I Think I Just Had My Moment

I have used Evernote for years. I actually don’t mind the new version of their app, but I came to realize I was using it as my digital hoarding area. It was so easy to save things into it I saved everything, and I rarely went back to develop ideas or even read the entire note I had saved. The entire thing was set up like “someday I’m going to go through all this and make sense of it”.

My first run at Obsidian a few months ago saw me import all of my Evernote data into Joplin, then export it as markdown into Obsidian. It was here that I tried to make Obsidian behave like Evernote. You could say it worked okay, but I was having the same problems. Information overload and not enough dissemination of my own on the material. I gave up on using Obsidian that way and left until a few weeks ago.

When I came back, I decided to change my mindset. Instead of dumping everything into Evernote, I was going to do the following.

  • Quick Items: Things like grocery lists, recipes, home maintenance notes, guitar scales would now be in APPLE NOTES.
  • Longer term storage: Things like health documents, bills, instruction manuals would now be stored in ONEDRIVE.
  • My Own Thoughts & Ideas: OBSIDIAN

I haven’t been forcing things, creating notes in Obsidian as required. I started actually by creating a Kanban board of my current goals. I then made notes about certain things I wanted to work on; things like self-esteem, empathy, my ability to listen etc.

I’ve been taking it slow, but I now have a Map Of Content about attributes I’d like to work on, and from there it branches out into a definition for each trait, how I can improve it, articles I’ve read etc.

I’ve only now started adding tags which is odd, considering my entire Evernote account was tag based, but man, the linking of notes has been a revelation. I am learning to keep the notes fairly small where possible too, and the links really do become apparent as you think and write notes in your own words.

I’ve built myself a nice little knowledge graph here and the ideas are 100% original. And from that, I find my ideas are pinging around in my head more. I’m thinking about these things with greater frequency, and the more dots I throw on the page, the more you start to see how these dots really do form a picture.

If you’re new to Obsidian I recommend this method of starting out slow. Don’t try to build Rome in a day. You may walk away from your computer feeling like you accomplished nothing, or you may find you’re overwhelming yourself at times in an effort to find the perfect structure or linking system. Just keep plugging away. When the plan reveals itself to you, you’ll know, and seeing a cluster of YOUR OWN ideas staring back at you – you’ll find it very empowering.

I’m all in on Obsidian now. There’s no turning back.


Nice post.
Your new organization with different buckets for different things makes total sens to me.
I have one question (largely off-topic regarding Obsidian) though: since you mentioned Apple Notes, I’d like to know more about why you choose OneDrive instead of iCloud Drive.

I have an Office 365 subscription for home use as we use it as a family. My kids use it for school, my wife etc. I figured I’d take advantage of the 1TB of space I have and since that’s where my existing files reside I’d pop Obsidian there too.

I know using OneDrive takes Obsidian out of the mobile equation, but there are more file versioning options in OneDrive and I feel like it’s a bit more robust. Also, and this will sound petty, the iCloud web site looks like a kid’s toy. I know I’d rarely need to use it, but those moments where a file is needed quickly it’s really ugly. At least give me a detail list view instead of giant folders everywhere. Oh, and I need to use it at work and I can’t install iCloud on my Windows PC there.

Given the complexity of Obsidian, I don’t see a lot of need for me personally to have it on my iOS device. If I do think of something on the fly that could become an Obsidian note, I’ll just fire it into Drafts or Notes and deal with it later in Obsidian.

If and when the time comes I DO want to have Obsidian available on iOS as well, I suppose I can just copy my Obsidian folder over to iCloud and go from there.

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:rofl: Agreed!

If you have an O365 account already, that makes sens. And this

is good to know (I don’t use OneDrive, as you might have guessed).

Well, that’s an iCloud showstopper, for sure. I’m curious, you’re using the same vault for work and personal life? Have you considered using different vaults for different spheres of life?

Up until May, I was using a combo of The Archive (maOS) and Editorial (iOS) plus Drafts (iOS) for quick entry, all tied together using Dropbox. Somehow, after a few tries, Obsidian really clicked for me (that’s when I had my moment too). So I pointed it at the same folder used by The Archive and hit the road with that. But Editorial started to show its limits (no [[WikiLink]] nor #tag support, mainly).

Then, just yesterday, after reading this post from MacDrifter, I installed Obsidian on my iPhone. And I must say, boy I’m impressed! It’s much more usable than I have ever imagined it could be (even on a 6s). Of course, my files now live in iCloud Drive. How good iCloud syncing is remains to be seen, though.

The only downside for me so far: Drafts on iOS suddenly became much less useful. The thing is, my vault now lives in iCloud Drive/Obsidian/vautFolder/ and I can’t get Drafts to drop files there. I’ve tried adjusting the path in my Drafts action, but files are dropped in iCloud Drive/Drafts/Obsidian/vautFolder/. Yes, once I’m at my Mac I can drag files from one folder to the other, but that defeats the “quick” part of “quick entry”. I’ll let the issue soak for a while.

Yup! At least, that’s what I did from Dropbox to iCloud Drive (leaving a copy behind, just in case…). That said, you should stick to your approach of moving slowly. Maybe, by the time you need Obsidian on iOS, more syncing mechanisms will be available.

I use two vaults. One for personal and one for work. I love that I can use different themes on each because in the rare event I open both it’s super easy to tell them apart.

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I had a very similar experience to you. EverNote just encourages you to hoard web clippings instead of pulling out your thoughts about what you’ve read.

If you ever want to use Obsidian on your mobile device, take a look into SyncThing. It’s a little odd to set up, but it’s free, open source, secure, and doesn’t rely on a third party to store your files.

Because I use another cloud based hosting service to sync my Obsidian vault between my laptop and desktop, I decided to make my SyncThing sync one-way with my mobile device (mobile is only a mirror of my desktop) to avoid potential file versioning issues. I assume SyncThing would be smart enough to alert you to version control issues (e.g. you make conflicting changes on the same file before they get in sync), but I haven’t dug that deep into it yet.

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I had a totally different experience, as I didn’t have a previous system, but I felt you echoed a similar tone of experience, as you tried to make Obsidian do what you thought it should do, then realized you had to allow the app to shape you instead.

I was very mad the first day I used Obsidian, I had tried to import a lot of data from a spreadsheet and the plugins were either not capable or not intuitive enough.

I came back and began creating notes from scratch. Completely different experience. Discovered new thoughts within an hour. Began writing a new paper.

Glad we both gave Obsidian a second try. :smiley:

Great post and insights - I moved from evernote to apple notes for the same reason but am still called by the siren of obsidian for idea-sex, but your use case makes the most sense to me. The only thing holding me back is:

  • The speed and seamlessness of apple notes is unparalleled
  • The mindmapping function of obsidian is still rudimentary, and if I’m going all in on a platform specifically for jotting and connecting ideas, mindmapping is an essential format for visual overview. I see it as more useful than the obsidian graph

Thanks a lot for your thoughts! For me it was nearly the same experience. And I ended up with the exact same apps for storage :wink:

Out of curiosity, we can’t make SyncThing work on iOS, right?

You’re right, there doesn’t appear to be an official app for iOS. I must have been mistaken when I did my web search earlier.

There is a third party app called Möbius Sync which claims to support Syncthing in iOS. I don’t use iOS so I can’t speak to how well it works.