How do you handle tasks in Obsidian?

Wouldn’t transcluding the completed Items on the daily get confusing. or are you transcluding only a single line item out of the project?
Right now I transclude the projects active todos to the daily, but I manually copy the completed todo to the daily in a completed section. I also add a date to the project’s completed todo line so that I know when it was completed.
I am still fine tuning obviously.

You actually got me thinking now. Thanks!

I’m playing around with using Obsidian as a task manager, and here I am at the end of the day and I got a lot done. Now I want to archive those Xed-off tasks, perhaps by bunching them all together at the bottom of the document, as Taskpaper does.

How can I do that easily, without manually cut-and-pasting each item – which it appears is what one or two of you are doing.

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I don’t do tasks in Obsidian. I tried it when I started here but found that much of my task workflow involved too much manual copy/pasting or including/excluding from a transcluded file.

Incomplete tasks carry over via transclusion but completed ones required work to manage. Also, I reprioritize my must-do tasks every day which also involved too much overhead to maintain.

I have been using Omnifocus for a very long time and now just need Obsidian to support external URL schemes to let me link to my tasks in Omnifocus

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I’ve used OmniOutliner at work for over 10 years, and have developed an efficient workflow with it for managing work-related notes, so I’ll use this as a point of comparison. As an outliner, OmniOutliner has some fairly sophisticated features. Yes it’s an outliner, but it can do a lot more, such as embed external documents, define additional columns (e.g. data elements) perform automatic numeric-value roll-ups (for example it can can roll up time on tasks that bubbles up to a total at the top of a project), regex searching, scripting, etc. etc. My tasks fall into three categories:

  • Todos (Something I need to do / make happen)
  • Triggers (Something I’m waiting on; e.g. another person’s task, or an event)
  • Timed event (A task with a deadline)

When I’m taking notes in a meeting and think of a todo or trigger, I put that right in the notes as an entry subordinate to the current note, which is usually a topic of the current meeting I’m in. Thus these items are dispersed throughout the notes because they were entered as I thought of them, wherever I was in the notes at the time. OmniOutliner can have defined filters, so I have one that finds all triggers and todos, and I get a custom view of the note tree, with the leaf nodes being triggers / todos, and the context of each one can be easily seen by following up the branch. So for example if I had the following in my notes:

todo: Get Sandy the backup report

I can see via the parent note that it was in the context of a discussion about the new backup system, and that note’s parent is the staff meeting. Thus the structure of the notes provides the context. Timed events are in a separate section and sorted by due date.

I don’t use OmniOutliner personally because the license belongs to work, and I have my own ways of doing personal note-taking that predate OmniOutliner. But the OP’s question got me to thinking about how I would handle todos / triggers / timed events in Obsidian.

As an aside, I used to use Tinderbox to manage my tasks. If you’re not familiar with Tinderbox, it’s mind-boggling in capability. I was able to design a “radar scope” for my tasks. Really, it looked like a radar scope with a reticle. The axes represented time, with the origin at the center of the scope being “Now”. Thus the further out on the scope a task sat, the further out the deadline. Tasks were tagged with a category so that similar tasks (for example, all open tasks for a particular project) would be clustered together on a similar vector heading toward the origin. If a task was overdue, it means it hit the origin and started moving outbound, changing color to red. So it’s distance from the origin now represents how much overdue. I later discovered that some company I never heard of had patented the idea. Oh well.

For Obsidian, I would probably have a separate note specifically for todos, triggers, and timed events. The reason is that I would need to reference this list frequently; the “scan rate” is fairly high, so these tasks would get a lot of attention, with me scanning the triggers at least twice a day looking for something that fired, picking “next tasks” off the todo list, and watching the items with dates. Something like this:

Triggers

  • Sandy owes me that backup config
  • Waiting on reply from Charlie on my sales question

Todos

  • Copy the production telecom billing process to Dev

Events

  • 20201212 - get the modified swimlane to Lisa
  • 20201225 - Complete config illustration before holiday

Each of these entries would be an internal link, which provides the context; just hovering over the items displays the related note. This would allow the actual entry to be concise / terse but effective. Events are ordered in chronological order so it’s easy to see the next due-date(s). I’d probably have this note nailed to a corner of the screen so that I can pop over to it during a meeting and add something, then go back to my note taking. You might ask, why no checkboxes? You can certainly add them, but in my case these items are transitory and don’t reflect permanent notes, only real-time action management. So I delete them when I’m done. If it’s important for me to document that a task was done and when, I’d add that to the specific related note.

So that’s how I’d do it. It’s not sophisticated, but meets one of my design philosophies: Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler. In the end, whatever method you choose to use has to work for you, not the other way around.

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Very interesting thread. I recently switching from Roam to Obsidian and I’m not totally satisfied with my task management flow. I take a lot of meeting notes for work and

This was the reason I found Roam so frictionless for task management: I could mark any block as a TODO item while taking notes (optionally with a #[[to discuss]] or #feedback tag) and know that it’ll surface in another context using queries. In my daily notes template, I’d have a query that shows me all the TODO items for that day:

image

When I have a one on one meeting with someone, I open their page which has queries for open #[[to discuss]] and #feedback items tagged with their name:

(I also have queries for completed feedback and discussion items which is really useful retrospectively for performance reviews, etc.)

I’m still trying to find a good workflow within Obsidian for this. For now, I’ve resorted to noting TODOs in my document for the person. So, if I want to ask Sandy about the backup report next time we meet, I’ll put it on my page for Sandy:

image

Obviously, there’s more friction doing it this way. I’d love to be able to replicate my Roam queries on Sandy’s page, which I could do with search if Obsidian supported searching for matches per line rather than an entire document.

I’ve considered writing a script (basically grep Sandy | grep '- [ ]') that would append open tasks to Sandy’s page or create a new document TODO-Sandy document or something like that. Maybe ideally a plugin that shows the “queries” for the active document in the sidebar? One downside to this compared to Roam queries is that the person’s name would have to be on the same line as the TODO (whereas in Roam, as you can see in my first screenshot, the person’s name can be a parent of the TODO) but that’s not the end of the world.

Anyone else dealing with this kind of workflow in Obsidian?

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Thanks for the great write-up. If I felt I needed the Todo’s embedded in my notes, I’d probably put them on a separate line as a key-value pair. This makes it much more easily identifiable while minimizing false matches:

/^todo: /

which will give me the list of notes with outstanding Todo’s. As I click on each one, I have the context, and the todo entry is highlighted. If I want just the list of TODOs together, I could do it the way I suggested earlier, or do it externally:

grep -roI ‘^todo: .*’ vault_dir

On a Mac, This will provide a list of note names, which provides context, along with the todo text. If you’re on Windows, you could look into the Windows Subsystem for Linux to have access to the same tools. I suppose a benefit of this method is that I could schedule it on the system to provide that list to me on the screen, and I’d have the list even if Obsidian wasn’t running.

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@nadavspi thanks for sharing.

Does the current in document search capability solves the problem ?

I am also curious of a similar workflow.

What about something likenoteplan does?

  • First the app translates every * into - [ ]
  • Then it seems to scan all files for all open todo tags - [ ]
  • Dates are integrated within the same Todo-Line
    • e.g. <2020-12-15 (has to be done until 2020-12-15)
    • e.g. >2020-12-15 (can be started after 2020-12-15)
    • e.g. -[-] for cancelled todos
    • e.g. -[x] for completed todos

As far as I understand, this could be easily integrated? Couldn’t it?

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Interesting ideas. To ease task management I’m considering building a plugin that builds on the ideas of the Workbench, Slated and Review plugins. I’ve described the idea here: Task management plugin (expanding on Workbench / Slated / Review) - comments appreciated!

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Here is an alternative request to support filtering by date:

Task-management is one of it’s intended use cases.

The recently released Vantage plugin provides an easy way to create and run or embed advanced search queries. This includes searching for incomplete and completed tasks. It integrates with Natural Language Dates to provide an intuitive way of searching daily notes.

E.g., search for all incomplete tasks from last Sunday to this Sunday, or all tasks mentioning “write” from January.

Plugin release: Vantage - Advanced search builder

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This is my approach so far. I just use the search feature to search for my tasks. I use Obsidian to take meeting notes as well. It is useful to quickly note down follow up action items during the meeting and review/triage them later.

I’ve found this plugin to be very useful, it might also fit with your workflow: GitHub - delashum/obsidian-checklist-plugin

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One of the other challenges with Obsidian is you can’t tick/mark complete a to-do that’s been surfaced as part of a query. With Roam you can run the query and tick the box all from the same page.

For those of us using Obsidian to take meeting notes etc - it needs a bit more work.

Watching this thread to see what comes of it! :slight_smile:

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@uzerper , try searching for “- [ ]”

Hey there, I was struck by the exact same issues you are describing here. So I created a plugin:

It is still an early version, but it can:

  • track tasks
  • show a list of all tasks from the entire vault (filtered)
  • mark tasks as (un)done from the aggregate list view

See “Obsidian Tasks” on GitHub or the other topic I linked above for more details.

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Use Things, ToDoist, Reminders or one of the 2 dozen other apps designed to be task managers?? :thinking: :smirk:

Although I’d love tasks and notes within the same app, I’ve yet to find a single app that did both of those things well. So I’m not against the idea of using two separate apps. That’s especially true because I’ve used Things for years and it meets my needs perfectly.

The problem I’m having is that while Obsidian URLs work in Things, allowing me to easily link to a note from within a task, Obsidian doesn’t seem to recognize Things URLs. So there’s no obvious way to link to a task from within a note.

And without being able to easily jump back and forth between the two apps, even a multiple app workflow is clunky right now.

Sure - to be honest in my workflows there just is not a lot of value in linking notes to tasks. I use a task manager to make sure I don’t forget things I need to do. I use a knowledge management system to make sure I can resurface knowledge and as a system to force me to think through ideas instead of just buying into the zeitgeist. Obviously others may have very different needs but I do think folks often get obsessed with making a system work a specific way without asking whether that way actually adds value.

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I have a different need, for example. I also keep work’s meeting notes in my vault. At work, tasks often come up during interactions that I am documenting in Obsidian while they are happening. I want to add the task right there and then and not keep a note to add the task to a task app later on. Plus: the task in its context may help me make sense of it later :sweat_smile:

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