Category: practically-paperless

Practically Paperless with Obsidian, Episode 3: The Basics: Emulating Evernote Features in Obsidian

pile of covered books
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Welcome to my blog series, “Practically Paperless with Obsidian.” For an overview of this series, please see Episode 0: Series Overview.

Back in Episode 1, I demonstrated what notes and documents are like in Obsidian. In Episode 2, I showed how I configure Obsidian to take advantage of plug-ins and settings that I find useful for this practically paperless experiment. In this episode, I’m bringing everything together to demonstrate how I emulate 4 basic features of Evernote in Obsidian. The four features are:

  1. Creating notes
  2. Tagging notes
  3. Creating to-do items
  4. Searching notes

These four features are at the core of what I do with notes on a day-to-day basis. Each of these features will be discussed more extensively in future episodes. For this episode, I just wanted to demonstrate how I am doing these four basic things with Obsidian today.

Creating notes

If I wanted to create a new note in Evernote, I would just click the New Note button, or press Cmd-n (on my Mac) and then type out my note. Kind of like this:

This creates a new note, with no title, so the note appears as “Untitled” unless I go ahead and add one. If I wanted to do the same thing in Obsidian, I’d simply press Option-z on my Mac. I have mapped the “Option-Z” command to the “Create a new Zettelkasten note” function in Obsidian. (I talked about this function briefly in Episode 2.) When I do this, I get a blank note with a title already filled–at least the Zettelkasten label portion of it, which for me is the current date and time in yyyymmddhhmm format. So here is what it looks like when I create the same note in Obsidian:

Simple. I can do this again and again. Also, because my note is given a Zettelkasten prefix in the title, I don’t have to title the note, if I don’t want to. Usually, however, I do, so once I’ve gotten the note jotted down, I’ll go back and append to the title, so that my note will look something like this:

Looking at #1 in the above image, you can see I modified my title so that it now includes more descriptive information. I’ll go into greater detail on just why I just the Zettelkasten prefix in Episode 6. But I’ll also hint at how it is useful when we discuss searching notes below.

Also, I wanted to point out that because I have mapped my Create Note keyboard command to the “Create new Zettelkasten note” function, I have the ability to define a default template that gets created for the note. In this case, I have a very basic template that includes the “tags:” line you see above the #2 and the — you see below it.

In Evernote, I can easily add media like images to my notes. I can do this just as easily in Obsidian, as well. For instance, suppose I have copied an image into my clipboard. To add that image to the note above, all I have to do is paste it into the image where I want it to appear.

As you can see in the above GIF, when I paste the image into the note, it appears as a note link reference (the part that you see my highlight). I can see the fully formatted note (and image) when I click the button to view the note in Preview mode. I could also have dragged an image from my filesystem onto the note with the same result. Any image (or other file) that I add to a note is stored in the vault in my default “attachments” folder. This folder can be defined in the Obsidian settings. For me, I store all attachments in a folder called “_attachments”. As far as Obsidian is concerned, this is just another note link and if I move the attachment to another folder, Obsidian will maintain the reference to the link so I don’t have to think about it.

Tagging notes

Now that I’ve added a note, suppose I want to tag it. In Evernote, I could go to the Tag bar at the bottom of the note and begin typing the tags that I want to add to the note. It looks something like this:

I can do the same thing in Obsidian. Moreover, I can type a tag anywhere I want in the note. All tags in Obsidian begin with the hashtag mark (#). Being able to tag anywhere in the note is useful because notes in Obsidian can be searched by their component parts, sections for instance. In the example below, I’ll add a tag to the tag line of my template, and then I’ll add a new section to the note and add a tag there as well.

Note that as I type # and the start typing a tag, I get a list of matches, just like I do in Evernote. Also, when I switch to Preview mode, the tags appear with boxes around them. That is how the tags are styled as part of the Yin and Yang theme I discussed in Episode 2. I’ll have a lot more to say about tagging in Episodes 9 and 10.

Creating to-do items

A new feature recently added to Evernote is the ability to add tasks to notes. In Obsidian, tasks are called “to-do” items and I can add a to-do item anywhere in a note by typing [ ] for a “open” (uncompleted) to-do item, or [x] for a completed one. Here is my note with 2 to-do items:

If I look at this new in Preview mode, the theme renders the to-do items properly:

Obsidian keeps track of to-do items and they can be searched by their state as we will see in the next section.

Searching notes

Finally, if I need to find a note in Evernote, I use its search feature, and I can do the same thing with Obsidian. In some ways, each application has its advantages over the other when it comes to searching. Evernote can search the text within PDFs, and Obsidian can’t yet do that (but I suspect it will be able to do this in the future). Obsidian, on the other hand, can search using regular expressions, something Evernote doesn’t do.

I have a whole set of Episodes planned discussing how I find notes in Obsidian. For this episode, I am going to keep it simple, to a few basic examples.

Searching for text in a note

Often, I am just looking for note with a particular term in it. In these instances, the easiest thing to do is search all the notes for that term. For instance, Bob Uecher had a great quote about knuckleballs. I can’t remember the quote, but I know Uecher said it, so here is what happens when I search for “Uec” in Obsidian:

Here is what is happening in the GIF above:

  1. I click on the “Search” tab.
  2. In the search field, I type “uec”
  3. In the search results I select the match I want to display the note.
  4. In the note, you can see the text I searched for is highlighted in yellow.

Quick search by note date

Like Evernote, Obsidian has the ability to search notes by date. Obsidian uses the file dates for these searches. In Evernote, however, you could go in and change the Create date of a note. I found this useful because I often matched the create date of a note to the date on a document. In Obsidian, I could change the create date of a note using an operating system command. But there is an easier way to do this, and this is where the Zettelkasten prefix in my note titles come in handy.

Say, for instance, I wanted to search for all notes from October 3, 2021. Assuming I use my Zettelkasten prefix in my note titles, all I need to do is type the following into the search: 20211003:

Here, you can see that my search results in 6 notes that are prefixed with that date. I can click on a note to see its contents. Note also that one of the matches is my daily note for 10/3/2021. Even though the note doesn’t have a Zettelkasten prefix, because there is a reference to a note with such a prefix within the note, it shows up in the list of matching notes.

Searching by note tag

By adding a “tag:” prefix to my search, I can search notes by tag. I can have multiple tags within my search if I want. For example, suppose I wanted to search for any notes that I have tagged #baseball and #lists. Here is what it looks like in my Obsidian vault:

Searching for tasks (to-do items)

Finally, I can also search by tasks and their status (either incomplete, or what Obsidian calls “to-do”, or done). Suppose I want to search for any notes in October 2021 with incomplete tasks. Here is what that search looks like in Obsidian:

Here is what is happening:

  1. I’m searching for any file that contains a name 202110 (i.e., 2021 (year) 10 (month)).
  2. And I’m also searching for any notes that contain incomplete tasks: task-todo:””

That results in a single note–the one I created at the very beginning of this post. The note title begins with 202110, and highlighted within the note in yellow is the single incomplete task for the month.


The purpose of these first three episodes was to set a baseline for folks who have never seen or used Obsidian to demonstrate how its features can be used as an alternative to Evernote. With the basic posts out of the way, the real fun can begin. Going forward, beginning with Episode 4, I’ll begin to show how I am using Obsidian to go practically paperless. These will be more real world use case-driven posts as opposed to these basic getting started posts. In episode 4, I’ll talk in more detail about how I create notes. In episode 5, I’ll recreate one of my first Going Paperless posts and talk about how I scan documents into Obsidian.

See you here next week!

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Practically Paperless with Obsidian, Episode 2: The Basics: My Obsidian Configuration

settings android tab
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Welcome to my blog series, “Practically Paperless with Obsidian.” For an overview of this series, please see Episode 0: Series Overview.

In the first episode in this series, I discussed the basic objects in Obsidian: notes and documents. In this episode, I want to step back and talk more broadly about Obsidian itself. In order to best understand I how I use Obsidian as an Evernote substitute, I want to highlight some features of Obsidian that I use in order to get the most out of it for my paperless notes. There are two reasons I am doing this:

  1. There are some features that are not enabled by default but that I have found particularly useful.
  2. I know from experience that people will ask about what themes and plug-ins I am using in Obsidian and this makes a nice post to which I can point people for an answer.

Also, I am trying something new beginning with this episode:

  • I am creating animated GIFs to help illustrate some of the things I discuss1, something I never tried with my Going Paperless posts, so please bear with me as I figure this out. It’a a learning experience for me.

My preferred Obsidian theme: Yin and Yang

One limitation I found in Evernote is that I never had much control over the look and feel of the tool. The current version2 as of this writing allows you to configure Light or Dark mode, but that’s about it. This may not seem that important. After all, Evernote and Obsidian specialize in storing information (the former in the cloud, the latter locally in your filesystem). More and more, however, modern text editors and IDEs are being designed with a great deal of flexibility in how they look and feel. Editors like Atom, Sublime, and IDEs like Visual Studio Code all allow customization of the user interface through the creation of themes that manipulate the styles of objects that appear on the screen. Obsidian is among these tools. In Obsidian, themes are nothing more than CSS files that you can download from a community, or even create on your own.

My preferred Obsidian theme is called Yin and Yang and can be found in the Obsidian by going to Settings > Appearance > Themes, and clicking the Manage button to view a list of community themes. Obsidian themes can be used dark and light mode. Given how much time I spend on screens, I prefer dark mode.

So how do themes alter the look and feel of Obsidian? Let me illustrate. Below is what Obsidian looks like out-of-the-box in light mode (and notice that the Obsidian Help is just another Obsidian vault):

And here is what Obsidian looks like when I change it from light to dark mode:

Switching to Dark mode in Obsidian

With those images in mind, here is how Obsidian looks with the Yin and Yang theme. The image on the left is a note in edit mode; on the right is the same note in preview mode.

This is my own preference. You can keep the default theme, use one of the 70+ community themes, or create a new theme entirely on your own3

A few additional useful UI tweaks

Folding headings and lists

As I mentioned in Episode 1, notes are nothing more than plain text files that use Markdown to format the content. One nice feature that Obsidian comes with out of the box is the ability to fold your headings and lists. These features have to be enabled in the Editor settings as shown below.

Once you’ve enabled these features, you can open and close headings to show and hide the text within the heading. Using my note on my Retro Posts above as an example, here is how folding headings work:

The same works for lists. If you have a list, like an outline, each level of the list is foldable. I find both of these features very useful for focus. If I want to concentrate on just one part of a note, I can easily fold other parts so that they don’t distract me.

Useful “core” plug-ins

Obsidian comes with “core” plug-ins that are packaged with the application. There are also community-based plug-ins. In this section, I’ll talk about the “core” plug-ins that I find most useful in my pursuit of going practically paperless.

Daily notes

Daily notes are a fundamental part of Obsidian, and they are also a fundamental part of my efforts to go practically paperless with Obsidian. They are so important, that I’ll have an entire episode dedicated to them in January4. Daily notes are simply notes that you can associate with a given day. These notes have a special naming convention that uses the date to form the name of the note. This makes it useful when linking other notes to this date. Obsidian knows about all of the “backlinks” to a note–that is, all of the other notes in your vault that are linked to that note. I have actually automated my daily notes so that they are generated automatically each night, and pull in information from my calendars, making them even more useful.

Daily notes act as a kind of index to many of my other notes in Obsidian. They take the place of my timeline concept in Evernote.

An example of a daily note in Obsidian
An example of a daily note in Obsidian

Daily notes can be enabled in Settings > Core Plugins.

Starred notes

At any given moment, I have one or more notes that I use frequently, and want to be able to access quickly. This is what “starred” notes are for. After enabling this core plug-in from the Settings > Core Plugins menu, you can “star” a note. Once starred, that note will be available for quick access on the Star panel on the lefthand side of the screen. Starring a note is like creating a note shortcut in Evernote.

The starred note panel displays a list of notes that have been "starred" for quick access.
The starred note panel displays a list of notes that have been “starred” for quick access.

Zettelkasten prefixes

This one is a mouthful, but it refers to a fascinating method for organizing notes. I don’t use this method in its strict interpretation, but I have borrowed liberally from it for my own notes–especially my reading notes. Because of Obsidian’s ability to link notes and illustrate the relationships between notes, it has become a particularly useful tool for those who wish to have a digital Zettelkasten.

But back to the plug-in. This plug-in does 2 things:

  1. It allows you to define a “prefix” for your note titles based on a date format. If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that many of my note titles begin with a long number combination like 202110111506. This number is just the current date and time in yyyymmddhhmm format. When I create a note using a prefix, Obsidian automatically generates the prefix and I can add more to the title if I want. Having the date in this format is more powerful than it may seem. When searching for notes, for instance, I have a convenient way of searching by date, something I will discuss in much more detail in Episode 11.
  2. You can also, optionally, define a template for your note so that when your note is created, not only is there a title prefix, but there can be other information preloaded in the note. This can save a lot of time, and help with standardization. When I create a new note, here is what my basic template looks like:

I’ll have more to say about Zettelkasten and note titles in Episode 6.

Useful community plug-ins

In addition to having community-developed themes, there are also some amazing community plug-ins that have been developed for Obsidian and the list keeps growing. Here are the community plug-ins that I find most useful:

Calendar

The calendar plug-in provides a quick way to get to your daily notes (if you are using them). Since I use daily notes constantly, the calendar provides an easy way to navigate quickly to the note I am looking for. In this example, I am using the calendar to navigate to my daily note from October 3:

The dots in the calendar are days in which I have daily notes. The more dots on a given day, the longer the note. It is a very cool plug-in and the first community plug-in I installed when I began using Obsidian.

Natural language dates

Dates are important in my paperless taxonomy because they tell when things occurred. Obsidian allows you to format dates in any desired format. My daily notes use the format yyyy.mm.dd.DDD, or 2021.10.11.Mon. If I create a note link in Obsidian to “2021.10.11.Mon” it will link to my daily note from that date.

The Natural Language Dates allows you to quickly create these note links using natural language, like “yesterday”, “today”, or “tomorrow”. I’ll use this frequently on in timeline sections of notes that refer to dates.

Using the plug-ins

These plug-ins make it much easier for me to zip through creating notes, linking them together the way want to, and have the notes appear the way I want on the screen. As we progress through future episodes, you’ll see me using these plug-ins frequently. I wanted to have a post to which I could refer people to list those plug-ins and setting that I find most useful. There are other plug-ins that I use, but not as frequently, and I’ll discuss them in the context of how I use them to perform certain activities in future episodes.

In episode 1 I showed the basics of notes and documents in Obsidian. In this episode, I discussed the settings, themes, and plug-ins most useful to my note-taking in Obsidian. Both episodes set the stage for next week when I illustrate how I emulate basic Evernote features in Obsidian. Hopefully this will provide a like-for-like comparison of how I did basic things in Evernote and how I can do those some basic things (with improvements) in Obsidian. See you back here next week!

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  1. For those wondering, I am using GIPHY Capture for the Mac to create these GIFs.
  2. v10.22.3
  3. At one point, as an experiment, I created a theme to make Obsidian look like Word for DOS 5.5, my all-time favorite word processor.
  4. Episode 16, if you are curious.

Practically Paperless with Obsidian, Episode 1: The Basics: Notes and Documents

white stacked worksheets on table
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Welcome to my blog series, “Practically Paperless with Obsidian.” Foran overview of this series, please see Episode 0: Series Overview.

Nearly 10 years ago, I began an experiment to see if the elusive paperless office was actually possible. That series, Going Paperless, was my attempt to use Evernote and other tools to go completely paperless. After several years, my conclusion was that it was not really possible for me to go completely paperless. In the years since, I’ve returned to paper for several things, but still enjoy the efficiencies of having information I need at my fingertips. In examining the lessons I learned from my paperless experiment, I realized that, as with most things, moderation is key. There is a difference between going completely paperless, and looking to be paperless in the practical sense. That is what this series is all about.

Instead of Evernote, I’ve decided to use Obsidian instead. I’ve written about why I want to use Obsidian elsewhere, but the gist of it is:

  • files are plain text, which makes them essentially future-proof;
  • files are stored locally instead of on someone else’s server (unless you want to store your files in a cloud system like iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.);
  • it has a great note-linking function that I will make heavy use of as we progress through this series.

Of course, if you are following along, you don’t have to use Obsidian. Evernote still works for much of what I’ll be discussing. If you are not going to use Obsidian, you can safely skip the first three episodes of this series, as they focus on setting a kind of baseline with the tool for moving forward through subsequent episodes.

The first 20 episodes in this series build upon one another. I am using them as a guidepost for getting me to where I want to be. The first 3 episodes establish some basics, beginning here with how I plan on storing my notes. A note can be anything, text, a document, and image. When I think about what I want to be able to capture in digital form, I think of notes in two categories: notes and documents.

Notes in Obsidian

A note is just a markdown file (.md) file in Obsidian. Markdown, for those not familiar, is a plain text file in which special markup can be used to format the note. This is light markup, not as elaborate as, say HTML. In a plain-text markdown file, for instance, if I want to bold some text, I surround it with a double asterisk **like this**.

For me, notes are distinguished from documents in that a note is a markdown file. A document is something else, like a PDF or an image file. I’ll discuss those files in a moment. Notes can be viewed in two ways within Obsidian. They can be viewed in edit mode, where you can see the markup’s that you add to the note; and they can be viewed in Preview mode, which renders the notes fully formatted. Here is an example the same note rendered in edit mode and preview mode in Obsidian. You can use the slider bar to see how they look different.

Figure 1: Comparing a note in edit and preview mode.

Notes are where the majority of my paperless stuff goes. The note in the example above is from my “commonplace” notebook, a collection of notes and highlights from my reading. At its most basic, a note in Obsidian is a file on your file system. The note has title1, and it has the same file attributes as any file on your file system: create date, modified date, permissions, etc. I’ll have more to say about note titles in Episode 6.

Obsidian uses the concept of a “vault” to store notes. A vault is nothing more than a folder on your computer. Obsidian controls and monitors the files and folders within that vault folder. This is incredibly useful. It means that you can move notes around within your vault and Obsidian will take care of maintaining the links that notes have to other notes automatically.

Note-linking is a key reason why I love Obsidian and I’ll have a lot more to say on it in Episodes 17 and 19. For now, note links are simply links to other notes in your vault. In the example above, the “[[202109220957 Natural Questions]] on the “source” line is an example of a note link. Clicking on the link takes you to that note.

Just like in Evernote, notes can have tags. Obsidian uses the hashtag format for tags. In the example above, you can see two tags: #discovery and #favorite. One difference between tags in Obsidian and Evernote is you can refer to tags anywhere in a note in Obsidian. And because Obsidian’s search capabilities are very granular, that means that sections or even lines of a note can appear in search results, making tags quite powerful. I’ll have more to say about tagging in Episodes 7-10.

Notes, then, are containers for information you want to capture. They are the basic unit of storage in Obsidian. You can create notes quickly with a hot key and start typing. Obsidian saves as you type so you don’t have to worry about remembering to click a Save button.

Notes have one other very powerful feature in Obsidian that they lack in Evernote: transclusion. Transclusion allows you to include a note within another note. When I read, I highlight passages, and those passages, after I review them, each get their own note in Obsidian. Here is an example from when I was reading Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life by Robert Dallek:

Figure 2: An example note in Obsidian

For books with notes, I keep a “source” note to collect all of the notes related to that book together, as well as any other thoughts I might have about the book not captured in a specific note. Rather than have to copy and paste the notes into the source note, I can “transclude” the note into the source instead, thus reusing the existing note, almost as if it were a subroutine. Here is my source note for the book in Edit mode:

Figure 3: A note with transcluded note links in edit mode

In the “Notes” section, note that all I did was include links to my notes on the books. Note the ! that precedes each note link? That is what tells Obsidian to transclude the note in Preview mode. So when I look at this note in Preview mode, what I see is:

Figure 4: A note with transcluded note links in Preview mode.

Each of the two note links are transcluded–they include the entire note–within the note in which they are references. This turns out to be incredibly useful with documents.

Documents in Obsidian

I think of a document as something other than a note. Much of what I collected in Evernote over the years were scanned PDFs, or PDFs automatically sent to Evernote through a service like FileThis. Think: bank statements, tax forms, official documents, instructions for household appliances, etc.

Obsidian has the ability to keep track of and render certain types of documents files, among them PDFs and image files. You have the ability to store these files right along with your notes, or you can separate them out into their own folders in a number of different ways. I’ll have more to say on this in Episode 2.

In order to keep things simple, I created a folder called “_attachments” in which any and all document files go. This includes PDFs, image files, and any other files that fit this category. The reason for this is that I don’t just use the bare attachment file, but I couple it with a note in order to gain the benefit of all of the Obsidian functionality that comes with notes. Let me give an example.

We recently got a new microwave oven, which I ended up installing myself. Information about electronics and appliances is something that I actually use from time-to-time, and just as I did in Evernote, I created a note for the new microwave in Obsidian.

Figure 5: My new microwave oven note

I use a similar format for all electronics and furniture because it means I have one centralized place to go for anything related to that thing. Obsidian has the ability to create templates for notes, similar to Evernote. I’ll discuss this in more detail in Episode 8. The “Timeline” section is a running timeline of events related to the microwave. If, for instance, I had to call for support, I’d add an entry to the timeline to record information about that call to support. All of the information I need is right there and easy to locate.

Note that there is a translcuded note link for the Owner’s Manual PDF file. I put the PDF file in my “_attachments” folder, but I don’t have to worry about where it is. When I go to add the link, I just start typing and Obsidian presents me with a list of matches anywhere in my vault. Because it is a transcluded note link, when I look at this note in Preview mode, what I see is:

Figure 6. The microwave note in Preview mode with the PDF included

I have the ability to scroll through the pages of the PDF, or print the PDF if I want to. It’s all right there, included as part of the note on the new microwave oven. Many notes are just the document itself, so the note will contain nothing but a title, some tags, and then a transcluded link to the actual note, say a bank statement or tax form. This gives the added benefit of searching the meta-data in the note to find what I am looking for. I’ll illustrate more examples of this when I talk about finding note in Episodes 15-17.

Notes are just files in the filesystem

I want to stress the point that these note are just files in my file system. This is a big difference from Evernote, which stored notes as objects on their server, which could be downloaded to your client. Here is a look at what my vault in Obsidian looks like (on the left) and a similar look at what this looks like on my filesystem (on the right):

The “DFC” is the name I gave my vault in Obsidian. It stand for “Digital Filing Cabinet.” I can open any of these notes outside of Obsidian in a text editor and still be able to read and use (and even update) the note. For instance, opening the microwave note looks as follows on my Mac’s TextEdit app:

Figure 8. An Obsidian note opened in a text editor app.

Establishing a baseline

I wanted to begin this series with something simple, illustrating how notes are captured in Obsidian, because I wanted to establish a baseline. I wanted to give people who are used to using a tool like Evernote or OneNote an idea of how their notes might be stored in a tool that is essentially a fancy text editor. To that end, I identified two types of notes that I capture–notes and documents–and showed how I am using these separately and in combination to capture notes in Obsidian similar to how I captured them in Evernote. I was trying to answer the question: what would my notes look like in Obsidian?

Again, as I attempt to go practically paperless, I’m using Obsidian because it is simple, future-proof, and doesn’t require paying for cloud service if you don’t want one. Documents are stored locally and because they are plain text files with some PDFs and images in the mix, you can use your OS to manage the files, and even search the files. Running a Spotlight search for “LG Microwave” on my Mac instantly returns the following:

Figure 9. A spotlight search turns up files in my Obsidian vault.

But I like Obsidian because of its note-linking capability, as well as its ability to manage the vault, keeping links updated even as I move notes around in the vault. It also has some powerful search capabilities that even Evernote lacks (like regular expression searches). And it provides an interface that separates my notes from other things that I do. This series will focus on using Obsidian as I attempt to go practically paperless, but I hope it is clear that other tools can work as well. This just happens to be the one that I think is best suited for this task.

Next week: Continuing down the path of establishing the basics for this experiment, next week will focus on Obsidian and how I have configured it to take advantage of features and plug-ins that I think are most useful for managing my notes. A week later, in Episode 3, I’ll show how I emulate some of Evernote’s useful features in Obsidian.

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If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

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  1. You’ll notice that my note titles begin with a long number. That is by choice, I will explain why I do this in more detail in Episode 6. For now, don’t worry about it.

Practically Paperless with Obsidian, Episode 0: Series Overview

a person writing on a graphing paper
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A few weeks ago, I announced a new series, “Practically Paperless,” in which I was going to take lessons from my original Going Paperless series and apply them to a more practical approach for a partially paperless lifestyle, using Obsidian instead of Evernote. To read about my rationale for doing this, see my original post.

Administrivia

The first official episode of this new series will appear tomorrow, but I wanted to have an introductory post to take care of addressing some basic administrivia related to the series. Thus, Episode 0. So, here are some items that you can consider an overview for the new series.

  • One of the big lessons I took from my going paperless experiment with Evernote was that I still enjoy using paper for some things. The reason is call this new series “practically paperless” is to emphasize that I am looking to go paperless where it is most practical; I’m no longer convinced that a completely paperless lifestyle is either possible or practical for me. I’m looking for what is practical.
  • Each episode will attempt to focus on one specific thing. I don’t want to confuse things by addressing multiple topics in a single episode. This will be useful down the road when folks want to refer back to a specific topic.
  • I have outlined the first 20 episodes in the series. For these first 20 episodes, the order matters. Each episodes sets a foundation for the next episode. By the end of the first 20 episodes, I should be in a place where I am using Obsidian as a replacement for Evernote and able to do all of the basics that I was able to do when I used Evernote.
  • All episodes (including this one) will be categorized under “practically-paperless”. You can also find a index page to the series on the Blog Series menu at the top of the page. Select “Blog Series” and then click “Practically Paperless.”

Here is an overview of the first 20 episodes:

General themeEpisodes
Establishing a baseline in Obsidian1-3
Getting notes into Obsidian4-5
Ensuring notes are easily searchable6-11
Getting from Evernote to Obsidian12-14
Finding notes15-17
Curating notes18-20

Schedule for the series

Originally, I thought I’d have a new post every other week, but I’ve changed my mind about that, and for at least the first 2 episodes, the series will appear weekly as follows:

  • A new episode will appear each Tuesday morning at 8 am Eastern Time beginning Tuesday, October 5, 2021.
  • Currently no episode will appear on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, as I wanted to give myself a little bit of a break around the holidays.
  • That means there should be a new episode each week beginning tomorrow and continuing through February 22, 2022 (skipping January 4).

Beginning on March 1, 2022, I’ll begin to move into more specific topics of how I am doing things with my paperless notes in Obsidian. These will depend the foundation established by the first 20 episodes, but should no longer depend on one another.

I’ll continue the series for as long as I have ideas to write about, and wind it down once I think I’ve covered enough. At this point, I think I have at least of year’s worth of posts, but we’ll see how things go.

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