Obsidian vs. Notion as Task Manager

I see a lot of comparisons of Obsidian and Notion (which is how I first heard about Obsidian). However while it seems that no one is using or thinks that Obsidian is appropriate to use as a task manager (eg see this thread), there are a plethora of guides specifically on how to use Notion as a task manager. So what is the difference between these 2 programs in this regard? Is it that Notion has database capability and Obsidian does not?

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This is strictly my opinion, but I think that it is better to use dedicated programs for task management (like Tick Tick, Todoist, Microsoft To Do…). Notion lovers want to use it as a tool for everything, even for task management. It works for many, but I prefer TIckTick for small tasks and Trello for projects.

I like when apps have hard edges :wink:

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I have used Notion as a task manager in the past, and for me it worked well. Speaking from the view of Obsidian it requires two things to at least be on par with Notion: transcludable searches and editable transclusions (specifically checkboxes). Notion let’s you embed databases with a filtered view to only see the rows that match the filter and that data can be edited within the embedded view. You don’t have to go the original location to make changes.

Like jespis says a lot of people will recommend a separate task manager. For me, I want a tool that is at least competent at both notes and tasks for a few reasons but mainly the idea of Interstitial Journaling (mixing notes and tasks as things come to me). I have ADHD so if I’m typing up an idea and think of a task being able to just write it right away is huge. If I switch to the task manager to write the task I might lose my train of thought for the note, and vice versa. The same goes for project notes/tasks on the same page.

I can obviously migrate tasks to a task manager but that introduces friction that probably means it won’t get done and things get lost. For me, the more tools I use the less chance there is that it will work well for me. So condensing down to a single tool that is always front and center is huge for me. Notion can do it fairly well (though it can be slow and no backlinks) but Obsidian is definitely going to be that tool for me once those improvements to transclusions are there.

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Ha, interesting. After years of keeping well-defined edges, I have developed the opposite philosophy. This is rooted in the notion of reducing cognitive overload: when I’m trying to juggle multiple projects, all of which have undefined, creative demands on my attention, I found trying to keep clean, hard edges added distracting janitorial work without facilitating clarity.

To wit, after ~10 years of Todoist, then OmniFocus, as a “power user”, I quit task managers. (My life circumstances also changed, which helped, I’m sure; I used to manage a variety of initiatives, now I’m mostly an independent researcher.)

Nowadays I keep my tasks and projects in plain text. I haven’t really built out workflows for Obsidian task management yet, but the ideas are forming.

To the OP: there are a few features yet to be implemented that will make task management in Obsidian really powerful—namely embedded searches. For now, though, you can use saved searches (e.g., - [ ] ) to pull together all tasks, and add tags or specific phrases to your tasks to make such searches more specific.

Ultimately, all a database means is having the ability to store and query data. If you conceptualize Obsidian as a database, it doesn’t have a formal, conventional “add record” or querying interface, but you can conceive of their equivalents in the app.

For instance, I have a Shortcut on iOS that lets me add emails to Obsidian as tasks. One swipe copies the Airmail URL and subject line, formats it as a link, and appends it to an Email note. I embed that note at the bottom of my daily note using a template. Then I have a list of outstanding messages-as-tasks in my daily notes.

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Impressive. Would you be willing to create a post to explain how you set it up? I’m not interested in that specific use case but the methodology could be useful to come up with automation for other use cases.

Briefly:

  • Airmail export allows you to choose several variables to share to Shortcuts when you use a Share to Shortcuts action. I select “Subject” and “Airmail URL”
  • Airmail generates a two line text output with subject on the first line and URL on the second
  • Shortcuts takes that text as input, splits it into a list by newline, then takes the first and second item in that list (subject and URL) and formats it as - [ ] [Subject](URL)
  • Via 1Writer’s url scheme, I run a onewriter://append?path=Path to Email Note&text=Line of text in the step just before this action

Presto!

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Are you guys seriously use Obsidian and Notion to manage you daily errands? Maybe it’s the good way but I seldom use it. What I use are <> and Rstudio. Sometimes , that I usually found the life is sometimes boring and life woundn’t uplife me. So I start to think how to be addictied to play online games. So I write simple method to simulate machanism of updating and obtaining gold in game filed. I was used to marking the importance of errands with several levels of “B,A,S,SS,SSS”, respectively and what I obtain golds and experience were consistent with the level but I add the random number, for example, if I finished one errand of “SSS”, I would obtain 100 golds but next I may get 120 golds. That was real random. Adding random numbers makes the life and game becoming interesting. But sometimes , I felt still boring even though I use this kinds of game system.
I think the main reason is the personality to anything without passion.

You might want to look into Habitica, a task manager built with this kind of gamification in mind.

Another similar resource is David Seah’s Printable CEO.

Well I try to do that. thank you very much.

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I would agree with the idea of hard edges. I use notion for task management because it’s super easy to get things into it, I can curate tasks so I know what to do on what day, and when a task is done, it goes away. I am sure I could create some sort of task management system in obsidian, but it feels like it would be like square peg/round hole. I also really like being in the obsidian space and NOT seeing tasks. I want to focus on curating and creating knowledge rather than checking things off a to do list. Obsidian is like a sanctuary for deep work. At least that’s my thinking!

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