Coming From Evernote - Obsidian Offers a New Way of Looking at Things

A few months ago I tried to go all in with Obsidian after exporting my Evernote Notes as markdown files. I was quickly overwhelmed, and I didn’t find it particularly helpful to open Obsidian each day and be met with the bog of what was my previous Evernote account. I quickly retreated and have been using Evernote (mostly happily) since then, but I’m back.

I realized a few things which set me up for my current “run”, and I thought this may help some aspiring EN–>Obs people.

  1. Is what you have in EN really that important? I’m sure a lot is, but if you go through your account with a critical eye, I bet you can pair things down significantly. For example, why was I keeping an airline confirmation clipping from 2015? I also found some instruction manuals that are PDF’s and easily moved to OneDrive (or insert your fav here). Additionally, business cards for people who are no longer in business, medical documents that should be somewhere more private, and photos that are better served in my photos app.

  2. Evernote is a place to house things, not to think. I can thank the likes of Nick Milo and Mike Schmitz/David Sparks for this insight. It’s such a good app for capturing things. You can clip, email, screenshot – there’s really no end to the incredibly fast ways to pile stuff into the service. But for all my “saving”, I rarely, if ever, looked back at things or worked my way through them again. There’s a difference between thinking and hoarding things “just in case”.

With that in mind, I devised a plan moving forward.

I’m using Apple Notes for storing quick, unimportant notes like some household reference notes (e.g. how my home theatre wiring works in the basement) and for quick things I need to track on the fly. This now consists of about 200 notes where it used to be about 600 notes in EN.

For thinking, goal setting, taking notes on shows/podcasts/books or jotting down thoughts, I’m now using Obsidian for work and personal use (with a vault for each).

YMMV, but for me, I need to break the habit of "oh, that could be useful someday ". I’m trying an entirely new approach which is files go in OneDrive, quick notes/reference of little consequence can go in Apple Notes, and my more in-depth thoughts can hit the markdown-happy land of Obsidian.

Even if you don’t use Obsidian (though if that’s the case, why are you here!) or you hate Evernote or whatever – sometimes it’s useful to think about the way you’re using these tools. Why do you save so much? Do you reference things a lot? Do you NEED to do it the way you’ve been doing it?

Looking at things from a different point of view has been a major help for me, and while I’m sure I’m going to encounter some “oh god, this needs Evernote!” moments, I think I’ll be better off if I can put the habit of digital hoarding into a file cabinet behind me.

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Interesting thoughts. 7 years ago I got into note-taking where I had none before. At the time Evernote was THE go-to note-taking app, so hey, why not.

Thinking back, what is striking that Evernote explicitly encourages users to dump anything and everything in there, and on the EN forums people were proud to say “I have 10,000 notes” or whatever humongous number they had. Initially I was impressed by that, but soon I realized it is an absolutely meaningless metric because what really counts, as far as I am concerned, are quality and usefulness of notes.

1 thing that struck me when you said “This now consists of about 200 notes where it used to be about 600 notes in EN”, is that changing app often forces you to do a (thorough) clean-out of notes. You achieved that, be careful of renewed pollution.

I left EN after 2 years, drifted to various note-taking apps without full satisfaction. At the same time I got into markdown, which I embraced and am happy to have done so. Eventually I stumbled on Obsidian (May last year) and had that “yes, this may well be it” moment. Ever since, Obsidian has grown from strength to strength with an amazing dev couple and an amazing community.

I still sometimes look at other note-taking apps, as it interests me, but I find nothing is as good and pleasurable as Obs.

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