How to approach baby steps with Obsidian?

So many times I’ve started new fresh valuts because I felt overwelmed by my notes in Obsidian
I read that some guys advises to start simple and gradually move to more advanced setups
But here is the thing… I think that wouldn’t work
If I start simple, then changing to other setups (maybe adding plugins), changing the structure of my vault, decide how to use folders, tags, links, maybe then detracting some of the previous stuff…
That would force me to constantly refactor my vault (or vaults), and that’s is a huge amount of work !
I’m really lost on this :frowning:
Does anyone know a way to use Obsidian and don’t get to the point of being overwelmed ?
BTW I use Obsidian for notes about programming, and that’s more complex than the examples of note taking I see on videos

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I was in a similar situation, when i moved to mac i couldnt believe how bad the native notes app was. I thought it might be a trial version lol. Fell down a rabbit hole of note apps, and found obsidian quite quickly. It seemed WAY more than i required, graph views etc, but my company is called obsidian so i still wanted to use it, seemed fitting.
It took me quite a while to download, and even longer to start to use for the same reason as you. But once i started, i realised its just a note taking app! You dont need all the bells and whistles, and once i looked at it like that my vault has grown as has my plug in list. What i realised was, it in fact wasnt a big deal to change the way i used it, that was actually its strength. My vault will now look like no one elses as it has grown and adapted to my needs.

I am not a coder, in fact im rubbish with tech, but as a complete muggles i think the flexibility and evolution of your vault is truly its USP, i just had to stop over thinking it, and embrace it

Thank you @TooInfinity for the response
But the point for me is that changing the way I use it, in fact IS a big deal
Some plugins forces you to modify your notes (ie: Dataview), not even to mention if you change your mind about how to use tags, folders or links.
And that’s a lot of rework, everytime you change your workflow.
At some point of it, I lose the motivation to continue taking notes.
Even so, if I come up with a really simple workflow for taking notes, I’ll probably discover that I don’t even need Obsidian for that.
Feels like a tail chasing situation… sorry for ranting, but it’s frustrating to have all that friction for organizing notes in a knowledge base.

Seems like a task to find a note app, that does everything you want, the way you want it, right out of the box and requires no adaption. Good luck lol, who knows!

Being overwhelmed is a typical situation when starting with Obsidian. But the key for a solution could not be found, as I believe, within Obsidian itself. Looking outside and learning something about the methodology for note-taking may be a good starting point.

So I started reading “How to take Smart Notes” from Sönke Ahrens. Adapting the methodology to Obsidian after that was a much easier task for me. But it also needs about three month of learning and experimenting.

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I have also gone through this. I have had several, and I mean SEVERAL vaults, and I can only say that it has actually helped to do just that, starting over. The old vaults weren’t lost files and everytime I started anew I had some new understanding and experience to build on. I feel now that I know what MY vault needs and are pretty satisfied with everything. I can always grab the old vaults files if I need something and I have learned several stuff that can help me keep order and/or re-arrange if it is needed. I guess it is part of your learning process, a hit-and-miss until you feel satsified.


Yeah, I move all my ‘failing’ vaults to a giant BULK folder, and there I have a big mess where at least I can search & pray to find my stuff (like a pre-Google instance of searching)

I turn off Backlinks and Outgoing Links (core plugins). Turn off some others too. I use the Hider plugin (recently discovered) to hide the App Ribbon, the tab bar, and the sidebar toggles.

Just organize your notes the way you want them. Maybe also use a less all-inclusive Markdown app, like Typora, too, so that you can get a feel for how you want your notes organized in your actual file system.

Don’t mess with plugins. Just write your notes.

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This has pretty much been my journey so far:

My job now requires me to make a lot of documents, keep track of a lot of ongoing projects, and of coourse just tons of personal stuff that I would like to be able to better track and follow up on.

I heard about Obsidian and looking at it, I knew right off the bat how powerful it could be, but I would always keep putting off setting up this theoretical ‘perfect’ system that exists vaguely in my head.

So, I installed Typora, and it worked wonderfully, I learned a good workflow for myself, figured out how I liked things to look, etc.

This is a long-winded way of saying, yes, you may have to both build the bridge your standing on, and repair any holes you make in it along the way.

It’ll suck and you probably will get frustrated, but always try to carry over things from your failed vaults and use them to make the next one that much more consistent.

You got it!

I’m fond of the “hot mess” strategy:

  1. Maintain your current working vault
  2. Create a folder and name it “Hot Mess”
  3. Dump all current content into the new folder
  4. Begin working toward your new organizational approach and gradually add files to folders/tags/MOCs as you prefer.

Helpful tools for this approach are

  • random note plug-in
  • search
  • backlinks/outgoing links
  • graph (for finding orphans)

Cheeky methods aside, I would echo @radicalPolio in encouraging patience in making errors. I’ve found that by keeping all my content in the same vault, every time I make a mistake and have to correct, I touch my notes again and that helps increase mastering the information I’m interested in

Thanks @looper , I’m also interested in the minimalist approach.
By using so many plugins, I feel that the promise of ‘being markdown, you can use other tools’ gets broken because in fact you’ll depend on Obsidian and all the plugins you use (some plugins imposes the usage of non standard syntax)
So being minimalist, I wonder how do you organize your notes
Do you use folders, tags, how do you use them if you do ?

Hi @carugnom;

I think my answer is just going to be a reflection of me personally, how my brain works. But maybe it will be helpful in some regard!

I personally find the whole concept of tags a little confusing…I don’t use them very much at all. Or I might use a few and then forget about them for long periods of time.

I am not in a profession or hobby where I am writing a lot of things all the time, so primarily I have this structure:

  • General folder - this has a bunch of subtopics underneath it, like Records, Health, Books, Inspiration, etc. Various projects and such.
  • Creative Projects - this has its own folder because I touch this more than the General folder. I said I don’t write a lot, but sometimes I do like to write for fun, fiction and such. So those things live in here.

In the root directory, where General and Creative Projects live, I also have these files:

“today” is supposed to be where I just write down things to do this very day.
“goals” is where I write down my plans for the future.
“list” is my grocery and shopping list.

There’s other folders and files, but the above is the general idea, the structure that shouldn’t change too much.

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