Obsidian and Paper Make Good Friends: Analog Note-Taking and Digital Discovery

I did a kind of thought experiment to see how I might keep an analog journal but use Obsidian as a supplemental discovery tool to help me identify and resurface topics in handwritten notes. I thought I would share it here in case anyone else is interested.

You can see on the left the “Analog” journal. It could be a themed log (Dreams, for example) or just a catch-all. It doesn’t matter because you have the table of contents and index cards to help you find things again. You can continue to add page numbers to these index cards as relevant.

On the right is Obsidian, where three example methods are provided. Each example duplicates the Analog table of contents and uses either files (with embedded content), topical links, or topical tags to assist the user. My preference is option 3. However, option 1 would allow you to duplicate the handwritten journal entry. I’m sure some people do this, but my preference would be not to do that.

Would love to get a conversation going on this to see what other things people are doing to hybridize.

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I have several ways I incorporate analog:

  • I handwrite directly in Obsidian notes using iPad scribble
  • I keep a daily writing journal in Rocketbook that I digitize once a month and save to Obsidian as a pdf
  • I have a papersaver notebook that I write in randomly when I need to scribble thoughts down quickly. Depending on the content, I either transcribe notes into Obsidian or scan and save to Obsidian as pdf (multipage) or jpg (single page/portion of a page)
  • I have an A6 planner. I print my weekly and monthly dashboards from Obsidian and insert in the correct section. I handwrite my daily layout (calendar left, top three tasks right) to keep them in front of my eyes all day, bullet journal style. Once a week, I scan the dailies to jpg and transclude them into my daily notes.
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Love your approach! Also with “Analog quick switcher”.
I have an analog A4 Notebook, which I love to use, but am not using very often because I am afraid that I won’t look at it anymore when analog.

But when I do, I scribble every thought down, also not so organized as digital and with a lot of drawings. After wards I write bulletpoints into obsidian, into its own topic-note.
I’ll post a comparison later if I don’t forget!

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Awesome! Thanks for your reply and I look forward to your later post :slight_smile:

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This is interesting! Thanks for all the great rabbit holes haha. I hadn’t heard about paper saver notebooks, so I’m definitely going to check that out. Rocketbook is also new for me; that looks really cool!

Seems you have really maximized the benefits of digitization while maintaining the ability to write notes by hand.

Which Rocketbook do you use? Would you mind sharing a mini review of your experience with it (strengths, weaknesses, etc.)?

Rocketbook rocks! Have created sketchnotes for years to capture stuff anywhere, anytime, quickly and visually. Their like mini whiteboards.

At the top of each page I write the date in the same format as my Obsidian daily notes and the OCR picks up as a note name. Once into Obsidian, the words and visuals fuel further thoughts.

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Awesome to hear! And holy smokes—at that price, I’d be a fool not to at least try it.

I like Executive size, lined pages, and I get two notebooks and bind them both in one coil so that I have a nice thick book that lasts me a month.

I’ve been using Rocketbooks for a number of years, so I know that they do not last forever. The pages wear out and become difficult to write on, so they need to be replaced every now and then. If just one page is getting skippy, I just remove that page, but when the whole thing starts to wear out or get too thin, I replace it.

I don’t use a lot of features. I have set up multiple locations before, but I just have one location set up now, which drops the scanned documents into my Obsidian inbox.

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I am sorry, I still owe you this reply. The notes I took are too sensitive to share them publicly so I wanted to create a dummy note but didn’t get around to it yet. :sweat_smile:

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haha no problem at all

I also use Rocketbook extensively! I used the “Core” spiral-bound version for about four years before transitioning to the “Pro” version bc I think it looks more professional to carry into meetings and carry around at conferences. Love almost everything about it.

I have all of the locations set up to send and store PDFs in various Dropbox folders (currently setting up a location or two for folders in my Obsidian vault). I love being able to write by hand, sketch ideas, and not worry about OCR (scribble) or charging).

The frixion pens requried to use with the books do seem to run out fairly quickly, so I have started buying the refills rather than new pens each time. I am also considering buying a really nice pen that holds frixion refills for an even better writing experience.

What I would love is to figure out how to have rocketbook PDFs upload into my Obsidian vault with tags already associated with them. Otherwise, the rocketbook PDFs are only really useful if they are organized, very well-titled, and linked back to by other obsidian notes.

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