in the main root directory as daily and weekly notes grow pretty quickly, and attachments aren’t directly viewed but rather in context of notes
One additional benefit of keeping everything in the vault root directory is that linking (mostly) works in 1Writer which is what I am currently using on iOS
If you use the relative path links in Obsidian they work in 1Writer as well.
This confirms what I have ruminating on, since finding out about Obsidian and it’s helpful community.
Personally I only folders as “buckets” to roughly group things, so that my vault doesn’t look too messy. Examples would be journals, templates, and literature notes. I still keep names unique, so moving things out of folders or into folders never break or update any links.
To me there’s not much “advantage” in using folders, mostly aesthetics and organizational benefits. I can totally live without them, but it’s a nice organizational feature of the file system so why not
I use my root folder to just put things, so I don’t have to think about where they go.
After that, I use folders for two reasons:
First, folders are a place to move files so they’re out of the way. For example, I don’t want to scroll past a bunch of daily notes looking for something important, so I stick all those in a separate folder.
Second, folders are a place to find specific things. For example, I collect workshop methods. I put all of those in a folder, so when I want to look up a method, or browse the ones I have, I can scan just that folder to see what’s there and don’t have to dig through un-related items.
This works for easier linking, too. I kind of follow Andy Matuschak’s approach to create evergreen notes. Notes that are “polished” enough, I move them to a separate folder (“Summaries”). This means that if I want to link to notes that are more polished than others, I can start the link with the double bracket and folder name, and the possible links list gets narrowed down.
It’s probably best to consider folders less as organization and more like a navigation option that helps you find things. Another option next to Pages and Tags.
Very useful. I have created a hybrid of members’ responses to this thread and come up with something that I think will work for my situation. I will post it once it’s done. Many thanks.
Advantages using folders is don’t use folders as folders.
It means use folder as a page and just this page can’t take notes in it.
It means use folder as a outliner .
I use root folder as page, and then use page as processes. not for classification. but use 2nd nested , 3rd nested “pages” …50 nested pages carefully for classfication
- folder as page
- page 1
- page 1.1
- page 2
- page 3
- page 1
It’s really simple ,no waste of time to think more on it
just change the concept : “folder as page” , without doing anyting else, keep folder as page to normal concept. Take it, keep it. Okay done, it’s good enough.
And most important thing is that Don’t Dont’t Don’t use the folder icon. (This way let obsidian looks like Evernote ) , Don’t do that.
BTW, if you really want or need ,must have folder icon, I also repect with you.
No more and no less. Everything else is folderless.
I refer to my past thoughts on this subject:
I use Obsidian to map information in the organisational and business domains.
I like to create and organise notes by ‘subject type’ - Person, Organisational Unit, Product, Project, Event and so on. I have about 10 of these high-level categories as folders.
Folders for Concept and Zettel capture the less easily-categorised notes.
I also have folders for Journal, Inbox and a couple of others.
Finding this structure is part of the knowledge work for me. I don’t find it awkward or cumbersome to use.
I also have a knowledge map in Roam which is more expansive and free form. That tool doesn’t permit folders, which suits me for the way I use it.
Folder system has the ability to share spaces among other documents in static site generator like Hugo and wiki system which has CLI like Gitbook. I’m thinking about publisher workflow with Obsidian publish, Hugo, and Zenn. This is the post about that flow on Zenn community, and the post was published from my private repository that was git pushed from Obsidian vault. All of my output contents exist in my vault and everything is densely linked like Evergreen notes. When I have a time, I’m going to write this in English on Forum. (But, Zenn is Japanese brand new publisher service, so it may not help others here)
Besides, I mainly use Folders to control notes’ status. For example, mu main vault has Fleeting, Permanent, Publish folders and Hugo repo and Zenn repo. When I want to turn something into an output content (posts for my personal site or posts for the publisher platform), I just put command “Move file to other Folder”. Then, I get a note to be ready to publish to various internet layers. (thanks to this, I can choose a desired layer to publish among my personal site, Obsidian publish and Zenn community.)