Need help integrating Johnny.Decimal System and my PKM vault in Obsidian


Any JD people here?

I’ve been using Obsidian for my PKM for almost a year. Starting to feel pretty comfortable in my vault. It contains a variety of notes related to life admin, career advancement, projects I’m working on, and just general knowledge and areas of interests.

The problem

That all has been great, but something holding me back has been how I organize my digital life more broadly. In other-words, my once simple folder structure has accrued a certain amount of chaos over many years, as my file management system now spans several devices, hard drives, and cloud storage.


This chaos has led me to the Johnny.Decimal System. The idea is, you get 10 areas, divided into 10 categories and in each category you get 100 ID’s that can be stored there. That gives you 10,000 slots to work with – though it’s suggested if you use even half of that, you’re likely doing it wrong. But you have this number system AC.ID, where you get 00.00 through 99.99

I like this approach to system and project management. Regardless of how you feel about the actual implementation of JD (i.e. the numbering and the rules about sub-folders and the rule of 10, etc.), there’s clearly been a lot of thought put behind this body of work concerning file and project management.

One thing I find really useful about JD is that it is meant to incorporate all aspects of a system or project. Digital and hard copies; cloud or C drive. When set-up thoughtfully, it’s like a filing cabinet that anything can fit in.

As I build my system

So I guess there’s some obvious ways to make Obsidian work to my benefit in my system inspired by JD: first and foremost as the Index (00.00 in the system). I’m thinking the index is a separate vault from the PKM I described above. But I’m running into some conceptual issues concerning how to integrate my PKM

How you can help

If you have experience with using JD with Obsidian, I’d love to hear how you do so.

Beyond that, I’m curious if you think my current PKM should be considered it’s own system (multiple systems is cautioned against in JD) or if it’s more of an ID within a broader JD system, area and category to be determined.


I’m just starting this journey myself two days ago. I think your intuition is right in having the index kept separately from your vault, since the index is ideally accessible from on all devices on which you’re using the system. Something web based seems ideal for that.

Though I have not finished the JD transformation, I predict my vault fit nicely as a separate Area (e.g. 30-39 PKM). As for other tips, I don’t have many. The book is half off now, though. It may be worth getting if you want to a step by step process to setting up the system.

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Hey, thanks for your input! Also, welcome to the forum and congrats on starting your PKM journey!

A quick point about the index being accessible on all devices: Obsidian Sync is a super affordable way to have an Obsidian vault sync across all devices and also support the developers in the process. I think that would work great for a JD index.

Regarding your second point, I guess I do see my PKM vault more as an Area than anything else. That said, I posted about this same topic on the JD Forums, and a user pointed out some flaws to this approach.

Here’s what I said:

I guess I wasn’t thinking about how my current vault basically functions as an index for my life, but without the helpful numbers and in a way that doesn’t allow for referencing things that live outside of the vault. This really peaks my curiosity though.

I imagine my vault becomes my system, and I include an Index note at 00.00 to link all my other AC.ID notes from there. Then I can reference files that live elsewhere using a secondary line in my index note or by creating a note for every ID to collect metadata regarding location.

I need to keep thinking about this. I can see a “Building my JD System in Obsidian” walk-through being a beneficial guide for new users though.

If your curious, here’s the full forum post: Need help integrating JD and my PKM vault in Obsidian - 14 Build your system - Johnny.Decimal