I have an update! Thanks to everyone’s advice here and me taking bits and pieces from other forum posts, I’ve been able to slap together a rudimentary system! There’ll be a lot of trial and error, and figuring out what works, but I’m excited for it! I’m still getting used to what I see as ‘more advanced’ features of obsidian (I have like 0 experience with any kind of coding or formatting, but I learn quickly!) so it’s nowhere near what I know it could be, however I’m still proud of it! Here’s what I have so far:
I adopted the PARA system, which I may alter and adjust in the future but for now it works well. I was already using a nested folder system for my book notes, so using PARA felt the most natural to me. I also have my DAILY NOTES (labeled 1-Dailies) on top. My templates folder sits under RESOURCES with other subfolders labelled for my classes where I’ve dumped all links and PDFs relevant to that class - at the start of each week, I add the relevant links provided at the start of assignments - and then link to them internally from my class notes, which sit in my AREAS OF INTEREST folder with the #triage tag until I’m satisfied with them and have “made them pretty” (my main mantra right now is ‘just get down the information, make it pretty later’) enough to archive. I do use Zettel notes, mostly to log and keep track of long term assignments or anything I don’t finish within the day I start them. I use the Checklist plugin, so it’s especially helpful here.
I’ve also made a couple templates, one for my dailies and one for class discussion notes - I take online classes, so we have forum style discussions every week. I keep track of these with the #correspondence tag and link to any/all relevant assignments and resources on that week’s topic. They’re not very sophisticated, but they suit my needs just fine at the moment!
I have a “home base” note where I start my day just before opening my daily. I don’t add anything to this note typically, it simply holds basic reminders (take meds, eat breakfast, etc) and a schedule I’ve laid out for both my classes and my general day-to-day life (I unfortunately have to have every minute planned out or I get nothing done, and yes this includes free time ). I’ve already discovered that the initial classwork schedule I set up won’t work, as I have standing assignments for each one due every Wednesday and I had it set up to focus on one subject a day which would have meant that assignment for that class would always be late. And while it’s a little irritating having to change the schedule, I know in the long run it’s better to adapt instead of forcing things to work for me when they won’t.
There’s a lot of fighting with my own brain about a lot of things, so I find myself asking questions like “What if this schedule doesn’t work any better than the last one? What if PARA doesn’t work for us? What if this, what if that, what if what if what if” over and over, and normally that sets my anxiety skyrocketing and makes it difficult for me to proceed with anything. But! I was able to confidently answer myself with “Then we adjust and try again.” every time, and now the possibility of failing is much less scary. These are things that don’t have the detrimental consequences my brain thinks they do. Will the world end if PARA doesn’t work? Nah, I’ll just be mildly inconvenienced for a little bit while I find something that does, and that’s ok!
So far, my favorite thing is the overall emphasis on taking note “in your own words”. I’ve of course been told this before, but I’ve also always been in classes where our notes were part of our assignments and we had to turn them in so there were expectations on the “voice” you wrote them in. Since no one but myself will see my Obsidian vaults unless I share anything, I’m a lot more comfortable interpreting “write in your own words” quite literally. I enjoy writing/speaking “formally” sometimes, but I’m also a 27 year old millennial with like 4 total braincells who has a lot more fun tossing around memes and slang and making jokes with my friends all the time. It makes my notes more fun to read and write, and makes them feel more special because they’re mostly entirely incomprehensible to everyone else.
Thanks so much to everyone who’s offered advice so far, and with any luck my system will continue to grow and adapt to better reflect my needs as I progress through the semester!