I have been using Obsidian since 2021 to take notes and keep myself organized. Over that time, my use of Obsidian has expanded and now it is critical to my daily workflow, for my work, my personal and professional development and my physical and mental health.
Obsidian allows me to keep technical notes, study for test and organize my thoughts.
Obsidian helps me track my personal goals and development.
Obsidian helps me keep on top of my work projects and tasks. I am more effective at my job and better prepared since I started to use Obsidian as part of my daily workflow.
How I have improved because of Obsidian
Obsidian was critical to my preparation for and passing of the CISSP, NSE7 and Azure Security Engineer Associate exams that I’ve taken in 2023. I passed these 3 exams in March, May and August respectively - and I would not have been able to do that in the same timeframe without Obsidian.
I work as a consultant, I am always working with multiple clients, that means I have a constantly fluctuating task list - from big projects to minor requests - that need to be tracked, actions taken, items delegated, and statuses followed up on. Before I started using Obsidian for managing my workflow I had tried other task software - online task trackers, wiki-based interfaces, Kanban style trackers, I think I’ve tried nearly everything out there over the last 15+ years. But after trying them for a few weeks, I always went back to a plain paper notebook.
Every other tool had some great features, but as a consultant I need to be able to track my time, in addition to status and next actions. Time tracking was never a built-in feature of any of the apps I tried, but it was always a thing I could write down in my notebook.
Obsidian helps me track my tasks and my time, just like a notebook has, but it’s even better - because I can keep a “daily note” and copy and paste yesterday’s details into today’s note, then remove the items that don’t need to be brought forward and add new items that come up.
I use Obsidian to track my progress towards goals and keep track of the habits I’m looking to maintain or develop. I maintain a gratitude journal in Obsidian. I track my daily caloric burn, if I went to the gym, did I get to bed before a specific time to make sure I’m getting enough sleep, so that I keep making progress towards my health and strength goals. I track if I went to the driving range, journaled, and meditated to keep my mental health up.
The Technical Bits
I’m able to do all this with Obsidian because of two main features
- the contents of Obsidian are just text files and
- the application is extensible via plugins.
The text file structure is important because it doesn’t apply any silly constraints like the size of a piece of paper and text files also allow for easy formatting using Markdown syntax - which is quick to add and flexible.
The plugin support extends the application to increase the functionality - for example there is a built in Template plug in, it works well for populating a new note with simple content. However, Obsidian also supports community developed plugins - like the Templater plugin, which I use because it provides additional options. There are a few other plugins that I’m using currently.
Reflecting on my last 2 or so years of using Obsidian to write this has been an interesting process. I have been self-motivated to achieve goals and improve for a long time, but adding the structure that Obsidian helps me provide to myself has accelerated my progress by helping me stay focused on the things I’m working on for longer so that my progress continues to build on itself. That compounding improvement has spread to so many parts of my life. I haven’t come across a similar tool that could so easily slot into so many parts of my life and provide such a huge payback.