Overlap between personal and work?

I use Obsidian in personal and work capacities. I’ve got a personal vault that I sync via iCloud on my personal devices and a separate work vault that I sync with Obsidian’s sync feature so I don’t put personal stuff on my work laptop. This works for things that are clearly separate, but I’m not sure what to do about the gray area where things overlap.

For example, I turn just about everything in my daily note into separate linked notes (e.g. meetings, discrete tasks I work on during the day, etc.) to make it easier to pull these activities into other places via Dataview. While most of that stuff is related to my primary job, I occasionally have meetings for other non-work commitments that I’d like to track as well. I’d be ok with having a separate daily note for personal and work-related things, but I’m hoping to use the same templates and Dataview structure (and ideally plugin configuration/hot keys) in both places without having to maintain them separately.

There’s also the ambiguity of knowledge management. When I read books and articles, they often pertain to my personal interests as well as work, so there’s no easy way to bucket the information into “personal” and “work”.

One idea I’ve had is using symlinks to create separate work and personal vaults that share a few folders. But I’m worried that syncing two separate vaults with some overlapping files could lead to conflicts and data corruption.

This could just mean I need to do a better job of disentangling my life to better separate these areas, but I wanted to see if anyone else has run into this/has a way to organize this overlap!

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Sadly I can’t help you much here except to tell you that I keep all my personal and work stuff in a single vault. I used to have the same dilemma as you, but at some point it created more friction that it was worth it. And it’s all me, I only have one brain which keeps personal and professional stuff in there so it only makes sense to mirror that in my vault (zettelkasten).

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I think we all had this problem at some point. I did as @zk.obsidian did and did not try to separate both. In fact, the more I use Obsidian, the less I tend to separate things at all.

However I tend to take different kinds of notes between work and personal life. For work, everything is mostly flat-file based and linked via maps of content. For personal notes, I use a more traditional folder/file system, with mostly everything in the Personal folder.

This way, I would put a personal note in the Personal folder, but I can still link it in a work map of content if needed.

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I keep three primary vaults:

A Work vault that lives on my work laptop and is backed up to my work network. It’s for tracking projects, products, and work-specific reference.

A Personal vault that is on my personal devices and synced via Dropbox. It contains notes and snippets about my hobbies, games, writing, and faith journey.

A Reference vault that lives on both my personal and work devices, synced via Dropbox (my employer permits this). This is for professional notes that are not specific to my employer. I’m a software developer, so there are a lot of reference notes about programming, languages, hardware, operating systems, and so forth. But there are also notes about ancillary topics like art and music as they intersect with my profession.

To decide what vault a note goes in is a fairly simple rubric:

  1. Is this directly related to my work with my employer? Does it contain anything specific to my organization? If so, it stays in the Work vault.

  2. Is this useful professionally but not specific to my employer? Would I feel comfortable showing this to a workmate? If so, it goes in the Reference vault.

  3. Everything else goes in the Personal vault.

So most of the time I have two vaults open: my Reference vault and the one for whichever context I’m currently in, Work or Personal. It’s not perfect, but I find this system works very well for me.

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Thanks everyone! In theory, my favorite option is keeping everything in one vault because that sounds the most straightforward. I’m going to keep this in the back of my mind because that’s definitely the ideal.

In practice, as @Craig pointed out, not everything in my personal vault passes the “would I feel comfortable showing this to a workmate?” check, so I wouldn’t want the entire single vault synced on my work device. I like the idea of a third vault for reference to put in both places - this might be the immediate step.

I do wish there was a way to choose which folders to selectively sync from the server using Obsidian’s sync, not just on the local side. If this were the case, I could use one vault and just turn off syncing for a few folders on my work device (not fully disconnected, but I’d be more comfortable with knowing the non-synced files aren’t physically stored on the computer)

As long as there are no legal reasons not to mix the two you could use a single vault and keep the worlds apart by using tags and metadata. You could have different templates for work and personal. I am currently experimenting with this myself.

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I had the same problem and started just using a single vault. It’s much better. Here are my top-level folders:

image

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