Asking for suggestion to get started with PKM using Obsidian

Dear community,

I am new to Obsidian and have done the initial setup to get started, thanks to many useful guides from the Obsidian community, especially the YouTube series by @nickmilo.

Now I would like to have some guidelines to build my PKM in Obsidian so that it will be useful and joyful to work with. In the past I used various tools (TiddlyWiki, SimpleNote, vim-notes), mainly to record things that I don’t want to forget. But over the time it’s getting messy and less useful, a common problem for many of us.

I understand that a PKM strategy is very personal, and there is no single best way for everyone. I am a software developer and system administrator. I use PKM mainly to keep track of things that I work on. The topics vary a lot, from a quick note about how I fixed some small problem on a server, to a long dive into some topic in software development. I have been using mainly tag + global text search to organize and navigate/search my notes. But I always feel it’s not right, I expect it to help me more.

So I’d like to ask for suggestion/ recommendation from the experienced. I am trying not to spend too much time/effort on over-optimizing my notes; instead I am trying to find the 20/80 sweet spot: try to focus on a few practices that are most efficient and start using them.

Thanks in advance for any hint.

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Welcome to the community, I will like to add some, from my experience;
You can

  • Set up a Johnny decimal styled workflow,
  • You can add ranges of numbers before your note name.
  • Now how does this help? It’s simple. You assign these numbers to specific topics.Like you may assign 100 to Biology (in my case) and all the sub topics or notes or information you come across that relates to biology, you write it under the 100 category like this;
    100 Biology
    100.1 Classification
    100.1.1 Naming
    100.1.2 Geographical Classification
    100.2 Anatomy

etc. you get the point.

  • Now don’t worry about forgetting these numbers, I suppose you know that we can move around notes in obsidian to our preference. you can just make a new note: write down the classification (the numbers and their respective topics) on a broader level; Which means don’t write down every small thought which you make notes about in this note. Just write down broader topics and their indexes inside this note. You can name this note OBSIDIAN INDEX. Now just drag the note and put it towards the far right or far left of your Obsidian view. This way this is always open. You can always quickly add the index to a new topic you Started to dive into.

  • Why keep the indexes? It’s because when in far future you need to search for topics that relate to biology, you just search it on the search bar by putting 100 in the search and the search will open all the notes containing 100 in front of their names.If you want to be more specific, you can just type 100.1 and Obsidian will show you every thing about your Classification notes as I showed above.

  • Now as the basics are covered, I would like to tell you my way of making a Home page. Get creative inside your homepage, but keep in mind that it should be encouraging. If you open it you should see the broader areas of your life in Bold letters and the topics and sub categories are under them in links.

  • You can draw inspiration from our Intellectual community by going into their published vaults and seeing their take on PKM The All Obsidian-Publish(s) Collection by Leo, Latest Update: 20210324

  • Finally I don’t want to confuse you so I will share some screenshots of my system. I hope I was of some Help to you for showing you how you can diversify your system.

  • IF you are wondering what is that 21 degree centigrade mark, it is the Weather report I have embedded from Meteoblue. Just go to Meteoblue’s Website and configure your Weather widget and paste the whole iframe inside your note (I prefer Home Note). You can also embed a clock inside your Notes. I like to embed the clock on top of the index note.


I switched most of my PKM and workflow to Obsidian last year. Three months in, I wrote a series of 6 postings describing my usage 100 Days in Obsidian, Pt. 1 – Interdependent Thoughts . Maybe you’ll find something of use in there.

I haven’t yet decided that the Johnny Decimal, or indeed any numbering, is necessary for mine. I just have several sections in my index related to different large areas of my life and then sub-indexes for those. It works for me. I also have daily notes that I use when I want to. I will use backlinks and searches to deal with the rest. But that’s me. Build what seems right and go from there. I know that’s probably less than helpful, but it’s what works for many.

thank you for the responses, very informative and helpful.

I didn’t know about the Johnny Decimal structure, and after a quick read I feel this is a useful thing for me: very little effort to implement, and the benefit is instant and keep increasing with each added note.

The posts by @ton are great, a bit overwhelming for me but I will keep coming back when I gain more experience. As of now, the classification of note types to Notions, Notes, Ideas and work notes is something I can start using right away. Perhaps I will tag to record note type.

Beside the Johny Decimal structure I also plan to keep a folder for daily notes.

Hey, I just happend to finish the translation for my blog post on how I organize my files in Obsidian. Hope it helps! Not a native speaker so please forgive any stupid mistake in terms of language. :wink:

Organize notes in Obsidian – my workflow

(Also, my main blog is in German but I am in the process of translating my most important posts.)

thank you, I enjoy reading your post very much. I already started putting my notes to the folder structure similar to Johnny Decimal, but quickly realized that it’s too rigid and creates friction. Your post with concrete real-world examples is really helpful.

Can you please show some concrete examples how the category notes look like? In the post I could see there is a note @curiousMinds, is that a category note?

You’re welcome. Glad you like it! And yes exactly. @curiousMinds is everything regarding my newsletter. Other examples would be @booknote for notes on a book‘s content, @PhD is for my - you guessed it - phd, @fragment would be for a note which is not yet finished and so on… Does this shed light in the issue?

so you have 1 single note named @booknote in folder 5 Categories, which contains all notes about the book(s) you are reading? And then later on you would extract the relevant notes about a book to a separate note and move it to 11 Notes?

Not quite. @booknote is an empty note and it is just via the backlinks that I connect book notes. I write a book note and tag it with @booknotes. Now I am able to open @booknotes, look at the backlinks section and see all notes with this particular category. Additionally, it is easily searchable.

so it’s similar to the topic pages in your post, except that the name of the topic has a special prefix @ to denote it’s a category?

Is it possible to add a few concrete examples to your post to show how the category notes and topic pages look like? I am sure it’s trivial/obvious to you and people who are experienced with notes taking. But for a newcomer like me it would be a great help.

Exactly this. And thank you for your suggestion! I’ll add a couple of more examples in the next day. Sometimes you just don’t know what others might find unclear, so this kind of feedback is massively helpful!