How are you using Daily Notes?

I love the idea of daily notes, and when I was playing with Roam, I made a lot of use out of them. But it hasn’t quite clicked for me in the same way in Obsidian.

I was initially cautious about it because I didn’t want to junk up my database. But now we have filtering that might not be quite the issue that it was. ¯\(ツ)

Anyways, I’m interested in making it a habit, but I’m curious about how different users are using daily notes in Obsidian. What is working, what hasn’t worked, what is there to be cautious about?

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I use a template that is simply:
# {{date}}

#daily

I fill in the gaps in between. Daily notes are a catch-all for me - they can include my own summaries/analysis of interesting articles, simply links to articles that may be interesting later with a few copied highlights, or the beginning musings of rough drafts of “real” notes (even as short as a simple questions to look into further). I try to review daily notes once per week, but otherwise don’t worry about their longevity, with the assumption that whatever has merit will be converted into something more durable.

The key point for me is the #daily tag, which allows for easy filtering out of the graph and search.

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Thanks! Do you keep them mixed in with the other notes or do you have a separate folder?

I was using daily notes like other notes, but in one of my project related vaults, I have recently started experimenting with each day moving the entire previous day’s daily note content into the current daily note.

Also, I have been copying the current daily note’s title and pasting it at the top of the daily note. I have these set as checkbox lists and indent the actual tasks, making the whole day foldable. Directly below the checkboxed date, I have an indented checkbox called done. And after “done”, at the same indented level, I have one called “do”.

Within “do” I have an indented listed of task checkboxes. Some tasks which have sub steps require further nesting of checkbox items.

As I finish the top items in “do” I move them up into done, of course after the joy of checking the box. Using swap line up hotkey is nice. I find that it feels good to see all the finished tasks in sequence under done. This also makes moving the whole “do” section on the following day easy. It’s good to know that you can use shift down to select the lines one by one, then use swap line up hotkey to move selection as a whole.

I used to do a lot of linking and record keeping for this particular project, within the daily notes, but got tired of digging up previous days.

Having the entire record accessible by pressing daily note hotkey then unfolding as needed has been working for me lately.

Good idea for a topic. Thanks.

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I only have 2 folders in my “Professional” vault - Notes and Sources.

All new notes are automatically placed in “Notes,” including all of my daily notes and “evergreen” notes. I find this reduces the decision anxiety of “what folder does this go into” or “my inbox is filling up rapidly to unmanageable levels.” I tag my #daily notes so that it is easy to filter them out or focus on them, if desired. I (try to) use link any orphan evergreen notes within MOCs or other notes, although am not so strict about this - I’ve found the search tool to be highly efficient in finding what I need, which has relieved the urge to link everything immediately.

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I do something similar to your “do” and “done” topics, although less explicitly - anything above the line break in my daily note indicates I’ve already read the item, gathered highlights and written a summary, etc. Anything below the break, which is just a simple link, indicates I haven’t done anything yet, and is copied over into a “backlog” note which I’ll view if I’m out of things to do and want to quickly dive in to something I flagged in the past.

Honestly, though, once something enters the backlog it will probably just stay there - which is kind of the point. “backlog” could be renamed to “not important enough to warrant work within even the daily note” which itself is a pretty low threshold. But moving those things along is useful in reducing mental clutter.

I do prefer to keep the daily note structure, rather than all together, as this can help with referencing. E.g. I may link to [[2020-10-29#Europe locks down amidst second COVID19 wave]] which itself may include a few links to related news articles and my personal summary/highlights of the issue. If I link this in my evergreen notes elsewhere, it will be clear from the link what the time and topic is even without transcluding it.

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Very true.

I tend to overdo things to the point they often overwhelm rather than help me. So my instinct tells me to overly declutter with options to revert to complexity and slowly transition into it for a purpose. Of course, occasionally I can’t resist and dive deep into systems and logic that make my head spin. But it isn’t sustainable.

Your comment made me realize that I may want to start peppering in headers within the folds of daily task lists to try to preemptively build some linkable structure and avoid having to search for importance later.

Thanks.

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I very much identify with the temptation to create complex systems; at least far more complex than I’ll ever truly leverage.

@icebear Thanks for the tip on adding headers because I definitely didn’t know you could link directly to them! Knowing that, I’ve updated the template for my daily note at work:

### {{date:dddd}} {{date:M/D}}
This makes up a portion of [[{{date:YYYY MMMM}}]]

#### Todo
- [ ] Hiya, Buddy!

---
#### Things that happened
- An occurrence or event

#### TIL
- Something I learned or of which I was informed

I’m still figuring out where it fits (or if it even does fit) into my workflow given I’ve been using Obsidian about 2 weeks now. It doesn’t sit quite right with me to have TODOs spread out or duplicated between Obsidian and Todoist, but I really like ticking off the box on my landing page for the day.
Todos that don’t get completed on the day of remain unchecked and are copied over the next day - which is another thing I’m not too much a fan of.

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One suggestion to reduce the complication of transferring todo’s from note to note: saved search for “- [ ]”, which you can then sort the results of by time modified/created, and make your way through past daily notes with incomplete actions to address or delete.

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You mentioned Todoist so I figure you will be interested in this thread:

It is what will become known as a “legacy plugin” since it is not (yet) using the new API available with the insider release at the moment. But that just means the installation process is a little more involved. It looks that good I just about tried out Todoist for the first time, but I refrained! :sweat_smile:

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That’s a good idea! Thanks for the feedback.

Heeeeeck, yes! I really appreciate you sharing; this will make things much, much more streamlined.

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I basically primarily use it for a calendar. Every morning, I go into my work calendar and type it into the daily note in the format:

time - [[customer]] - [[name of meeting]]

So an example would be:

8:00 - [[KevinR]] - [[KevinR - D5 - Standing meeting]]

Then for each “routine meeting”, I just put the date at the top and write notes for the current meeting in the same page. Then I’ve got a timeline of all the notes from that meeting and previous incarnations.

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I use my daily notes as a catch all record of my day, but with a concentration on work activities. I use the daily note plugin to provide time stamp as the name. I have a text expander snippet to to add the previous days date with cursor positioned to finish the link to that daily note. I then add today’s not link to the previous day note for navigation purposes through daily notes (I got this idea on the forums but forgot who suggested that. Apologies for not remembering and giving credit where credit is do). The text expander snippet also adds a #dailynote and #process tab. #dailynote is for categorization and the #process signifies that I need to come back (usually weekly review) and process this note.

The next major use is for work meetings. I have a text expander snippet to set up a meeting header and formatting for placement of my first meeting. I then fill out my meetings for the day with title and time in header. Notes are taking below with appropriate keywords/link added throughout the note. I do have some meetings which are more in-depth that require a lot of note taking for capturing new materials or presentation items. Those are linked out from this daily note to its on note and tagged as a meeting and a #process tag, but operates sort of as a literature note to be processed at a later time.

I also, utilize a #todo to items that need to be tasked out in my task manager, either MSFT ToDo or Azure DevOps. These can be processed during processing period or individually as I see fit. I use the block reference to the #todo tag location and save it to the task. That way if I need to navigate to the original mention of the task I can go to that location by searching the unique id.

The second area, outside of my work notes, is the Activities section. This is where I capture important knowledge base items I do throughout the day. Books or articles being read, YouTube videos watched, work items being performed. These serve mainly as just activity captures. If I want to fully process and dive in-depth on something I make a literature note. I just make the item listed as a link and click to make note. I have a TextExpander that fills out metadata that I want to add and then proceed as with any literature note. I also will make permanent notes from either of the two main buckets on the daily note also.

So, that is my use and processes for the daily note. I don’t have a full fledged zettelkasten setup as one can see from the above. However, it is a more hybrid system. This has all been made possible by #obsidian. I love this tool and its functionality. It really help consolidate and streamline my workflows.

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Daily Notes + Block IDs could be useful for creating “Fleeting Notes” or notes that you take for any content you want to be reminded in future.

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Couple additional thoughts on this for those following along -

  • If you’re looking for a TextExpander utility on Windows that’s Open Source to try this out, I’ve tested out a few and Beeftext works really well.
  • I have started doing templates for my daily page and meetings using text expansion after reading Jeff’s usage. I haven’t used block tags yet, but I’m a relative noob.
  • Rather than a tag for todo, I use [ ] (per markdown spec) - you can surface those through a shared search ("[ ]"), and I’ll apply metadata when I move them to a different task manager (Outlook or AzDO). So [X] means complete, [<-] means moved into a different task manager. It saves me from having to remove tasks and I can also search on completed tasks, or migrated tasks.
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I like your idea for the arrow in the [ ] to signify an action on that task. I remove the #ToDo tag and have not knowledge it was even a task or not. Will implement that. Thanks.

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When I do “Insert template” command, the {{date}} placeholder is replaced with the actual date, but this doesn’t happen when the daily note is created when clicking “Open today’s note”. Is there any way around that?

The daily note template needs the exact format specified for some reason, if you add the placeholder in your daily note template like this it will work:

After changing my daily note template for the millionth time, I simply leave it as a blank page — no friction, no pressure.

I begin my day by reading the lectionary and the saints of the day. This almost always inspires the creation of a note that, while it may not be permanent, is more substantive than a daily or fleeting note.

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