Please, suggest how to organise notes

This is a general question: how would you organise the following notes in Obsidian?

Just for example: I have notes in ‘Software’ category and several sub-categories: ‘Audio’, ‘Video’, ‘Utils’, ‘Note taking’ etc. Inside each sub-category there are notes like these (for ‘Note taking’): ‘Foam’, ‘Obsidian’, ‘VSCode’, ‘IOS markdown editors’, ‘Tags vs Links’. What do you recommend:

  1. make a directory ‘Software’ with subdirectories ‘Audio’, ‘Video’ etc and put relevant notes here?
  2. make a base directory ‘Software’ and use tags for categorising notes ‘Audio’, ‘Video’ etc?
  3. just go flat and make an aggregate note ‘Software’ and link notes ‘Audio’, ‘Video’ etc to ‘Software’, then link lower level notes to sub-categories etc?.. I thing this approach is well-suited for Obsidian ideology, but I fear therh might be issues with finding and sorting the notes…

Your suggestions?

Thanks!

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For my workflow, the least amount of friction comes by combining espanso, the Daily Note template, tags, and the starred section. I don’t use folders since the number of notes grows more and more with linked notes for terms, books, people, ideas, etc. At some point it becomes overload and scrolling through the list of notes is all but useless to me. So keep in mind the following is tag-focused. By doing so, I don’t need to fiddle with sorting new notes into specific folders, and when making a new note I know it doesn’t need further sorting (because of the tags).

Espanso

For a note about a specific book, I can create a new note and type /book and it will replace that with formatted text I set up in espanso, including the tag #book. I like using this to keep each of those pages formatted correctly and consistently. You can set them up for anything, and for your workflow I could see setting up a /software, /audio, /video, etc. shortcut so that you can have the note preformatted in the way you want and automatically add the tag to the page.

Daily Note

This is pure preference, because the same can be achieved with espanso, but I set up a template for my long-form notes as the Daily Note template. All I have to do is click the Daily Note button and a new note with this formatting is created.

Tags

This is how I sort and categorize my notes. The benefit I find of using tags instead of folders is in adding multiple tags. In essence, it’s like adding a single note to multiple folders. Since you can search for multiple tags at once, any note that contains those two/three/four tags shows up and narrows the field. However, if you’re used to folder sorting this could take some getting used to. Again, personal preference.

Starred Section

For the starred section, I add evergreen notes, notes that I’m currently working on, or notes that I need to work on. I’m sure this is the widely used method for the starred section as well.

Overall, I could see this method working for your workflow if it sounds possible for you. Whether or not you like the navigation method is totally up to you, but for me it offers the least amount of friction in working with a great number of notes. You just have to forget about the folder method when you start using this one. It took a while for me to get used to but I really like it now.

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@Valery_Kondakoff, I’m afraid you’ll have to figure out what’s best for your workflow yourself.

I’ve been browsing through this forum, the Zettelkasten website and numerous other resources only to find my self overwhelmed with the different tips and tricks.

As in any business, instead of relying on tips and tricks, it’s better to look for the underlying principle. I’ve discovered a few of them since then:

  1. The simpler the system, the better. Design the workflow that would survive in your worst day: you’re tired / dumb / no computer at hand, only a phone etc.

  2. Keep the low-level notes atomic to allow for different combinations.

  3. Let the system grow organically, do not impose any folders or tags before you have the content. Say, you have only notes for audio software, so let it be it. Once you have a note for video software, you might want to unify those under general Software note. Later, you might want to create another unifying note, say, YouTube-related software and Spotify-related software.

There are other principles, but I think these are the core.

P. S. As for me, for now I’m using directories only for “technical” stuff like note templates or reading sources. My own notes are piling in one OneDrive-connected directory.

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Hi @tward09. Thanks for your workflow. I have been a OneNote user so wasn’t use to the folder structure. It uses notebooks, tabs, then pages.

My collection of md files have grown over the height of a page so started dumping them into folders, but that isn’t a solution. I like your workflow.

I have a question about the tag pane. How do you manage the number of tags created? I’m assuming they would grow well beyond the height of a side pane. Or do you just keep creating and use the search function only? Thanks

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I do potentially see my tag pane getting pretty long, but I try to stay pretty specific for my tags. I generally do only use the search function with my tags at the moment. More so I use the backlinks pane.

My workflow is for studying the Bible and I try to make new notes for terms, people, ideas/themes, books, chapters, authors, etc. and tag them appropriately, and because cross referencing is so important in Bible study the backlinks pane is more useful in an organic sort of way, if you know what I mean.

I will be using them for my masters notes once classes start back up so the workflow will be tested more heavily at that point. Either it works for academics or I’ll have to figure out something new. I do see it working because of the similarity of ideas within each subject due to the more narrow focus.

A weakness I see in my suggested workflow (and my experience with heavy workflows in general) is that it hasn’t been tested for either occupational notes or personal daily knowledge outside of my two use cases and could potentially fall off with a more robust volume of notes. Because I use Obsidian for more focused and specific subjects and uses, I am able to keep my tags pretty specific. I’m not sure how well or poorly the method could carry over to literature reviews, programming notes, or any other uses.

Oh, and I keep separate vaults for everything.

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Hi,
Organizing notes is a personal process but you can find many ideas around there !

I agree :slight_smile: It depends on your needs and your expectations. Do you want to study a narrow subject, are you creating something,

For example, Zettletasken would not work for me. In some situation, some great solutions are useless so don’t worry.

I use Obsidian to construct my novel. I am switching from Scrivener which was exhausted me.
I have a huge univers building needs ( I have around 2500 pages of notes and 1 500 pages of my novel written yet). So I use folders, and name file to find them. It sound more logical for me. And the more you find it logical… the more you’ll be able to make it naturally.

  • Some ideas that can be useful to test by yourself to adapt while finding your own workflow :

    • Name file : for example, one of my character is called “Althea”. So everything that concern her (stories development, trivias…) is named : “Althea - …”
    • Folder name : I don’t mind making “001 - Name” folder to keep it at the top of the list.
    • Tags : same here with name. “Specie-One” “Specie-Two”
  • Some specifics tricks that works for me and a bunch of list-makers maniacs :

    • I make “Index” and “lists” documents with links : I write a list and create links as I am writing.
    • I plan creating my folders with a Meta index, with all index :

List making allows me to dig into an idea and create links and documents as soon as I have an idea in the flow of my writing process. I am used at it : one big subject and many little ones inside.
I

Obsidian set you free from being constrain into only one logical construction for your notes. It could take time before finding your own workflow. Try and retry you can’t get wrong here ! :smile:

I have a question, sire :

What is Espanso ?

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A piece of software to facilitate faster typing of repetitive pieces of text (e.g., current date or you e-mail signature), similar stuff is PhraseExpress and many others. These text expanders also exist for mobile OSes.

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I want someone to help me learn this. There seems to not be any guide anywhere.

I have a few exceptions - e.g. I have a separate folder for “to do”-type or “actionable” notes - but overall I don’t feel the need to keep a lot of folders for organization because the search, tags, and links will do the work.

I have one folder for book notes (mostly exported Kindle highlights), and then four big “buckets” I dump everything in. (One would suffice, but chunking it down a little makes it less unwieldy if I want to skim the folder manually.) I have one for theology and one for health (because those are my widest categories), and then one for “everything else” and one for stuff I wrote myself (on Facebook, and saved).

If you do too much with organizing into folders, I think you risk locking yourself into seeing notes as limited to the context you store them in, which diminishes the value of the system/software.