How should I organize "personal data about myself" together with "personal knowledge"?

I have finally started using Obsidian and I try to keep things simple. The whole structure isn’t final yet. This is my current folder structure:

  • Attachments
  • Journal
  • People
  • Templates

I use tags as my “note types”:

  • #daily
  • #weekly"
  • #reference (nested with e.g.: /meeting, /article, /youtube, …)"
  • #permanent"
  • #person"
  • #myasset (nested with e.g.: /ict/hardware, /ict/software …)"

The community plugin I use are: Calendar, Periodic Notes and Dataview.

The YAML frontmatter in my daily notes:

  • Daily Rating → Colour and a number 0-21, the number is summed up from the following:
  • Mental Health → number from 1-7 ( = 33% of the Daily Rating)
  • Physical Health → number from 1-7 ( = 33% of the Daily Rating)
  • Time Management (did I use my day well?) → number from 1-7 ( = 33% of the Daily Rating)
  • Hours of sleep tracking

I’m still not sure, if it makes sense to have the YAML frontmatter in English but everything else in German (I’m Swiss and speak Swiss-German). I’m not sure yet, if this could have more advantages or disadvantages (for example when searching something)?

The questions in my Daily Note are (I’m currently try this out to see if it works for me):

  • What have I done/experienced today?
    → I’m not sure if I should link to reference notes from here. E.g. if I write something like “I’ve visited doctor X”, I don’t know if it makes sense to link to the according meeting note(?).

  • How did I feel today (mentally and physically)?

  • Log
    → Here I write down some quick notes like thoughts, ideas, information from other people, summary of phone calls or messages (I assume it doesn’t make a lot of sense to create a “#reference/meeting” note for calls or messages?).

My Questions and insecurities:

One of my goals is to be able to have a dataview list/table somewhere where I can have an overview over my health (so that I can filter and remember when I had problem X the last time or when I felt good or bad and be able to give an answer to my doctor). Maybe it even helps me to see connections like “I often got sick when I did xy”?

I’m not sure where I should try to create this overview? Where does it make sense to have? Should I try to create a “person note” for myself (??) or maybe a permanent note with the title “Health” (or better several smaller ones like “Physical Health”, “Mental Health”, etc.)?

The problem I have is that I’m really not sure if I should separate all my personal information (personal statistics/log) from my other “common knowledge” about the same topic?
For example: Should I have a “Physical Health” permanent note and in there a block called something like “my Physical Health” with my own health log?

Although I’m not a doctor or a student and I don’t try to create a health Wikipedia or something, I assume that without planning in advance, I could get a logical/structural problem with my vault. Let’s assume I make a “Physical Health” note, where I try to insert a dataview table to have an overview over my physical health entries/log from my daily notes and from my doctor visits (#reference/meeting) combined. Maybe I find an interesting article about Physical Health in general in the future. Would it make sense to store this information in the same note where also the dataview table about my physical health is located?

How do you handle/combine such “personal data” together with your knowledge? I’m grateful for every tip and/or explanation about your solution.

Many thanks in advance!

1 Like

There are lots of approaches to this. Ask three people and you might get four answers!

Broadly speaking, you may want to consider looking into one of the following mindesets:

  • The PARA approach: top-down, productivity-focused;
  • A “commonplace notebook”, Zettlekasten, Atomic notes PKM approach

PARA gives a very prominent role to folders in way that the Zettlekasten and friends do not. In the PARA method, you would probably place your personal notes in a folder under the top-level “Areas” folder, e.g. “Areas/Personal”, while the wikipedia stuff would go in “Resources/Health”. You would rely on links and metadata to pull together these as you need them into different views.

In the Zettlekasten type approaches, it really shouldn’t matter functionally where your notes are located in the filesystem any more than whether you put your laptop into a backpack or a briefcase. You really mainly on links/metadata for (semantic) organization and access.

For your use case, to begin with, you may want to experiment with the PARA approach first if you want primarily a “life management system”. You can then have your PKM/learning/knowledge base in either a subdirectory of the “Areas”, e.g. “Areas/PKM”, or “Resources”, e.g. “Resources/PKM”, where you can put all your wikipedia etc. stuff. (I am not sure what exactly a true PARA approach would do here TBH – i.e., how to choose between “Areas” or “Resources” for this use case; maybe someone who knows better can help).

Whatever you decide, don’t fret about getting it right or wrong. Because, as the ancient Persian saying goes, “This Too Shall Pass” :rofl: – I guarantee you that you are going to change it as long as you keep using it.

1 Like

Thank you very much for your help, @jeetsukumaran!

I’ve decided for me that I would like to try the Zettelkasten approach (that’s also the reason why I found Obsidian). However, now I’m struggling to include all these “life management system notes”. These are notes like

  • my healthcare notes (entries in the daily notes and in meeting (reference) notes (doctor visits)
  • Work notes (software manuals written in my own words, notes about processes etc.)

To be honest it’s quite difficult for me to get rid of folder structures but I realized that a PKM in Obsidian with all the linking (and ideally atomic notes) would makes a lot of sense. I also don’t have any “philosophical” or “productivity” PKM notes etc. yet.

I try to “just do it” (this is also the reason I’ve started finally using Obsidian). However, these structural questions catch up with me now anyway and I have to find a solution where I don’t have too much afterwards. Otherwise I’m a bit worried that I could loose my motivation to really use Obsidian because of this.

You’re using “does/if it make(s) sense” quite often… :wink:

Anything makes sense as long as it makes sense to you and feels good. There is no rational answer. Organize your system not only in a way that seems somehow “logical” but in a way you like to look at your notes and writings.

My only advice would be to just start experimenting with different layouts, structures etc. You will realize for yourself if it feels good, looks nice, or whatever. If it doesn’t, adapt it. If you’re not sure from the beginning if you should deal with two somehow related topics seperately, then start keeping them together. If you feel after some time that this doesn’t “make sense” to you, extract the parts you want to keep separately to their own notes (you can use the native “note composer” plugin in order to extract parts of or merge different notes - this is really quick and takes you just one or two clicks).

If you’re not sure if you should rely more on folders, links or tags, use all of them at the beginning. Maybe at least a couple of main folders (which you already do), but especially links and tags - just to secure you will easily find your content when you’re looking for it. After a couple of weeks you will get a feeling of which method seems more plausible for you, you will have first experiences if you rely more on folders, links or tags in your daily routines. You could then start to disregard more and more the methods you use least (but maybe you will find out that a special combination of all three methods is most suitable for you).

One of the major strengths of obsidian is its almost infinite flexibility - changing and adapting your habits from time to time is easy and doesn’t bring along too much hassle. I am working with obsidian for three years now on a daily basis - and I am still adapting and refining my system. This is not to discourage you - it’s rather the observation that the more you dig into productive working routines, the more ideas you will have how to make your working environment even better for your own needs - bit by bit. And this process is actually fun! :slightly_smiling_face:

As to your frontmatter question - use English or German terms or both: I am using both. I am using English terms for common frontmatter keys that might possibly be read by other plugins or apps in the future (like “Aliases”, “tags”, “year”, etc.), but German terms for my own frontmatter keys I establish for the only reason to make them searchable with dataview. Nobody cares. If it makes fun, you can use Suahili terms… :wink:

One last thing: I, personally, would separate a permanent information note about “Physical health” from a “My physical health” note. Just because it is two very different - or maybe rather: independent of each other - pieces of information. You can then still embed (parts of) your personal physical health note in your permanent note. If you don’t want to see it there any longer, just delete the embed. You then don’t have to worry that your content may get lost.

But again: try different things and observe how it feels for you - this would certainly contribute to improving your physical health! :slightly_smiling_face:


Thank you so much @alltagsverstand ! (nice name by the way :slight_smile: )

Such information / tips from experience are very helpful and the reason why I’ve asked this question. I thought about doing exactly the same (tags, aliases in English and my own other frontmatter terms in German, so they are searchable). However, may I ask if you had any disadvantages because of this so far? For example, when tracking my sleep with a key named “sleep:” as my frontmatter term, I don’t get hundreds of daily notes popping up as a search result if I search for “Schlaf” (however, this would be the case, if my frontmatter key had been written in the German word “Schlaf”).
This could be handy because with this approach I only find notes where I explicitly mentioned “Schlaf” inside the note. Maybe this is not the best example, but I hope you understand what I mean.

Thank you very much for this helpful advice, too!

PS: Sorry for my bad English. Unfortunately, my English isn’t as well as yours or others in this great forum…

Sorry, I think I’ve misread something. Do you use German frontmatter values but your keys are always in English (even if they are not “alias”, “tags” or “year”…)?

Your sleep/Schlaf example is very comprehensible - and a very clever way to think about how to structure your information! :slightly_smiling_face: If you are worried about such side effects, then just call your frontmatter value “sleep” - why not? Or, if you prefer to use German, choose a less frequently used word like for example “Pennen” or whatever. :laughing:

I haven’t experienced such side effects so far - but that is mainly because I don’t search for text very often (and if so, I am searching for quite special words). I usually wouldn’t search for “Schlaf”, for example, as probably I would have tagged all notes about “Schlaf” with #schlaf (I am working a lot with tags - if you want to read something about this, have a look at this quite antiquated post…).

1 Like

Sorry from my side - I muddled up the terminology… :wink: No, of course I am talking about frontmatter keys - for example themenbereich: xyz. → has been corrected in my original post!

1 Like