Why Do People Use Note-Taking Apps Like Obsidian for Everything Under the Sun?

I’ve been observing a trend where people use note-taking apps like Obsidian for a multitude of tasks that go beyond the app’s primary function of note-taking and knowledge management. While I understand that these apps are highly versatile and customizable, I can’t help but wonder why people are stretching their functionalities to the limit. While it’s great that the app with a bunch of plugins can handle these tasks, it seems like it’s being turned into a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ tool. Doesn’t this dilute the main purpose of the app, which is to serve as a powerful note-taking and knowledge management system?

Here are some questions I’d love to get your thoughts on:

  • Do you think using Obsidian (or similar apps) for various tasks affects its efficiency as a note-taking tool?
  • Is there a point where adding too many functionalities becomes counterproductive?
  • Why not use specialized apps for specific tasks? For example, a dedicated task manager for tasks, a CRM software for customer management, etc.
  • Are there any downsides to using a note-taking app for multiple purposes?

I’m genuinely curious to hear your opinions on this. Thanks for your time!

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  1. The limitation is user knowledge, and technology. See #2.

  2. You can get too reliant upon plugins, but I find it’s like climbing a sloped hill up to a plateau.

  • User joins Obsidian and does not know a lot, so they want to try all the things but its a steady upward curve of having all the things.
  • Then at the peak of all things, they find the tinkering takes away from their ability to actually do the things like write.
  • Thus, they remove some unnecessary extras, or find more efficient and easy ways to do the things, and they land at a plateau where they are comfortable and getting the things done.
  1. In Obsidian, the Data is your own, and it is in markdown files. Even if the plugin goes away, the base components and writing will still be there.

  2. Not really? Thats akin to asking is there any downsides to cooking stir fry in a sauce pan. You may not get bleeding edge, very hot pans, but your stir fry will still be very tasty.

Edit: I did not address the fact that everyone has their own individual learning style and ability. There is no “ONE TRUE WAY” of doing things and of learning. Anyone claiming you are going to learn less by using a 100% default Obsidian setup, is getting ready to sell you something or wants to feel proud that they did all of this on hard-mode.

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This is why I’m so grateful that the Obsidian team chose to design towards a plugin ecosystem, including all of the core features.

Evernote became crap because they added everything under the sun, and the app was awful and bloated with features I never wanted to use.

With Obsidian, I simply turn off most of the core plugins, and my app is lean and fast. I install the few community plugins I need to get it working as my ultimate PKM and off I go.

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One reason people might want to have everything in one app is that they find it bothersome to switch between different apps all the time. Another reason is that different things can be connected to each other. For example you have a task and you have a note with some info related to this task. You can link them within one app, but you can’t create a link between, say, Todoist and Obsidian, it won’t work.

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I totally agree with your perspective on the learning curve and the “plateau” of comfort. It’s like you start with a blank canvas in Obsidian, and as you learn, you add more colors and shapes. Eventually, you realize you might be overdoing it and scale back to what truly serves your needs. The beauty of Obsidian is that it allows for this kind of evolution. And you’re right, there’s no “one true way” to use it; it’s all about what works for you.

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Absolutely, the plugin ecosystem in Obsidian is a game-changer. It allows users to tailor the experience to their specific needs without overwhelming them with features they don’t want or need. This keeps the app lean and efficient, letting you focus on what you actually want to accomplish. It’s like having a Swiss Army knife where you get to choose the tools that go into it.

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Well, I’ve seen people organize their whole life around text files. todo.txt, calendar.txt, workingmemory.txt, txt journals, etc. So for those kinds of people putting those text files into Obsidian would be a natural transition.

For me, I moved away from putting everything in my daily notes as I made the same realization as OP. I now use a separate calendar & task manager. Daily notes is still used for journaling and meeting notes primarily.

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The two most obvious, main reasons I see are:

  • It’s all in one place. I realize I’m restating part of your question here, but for some people that is, in itself, part of the benefit. Just like carrying around a single day planner and storing your calendar, contact list, projects, etc. in it keeps you from having to carry around a whole stack of notebooks, so having an all-in-one program keeps you from having to constantly switch between apps.

This is especially beneficial when you only need it to be able to do some of those things minimally.

  • Linkability. If all of those things exist within your database, you can link them together.

With that said, I personally don’t use it as a task manager.

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Why would they not? You invest a lot of time and energy in learning a new tool and if it does the job better than other tools then just use it. Personally I don’t use the calendaring feature as i have not found any reason too and I don’t use another app for that. But if i found a need to, then i would probably use obsidians calendar as it’s there in an app i use all the time and it works.

I don’t use obsidian to write and edit code for instance because that’s not it’s job, so my normal setup is two monitors, one with obsidian running and the other with Visual Studio or VS Code. I switch between the two all the time. I could use visual studio to edit markdown but i would not get all the linking and other stuff that obsidian is so good at.

Basically don’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail or a hammer to cut something. Use the right tool for the right job.

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  1. Process of adding new features can be treated as an excuse from doing some tasks.
  2. They don’t know about Custom Frames plugin, which allow to insert another app like Google Keep inside Obsidian.
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First of all, taking all kinds of notes, including a calendar for the times you go to the bathroom, would be something valid and within the options and functions of Obsidian, which is basically offering a solid and adaptable structure to record information… whatever it may be.

Now we could discuss whether it is useful or not to take notes of everything… in my experience, I will say that it is not a bad practice, since the reality is that even if you feel like it, this does not last and over time you start to feel Just realize that not all notes are useful, not all topics have a “future” and of the 1000 things you do a day and that you start recording, more than half die along the way without having any significance in your life.

But this is good because along that path you have learned to take notes, summarize, look only for what you really know will be useful to you in 1 year. Many times it is not in the present where you make the summary but in the future, there are many notes that I review after a while that I have to correct, reedit, and simplify again because much of that information is no longer useful, no longer will be again, or the topic over time has become more stable and I have more “base” knowledge so I don’t need to be reminded of everything, just the trick, or the code for… and not the whole explanation and its history…
Now it’s worth trying to write down everything if you have a system to classify it, order it, and above all! locate it quickly? My opinion is yes.

In the last year I have seen how to access data from people I met years ago, phone numbers of people who no longer interested me but who at one point saved me, websites where I found the trick for what I needed at a time. given… and I spent 20 hours searching the internet, and now only 10 seconds, which is how long it took me to find it again when 2 years later it happened again…

books that I thought and swore I had not read and after rereading a note of mine I remembered, yes, and almost the book…

I have discovered that a lot of information never leaves our heads, it just “stops being indexed over time” and that is why it is difficult to remember or locate it after a while, and obsidian is like an overstimulated Google, with the help of Better and more powerful AI specialized in you and only you, makes your life easier

You are not going to be prettier, richer or smarter by having obsidian, but… you are going to save a lot of time, and time… is the most valuable currency in the universe so…

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Do you think using Obsidian (or similar apps) for various tasks affects its efficiency as a note-taking tool?

No. It just enhances the efficiency of your notes, documentation, knowledge and history. It’s always a place to look back upon

Is there a point where adding too many functionalities becomes counterproductive?

This is very individual. Personally I only use the functionality that makes me more productive in taking notes, and in documenting my personal work.

Why not use specialized apps for specific tasks? For example, a dedicated task manager for tasks, a CRM software for customer management, etc.

That segregates all the information that you have, and you lose useful functionality that makes this information “talk” to each other, as in linking and pulling in information when needed.

Are there any downsides to using a note-taking app for multiple purposes?

Could have it’s downsides for sure. For some it might become information overload, and for others this might be just how it should have always been.

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My drive is to make Obsidian the Emacs of the 21st century…

But for real: Pushing its limits can impact note taking efficiency, but is that the only outcome we’re selecting for? What about learning new ways to do things organizationally and creatively? Learning the slipbox method will surely impact efficiency, but over time it seems to help people with insights. A temporary drop in efficiency for a long term gain in managing your inputs and ideas.

I’ve been on both sides of this: tinkering my time away with new plugins and themes (god, the time I’ve spent with changing themes…), and finding a new workflow that just adjusts my brain like a chiropractor. With an audible crack and tension release. And as I incorporate more and more of my life into this system, I learn new ways of prioritizing and pruning. Which is fun and insightful, even if it’s inefficient some times.

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I use Obsidian for “nearly everything” because, at some point, I’ll need to revisit & reassess, ponder further, or use “it” again in a different context. Obsidian and AI puts me into a happy place with knowledge and creativity.

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I love this expression. I feel QuickAdd user scripts are init.el for Obsidian.

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I just obsidian for everything, for creating my emails before sending, planning my trips, calculating my monthly budget (usinf the spreadsheet plugin) , for storing my notes, for download webpages in pdf and store it, for store all my documents (as for examle my birth certificate, my grades, my DNI copy, my passport, etc), for storing information about the person I know, etc, for my projects, for planning my things with kanban, etc for absoluty everything.

Now I want to use my obsidian as a system explorer and connect each file of my computer to a note about what it is related to. For example, if I’m writting a Latex file or if I downloaded a movie, store the files in the obsidian vault and connect each important file to a note.

Do you think using Obsidian (or similar apps) for various tasks affects its efficiency as a note-taking tool?

Yes, it does. I can struture all my things in only one app.

Is there a point where adding too many functionalities becomes counterproductive?

yes, when adding big files, It can be difficult to sync them in several computers.

Why not use specialized apps for specific tasks? For example, a dedicated task manager for tasks, a CRM software for customer management, etc.

Because Obisidan contains all my personal things, so for example, if I want to plan a new project, this project will be related to another projects or notes that are inside my obsidian, so using obsidian I can related my notes to that project.

Are there any downsides to using a note-taking app for multiple purposes?

No, I just want that Obsidian have the funcionality of annotate PDF so I finnally abandon Zotero. The only app I think that obsidian will never change is VS code.

xd

I have two years using obsidian, despite that my obsidian and my workflow seems to be actually complex, I had 2 years to create it, it is not as I spend all my time configurating my obsidian, for each new thing i need i find a new way to added it to my vault.

Well, while I do know that there are other apps that are specific for what I do for fun (and hopefully in my future, as a job), Obsidian’s ability to link things is perfect. I write, by the way. I used to have a google doc for an outline and another one for writing itself, but changing between that and homework being scattered in between was super hard. Even with folders, things seemed empty and I felt so… bored of it? Lol, the aesthetics are amazing when you use Obsidian for everything. I can also link my journals to my writing ideas, as well as use some of the quotes I have been given in my notes for my books.

When you have ADHD like I do, switching between things is horrible. Have everything in one place. Be able to just search for a MOC, and find what you need within there. HOW AMAZING!

Obsidian is great for almost everything, except maybe for being an artist.

Since i responded to this post and after reading another one on here, I have started to use Obsidian in conjunction with Zotero and Scrivener. What is immediately noticable is that the last two tools don’t have a dark mode so when i switch between them in the evening i suddenly get a very bright screen which is rather disturbing ( I am autistic). I like using dark mode for everything since it helps me get to sleep better. The reason i use those other tools is that they are good at what they do, better than obsidian in fact for those tasks. So it’s a right tool for the purpose thing. I’ve had colleagues (also autistic) who try to do everything within the same tool because its convenient and jarring for them to switch around. It doesn’t always work out too well.

Scrivener has dark mode

It’s the windows version. How do you find that option?

OK, i found it in the windows menu. Nice!

Plus zotero has a night mode as well for those of you who are interested:

That makes working at night on all the apps i use much better…

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