Is keeping daily notes separate a best practice?

Hi there,
just starting to build out a zettelkasten with Obsidian. I do like the daily notes. Currently they are a container for my ideas, basically my collect container. While these daily notes clearly have not the same quality as permanent notes, I think it makes sense to keep them. Since I dont want them to clutter my knowledge graph to much I thought that I use one link from my index to get to a MOC Daily notes where I link all my daily notes, possibly organized by year or so. I though if I develop the discipline not to link any of my daily notes with the permanent notes in my zettelkasten, then I can keep the daily notes seperate. So the only linking to and from a daily note would be between multiple daily notes.

What does the community think? is this a sense able approach or do I miss something further down the road and I should rather see daily notes as just fleeing notes that I would delete after a couple of days once I harvested them for permanent notes?

Love to get your feedback,
Marc

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In terms of where I put my daily notes, I took my cue from the settings associated with that module, and put all of my daily notes in a folder (whereas most of my permanent notes sit unstructured in the root of my collection). I did this so that the date-based note names wouldn’t clog up the main list of “ideas” that I’ve captured in my root directory. In terms of linking, the reason I keep daily notes inside Obsidian is precisely because I can take advantage of the associative links to permanent notes; otherwise, I’d probably just keep my daily notes and thoughts in a blog-type platform outside of Obsidian.
I find that my daily notes are ways to think through topics, and create notes by identifying links as I think/type through the day’s thoughts and activities.

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I didn’t have the habit of keeping daily notes until I tried Roam, where they were kind of forced on me. Before long, I saw their usefulness and potential. So much so, that when I moved to Obsidian, I made a script to link all my 1000+ old files in their respective daily notes.

Sure enough, it paid off immediately. I saw commonalities and connections that were near impossible to detect otherwise; I got a sense of what my interests were throughout the years, I revisited events in my life. It was as if I had been keeping a journal. Except I hadn’t.

I keep everything I collect in my daily notes. If something gets expanded into its own note, I leave a link there.

Daily notes are a completely effortless way of giving some structure and sequence to your other notes. I don’t see myself doing without them anymore.

(I wish I could toggle their visibility in graph view, though. They’re not always relevant to what I intend to do there.)

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I keep everything I collect in my daily notes.

So if I got you right, your daily notes are a mix of a collection bucket of projects related content (privat / job), media, and your own thoughts throughout your day?

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Hi Macedotavares,

thanks for your insight. I agree more and more about the necessity for daily notes. As I have seen that there is a feature request to exclude certain folder from the knowledge graph, I think it makes sense to follow your approach.

Cheers,
Marc

Yep. They’re my scratchpad, my inbox, my “at the very least I’ll jot this down in here”. Then, at the end of the day, I give them some love: I do a lot of [[tagging]] and [[linking]] and maybe expand some entries into their own notes.

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Sounds interesting! Would you clarify what you did here? I don’t follow how you back-filled a journal without keeping one.

The script read the creation dates on the files and linked them in the corresponding daily note. So, if on 2001-06-21 I created a note called “Fanzine ideas.md”, that note would now be linked in a 2001-06-21.md file (along with any other notes created on that date).

Going though these “old” daily notes in chronological order gives me a good notion of how my interests and activities evolved, much better that scrolling through Finder windows with sorted columns.

I hope this makes more sense to you now.

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I agree with you. Making daily notes separate causes muss in my PKM system. So I use monthly notes like [[2020.09]], to turn all the daily notes in Sep. into one page. It works well for me to quickly scan and review my whole month and reduce clutter.

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I work out of my daily notes. The page is divided into three sections ~(my top level MOCs or as I call them Tree’s)

  1. Daily Journal

for self-reflection, thoughts, emotions and self-therapy

  1. Messy Notebook

to place project-related ideas, thoughts and links to previously created or newly created pages This may look something like this

Today I worked on my [[Suicide, A different Story]] project for the [[NHS]]

or
"Interesting meeting today exploring my idea and model on [[Journalling as a Self Evidenced Self Therapy Tool in Obsidian]]. Some interesting ideas were generated by my client group. Todays [[meeting notes]] with with my teapot therapy group [[Teapot T Group 17.09.20]]

then i would add the content to those pages

  1. My Curious Library

self-explanatory but an example would be

Here are the notes from the article [[Jhona & The Whale]]

I create monthly collection pages for things like meeting notes, daily journal, to house them in for easy reflections and referencing

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So just to clarify… your daily note itself is a kind of MOC or index into other linked notes that contain the real content?

In terms of workflow, when you generate new ideas in the course of writing in your “Messy Notebook”, what do you do with that content if it’s ready to be the start of its own permanent note?

  • Create a link and copy/paste the content into the new note?
  • Replace the content with a link?
  • Something else?
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Daily Notes are the backbone of my workflow. I use them as stream-of-consciousness notebook pages. No template. On any given day, the Daily Note could be a personal diary, a project planning doc, or just a blank space to think through new ideas. (Daily Notes are my Morning Pages, for those familiar with that practice.)

At the same time, I am building a Zettelkasten of networked ideas, composed of permanent notes. Naturally, many of my permanent notes were born as free-written passages in a Daily Note.

I had the same question as OP @marcmaurer - which I would rephrase as: How much do you separate or inter-link Daily Notes and permanent notes?

Like @alexkillby I couldn’t imagine not linking Daily Notes to permanent notes. That’s how I’m linking my thinking.

Here’s my current workflow:

  1. Free write new content in a Daily Note, linking to [[existing ideas]] and potential [[new ideas]] as I go.
  2. Review what I’ve written.
  3. If I’ve generated text that could be a meaningful addition to the note for [[existing idea]], I click-open that note in a new pane and copy/paste the new text to it for later integration. Close pane and continue.
  4. If I’ve generated text that would be a good start for a note about [[new idea]], I click-create-open that note in a new pane and copy/paste the text to it as a stub. Close pane and continue.

(I sometimes add a link from the permanent note back to the Daily Note which contributed the new text, if I want to track the timing or provide context.)

This process has two downsides.

First, there’s a lot of redundant text in Obsidian since the same passage may appear in both a Daily Note and permanent note. I’m fine with that. I see Daily Notes as preserving a snapshot of my thinking on a particular day — whereas permanent notes represent the present-day synthesis of my thinking as it has evolved over time.

Second, as @macedotavares said, densely linked Daily Notes clutter up the graph view of the permanent note knowledge graph. Thankfully, the new graph filtering feature provides a solution:

If you keep your Daily Notes in a subfolder as I do, you can filter them out of the graph by pathname: -path:"Daily"

If you tag all your Daily Notes instead, you can filter them out: -#daily

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