So... how do you get started

hey there,
I stumbled on Obsidian and im trying to figure it out.
my first thought is around the day-to-day meeting, weeklies, ideating and so on but for the love of me I can understand how to get it started.
looked online and saw endless materials but none helped me structure it properly.
thought it will be interesting hearing from the veterans here.

would appreciate any great ideas you may have on how to structure the note with the use case I have in mind.
:pray:t3:

The most common advice on this is probably “just do it, bro” / write first, organize later.

But I’ve always found that overwhelming. Especially if you have a lot of data already to document, you can end up focusing too much on the macro “what goes where” and too little on the micro “making stuff sustainably usable.”

I would grab a real life notebook and start brainstorming what your personal needs are first. What information do you need to store? What info do you need to access rarely vs often? When and how do you need to access it? Work from broad ideas down to specific things you can implement. Doodle templates, whatever you’ve got to do.

(If that sounds like too much work, there are demo vaults floating around you could start with. Maybe someone here can link a list of them if you’re interested.)

Then take a specific project or use case and implement those systems in Obsidian with it.

When that inevitably fails / you realize some facet of the system fundamentally doesn’t work for you, figure out what the issue is and make any changes needed; rinse & repeat. Eventually, you’ll get over the hump and be making more notes than organizational tweaks. That’s when you start moving all the similar projects / workflows to your vault.

YMMV, but that’s the process I’ve found the most practical when getting organized and switching between tools over the years.

When you’re brainstorming, by the way, consider how you’re going to minimize duplicate information and conflicts. That’s one of Obsidian’s strong points thanks to links and note-in-note embeds. And look out for more obvious edge cases, like how you’re going to handle notes that fit in multiple categories; these help reveal major structural issues that would otherwise slip by. Consider that Obsidian has lots of different ways to group content (like tags, metadata, folders, and links) that can be mixed & matched.

One last tip: It’s fine to have multiple different systems and areas for doing different things with your vault. Top-level folders are good for creating these kinds of divisions.

You can make a folder where you dump things you currently want to jot down in that “just do it” style, for example, to get into the habit of using Obsidian and develop a better sense of what content you have to organize. And then have a different folder for trying out possible structures in more depth etc.

I like having a section that breaks my normal category-id rules, specifically for brainstorming and ideating. Others like having a section for daily notes or their zettelkasten. When something comes up that doesn’t fit your structure, it doesn’t have to be shoehorned into what’s already there, if you don’t want it to be.

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I’d say the main thing would be to just get started writing daily notes, and then when you get some of those and you get a little familiar with both the markdown language, and what stuff you actually tend to write down, you can start organising the notes, and worry about building weeklies, or monthlies, or whatever.

So one rather common setup for daily notes would be something along the following lines:

  • First of all enable daily notes: Settings (gear icon in lower left on desktop) > Core plugins > Daily notes
  • Configure the daily notes, by entering the gear icon next to Daily notes, or select it from Settings > (Core plugins) Daily notes. For starters I would set something like:
    • Date format: YYYY-MM-DD, which you’ll thank yourself for later on, as it auto-sorts, and is a very common format (aka ISO 8601)
    • New file location: Journal (you can create this folder)
    • After a little while, you might consider creating a template which prefills parts of your daily note for you, but I’d suggest writing some notes first to get the hang of it, and to discover what you actually want to write

With these setup, you can hit the calendar icon in the leftmost ribbon, and it’ll take you to your daily note, and you can type away. Take some time playing around with the formatting, and read the help section and look into the sandbox vault for ideas on formatting (but remember not to try to save anything in the sandbox vault, as it’s not going to be saved!!!)

Hope this is enough to get you started, and I wouldn’t make it more complicated than this, since you need to discover what you actually want to write and organise. Obsidian is in the end just a tool to help you organise your thoughts and notes, so your content should come before your organisation.

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