Can I use PKM for hobbies and crafts?

Hi everyone! I’m knew to the whole PKM scene and trying to wrap my mind around it. I’m also trying to figure out if PKM is even something that would benefit me.

In my research, most of the tutorials, guides and walk-throughs are heavily geared towards people who are interested in knowledge management–which makes sense! This seems to be such a new field that the people who are interested in using software to manage their knowledge would be interested in…knowledge management. Fair enough. However I’m wondering if this would benefit me as well.

I’m an amateur woodworker, even more of an amateur chef, and an intermediate film editor. Would Obsidian benefit me? It’s hard to see how these three things really overlap. I really do need a space where I can keep track of all the new things I learn, but I’m struggling to use Obsidian already. I really WANT to link ideas together but I’m having a hard time visualizing how its going to work ultimately.

Is this normal? Should I just jump and see what emerges?

Of course I"m sure I’ll be interested in all sorts of other things for the rest of my life. But right now I have a few broad interests that I would like to take notes on.

Thanks to everyone who has made a tutorial, guide or how-to on Obsidian. I’m really hoping I can make use of it.

Yes to both. I use Obsidian mostly for work (economic analysis) and personal development goals (journaling, personal goals and values). I have limited interest in PKM as a study itself - I just want the tools. I really struggled with the same problem you cite, and still do from time to time. I’ve started a few vaults from scratch as I realize problems I’ve built in by copying others methods too closely.

The problem with PKM - on Obsidian or anywhere else - is that most working examples tend to be of PKM texts. It’d be like if you went to a library and only saw books on dinosaurs, you might think it was impossible or unwise to write a book on romance. Or your first attempt at a romance novel might be very weird.

I suggest just diving in for a set period of time - 1-2 weeks - and then assess if there are patterns and habits, good and bad, that you want to tackle in a more deliberate way as you continue to take notes on your areas of interest.


One additional point on different topics: this is fine in a single vault, or separate vaults. If a single vault, there is no rule against having distinct and unlinked clouds of knowledge (e.g. carpentry vs film editing). I don’t even impose that all notes have links on their first draft - I may save that for a later review / refactor if I struggle to think of good links to start. Searching for older unlinked notes (orphans) is a useful activity later on. And even in totally unlinked vaults, Obsidian search function is very fast.

Oh wow I’m so happy someone had this same experience! I think this is largely to be expected with a field like this right? the early adopters are the ones that think about it the most!

Being a woodworker, its hard for me to get started on a project WITHOUT a plan so this is honestly very hard for me.

I’m going to take your advice and jump in to see what emerges. I really REALLY love the promise of PKM, but I think I need to break out of the idea that I need to follow a ‘model’, and more create my own.

I do think, at least for myself, keeping everything in ONE vault is the way I want to go. I really want to see if there are overlapping concepts that emerge.

One thing that just struck me as I’ve been reading this is that I perhaps I need to stop thinking in NOUNS overlapping (wood types, different spices, or a certain editor) and start thinking about how the VERBS overlap (Measurements, design, experimentation).

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I agree, and this was the source of one of my restarted vaults (to merge a few others). A bigger reason for me is to lower the mental cost of a new note. What if one of my note ideas overlaps vaults? Better to keep them all in one place to avoid duplication or silos, and then use links to stress connections (or their absence otherwise).

The main thing I would emphasize during your early days is to commit to write a few distinct notes a day (in addition to any daily journaling). They may feel like garbage at times, but the exercise will help you understand what format and habits work best for you.

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Completely agree with @icebear -

I use one vault for everything. I have areas for hobbies, including my own thoughts and resources, my zettellkasten and then just knowledge/helpful information for work. The part that has my work-based stuff has nothing to do with (and no connection to) my personal zettelkasten or my hobbies. I use tags to help sort my personal zettelkasten and then use index pages to sort the rest of my stuff.

The beauty of Obsidian is that you can make it work however you want.

I would just start making notes on whatever you want. Over time, you will naturally start to create a structure that works for your flow.


As someone who used and tried way too many tools… you could also rethink whats your usecase and needs, and if obsidian would be the best for it. For example i used evernote a lot some years back, and if my needs were the same today i would still be mainly using it (i still use it for captures tough). Even digging deeper and deeper with obsidian i still use Notion a lot, as Notion gives me structure and some practical tools that obsidian lacks.

From my perspective Obsidian, roam and similares are best for whoever wants to connect many ideas, studies in different fields where overlap happens (or a broad and complex one) or who like to process their insights on everything (articles, books, etc). Even to whom is more focused on introspective tought this sort of linking and flow is amazing… but in no way the only way to do it.

So for example, if theres little to no overlap in your interests, if you mostly save content (instead of comparing and writing a lot yourself) then Notion or even evernote could be more practical. Both allow hyperlinking (Notion now have backlinking as well).

Im only saying that because, first theres no perfect tool (and none that fits every need), and second because Obsidian lacks a lot in terms of structure (Roam even more); They follow a specific filosophy of making links above everything, wich is great but demands upkeeping, some planing… depending on what you want from it quite a bit of work before things get smooth.

I think quite a lot of people get lost in what the tool can do (and trying to make it do more) and lose some perspective in the process. For instance, theres some amazing articles and videos on how to make good moc (map of contents- like indexes) in obsidian, and theres many great uses for then- but just the time it takes to figure it out, and the time it takes to make and upkeep then… it makes sense for some people and uses, but for most they would do good with a simple tree-structured index or just tags and theyre just taking the longer harder way.

My advice is to try different tools, really try, but dont invest too much in each (otherwise you run the risk of investment bias- the more content/work something takes the harder it is for someone to give up on it, even when they would benefit from doing so). That btw happened to me and evernote, when i insisted on using evernote for way more then it was good for and that kept me away from trying different things.

For example i was divided between notion and obsidian… so i kept using both a bit, without caring much about ‘‘creating the perfect system’’ (too early to project that); That made me realize what i liked and disliked in each, what worked best for me…

In my case obsidian is my drafts and freeflowing toughts tool. What some experts call evergreen notes or upper-level ideas is the kind of stuff i do outside of obsidian, some years ago in tiddlywiki, now i do that in Notion. For me obsidian has been useful as a reference, where i clash different snippets, toughts and references against one another without caring much about order; Then when i go plan something or write something i do it in a structured way elsewhere with obsidian one alt+tab away.

PS: i also believe these tools mesh well or worse with people depending on their personality; For example at school i remenber being envy of who had good organization and notebooks, everything at their place… that sort of person id think would do better at Notion- they would have the patience of organizing it (and linking things, it takes longer there). For me that is harder, i like to type as fast as i think, and making links in Obsidian is quicker so that is what drives me to it (despite the markdown, god i hate markdown)