Obsidian.md is a very popular tool, but apparently not as popular as I thought it would be. Introduced to me by a colleague when we were discussing options to build a knowledge base within the engineering team at our workplace.
I started playing around with it and very quicky replaced all of my various notes software Evernote, Notes.app (on MacOS) and Google Keep. Finally, I had a single source for all of my notes automatically synchronised to my iCloud and accessible from every device. It was how I operated my personal life, my Freelance work, open source projects I was working on, everything.
So, why is it so good?
Well, other than being Free to use (for an individual or non-profit) and whilst there are many features which you should certainly checkout for yourself, the features I will be discussing within this post are the ones that have improved my life and saved me enourmous amounts of time.
1) Creating my daily objectives as a simple checklist.
It's really important to be organised and keep focus, having my day generally planned out within my calendar helps me determine what I do and do not have time for on a given day. I can break down the tasks I need to complete for that day within a simple check list that I can check off as I go. I can also visualise my progress during the day at a glance to determine whether I'm on target or whether something may slip, perhaps reorganise things accordingly.
Another benefit is to use note linking using the
[[Page]] syntax, which allows me to link a given task to a completely separate note with more information, therefore keeping my checklist simple and visible allowing me to replace the Reminders app I was using.
2) Technical documentation using Markdown.
Considering I am maintaining documentation in Docusaurus; readme's and other docs within code repositories, Markdown is used for all of them and has a very simple syntax.
Writing my notes in markdown makes it especially faster to jot tehcnical things down such as psuedo code, diagrams, workflows, etc. To help me remember my thoughts later in time. I can drop images into the doc for future reference and create tables and other Markdown benefits.
3) Supports Mermaid for quickly drawing diagrams.
The amount of third-party software I have replaced simply by using Mermaid, this is easily the single-biggest improvement. Mermaid allows me to quickly throw together NoSQL document sturctures with code blocks, Entity Relationship Models, Class diagrams, Sequence diagrams and Flowcharts.
Quickly being able to stub these together with minimal information to begin with helps me get as much information down as possible, later I can update these notes with more detail - Labels, containers, loops, events and more.
4) Preparing my calls, meeting and One to One notes.
Recently I had to make a number of notes following a situation with my health, being able to quickly make notes on different Doctors I had spoken with, medications I had been taking, so when I see a specialist I have minimal but accurate information.
Being prepared for a One to One session with my line manager or colleagues who report to me helps keep the focus of the calls. Ensuring we cover their happiness at work, what they're currently learning for their professional development and any questions they might have which I could help them answer or find answers to. Obsidian helps me quickly check the list off and make any notes I might need, so later I can review them and see what actions I might need to take and check them off as I go.
5) Creating dashboards with Canvas.
We've all seen the detective TV shows or films where a task force wheels in their whiteboard and starts throwing together lots of notes and images linking things up and building out a picture over time, this is exactly how I like to use the Canvas, as a personal whiteboard.
Being able to embed sources such as websites or videos, links to notes to build a bigger picture quickly. It's also useful for designing and building out bounded contexts within a Domain-Driven Design and mapping out modules within a monolith or microservices and events being emitted or consumed across an application.
6) Viewing my notes via the Graph View.
A niche point but one I do find useful is the graph view, eventually constantly creating notes and perhaps without housekeeping allows me to understand how my notes relate to each other, whether I should compiled them into a single note, delete them or do nothing. It might be a gimmick which I don't use all that often, but I enjoy it.
If you didn't know about Obsidian or Mermaid, congratulations! 😂 now you do! Seriously though, if you've got lot's of apps for different tasks? I hope you've found this post useful.