What Should I do?

Things I have tried

I read a minimum of 16 books a month. I have watched tons of obsidian videos. My mind is confused and scattered. I love cognitive learning, philosophy, computers, self-sufficiency, great literature, and learning Spanish and Latin. I am 68 and do not have a job. I have no idea how to hold this information in my vault or how to use it.

What I’m trying to do

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Well, it all depends…

What do you want to achieve? Why at all do you want to store that information - and which kind of information? For what purpose?

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I agree with @alltagsverstand that it depends on you. But here are some thoughts:


Have you read “How to Take Smart Notes”? It has a nice system, and also encourages you to keep it simple. I love that book.

A system only needs 4 tools:

  1. A capture system. Loose temporary notes. A mess. A notebook or an inbox. Anything. These notes are just for thinking. And later you can capture anything important. Don’t try to store everything you ever scratch down.
  2. The reference system (to keep track of where things came from) example, Zotero for citations.
  3. The slip box. ie. Obsidian where you store your notes.
  4. The editor. The way you’ll write and format final publications. This depends on what you’re writing, and for whom.

For #2 and #4, this is only really relevant to students, academics, or publishers who intend to create output. For personal, it can be as simple as writing the name of a book or the link to a webpage. It doesn’t have to be formal. If you are just exploring for personal use, then only #1 and #3 are essential to begin with.

If you want to keep a loose #1 inbox in Obsidian, you can set a folder where default notes go. You could call it “INBOX”. And then you know, any notes inside INBOX need to be filtered, sorted, or deleted.


Another thing I do, is a tip from Tiago Forte. I use the core plugin Random Notes. I set it to hotkey Cmd-R. And I set the community plugin “Smart Random Notes” (which can randomize from a search) to Cmd-Shift-R, so I can randomly search a single tag, or folder, etc. Sometimes if I’m just day-dreaming, I’ll jump from note to note and just explore.

For me, randomly searching through notes is a fun way to just casually explore the info I’ve collected. And if I come across something that needs organization or a bit of work, I tidy it up.


Our own mod Leah Ferguson did a talk on using OmniFocus plus Obsidian together.

I’m not using OmniFocus anymore. But the main takeaway is to use the right tool for the right job. Don’t try to fit everything in Obsidian if it doesn’t fit. She organizes her writing and projects and process in Obsidian. But OmniFocus still drives her tasks.

And you say you are learning Spanish and Latin. I know some people are trying to use Obsidian as an Anki deck for learning topics or languages. In my opinion, this is cramming too much into one tool. So if you find yourself struggling with any aspect of your workflow in Obsidian, make sure to ask, “is Obsidian the right tool for this aspect of my work?”

Obsidian can handle everything. But it doesn’t have to! I still manage my client projects outside of Obsidian in a project management app.


I hope that isn’t overwhelming, but you sound like a reader! :slight_smile:

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That was awesome. I have read How to take smart Notes and plan to read again. Also read How to Read a Book. I want to be of use to people so I continue to learn. I took my computer studies and grant writing to get 8 million from govt. to give away 20 thousand laptops to my city for free. I used linux and other free software. This helped in reducing the digital divide. Now I need something new to do.

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That sounds amazing! And it sounds like you’re familiar with writing for purpose.

For me, I’m learning how to write concept/pitch documents for multimedia projects. And I’m finding that I want to keep these documents outside of Obsidian, so they can be more clearly separated as part of my projects. Sticking all that inside Obsidian is making me feel overwhelmed too. (Ulysses, Craft, Google Docs, Miro, I’m not sure yet!)

But I still do all my brainstorming and notes and exploration in Obsidian.

This is a similar idea to what Leah was talking about, about the right tool for the job. Carl Pullein says don’t attempt to manage projects in a task manager: Why You Need To Stop Putting Projects in Task Managers - YouTube

And I think the idea holds in your notes in Obsidian. Something about turning your notes into ambitious projects may need to be separated. (But I don’t know you or your workflows, so take it all with a grain of salt. I’m mostly writing things I need to hear! :slight_smile: )