Use Obsidian To Manage Your Life: 4 Tips To Get Started

Have you discovered the Obsidian app? We looked at using Obsidian if you’re a fiction author.

Several authors in our writers’ group use Obsidian; a couple mentioned that there’s a big learning curve. One author gave up on Obsidian entirely. That’s a shame, because Obsidian can help you to manage your life.

Want to get started with Obsidian? You can, in minutes, because Obsidian is just a collection of plain text files in a folder.

Obsidian: it’s just a bunch of plain text files

Plain text has a big advantage over proprietary formats: it’s easily readable. If an app dies, it doesn’t matter, because you can edit your files using any text editor on your computer or device.

Over the years, I’ve lost a HUGE amount of work when software either messed up, or died, taking my work with it.

The best way to become familiar with Obsidian is to take your time. Initially, use it as you would any text editor.

To get started with Obsidian, use it as you use any text editor

Install Obsidian, and create a few notes—text files.

Any files, such as:

  • Notes for your current project;
  • Collections of ideas;
  • Shopping lists;
  • Task lists for the day, or a project list;
  • A bullet journal.

When you’re ready for more, begin with the official Help site. The developers’ point of view is that Obsidian is a Markdown (plain text with some formatting elements) editor, as well as a knowledge base. And that’s ALL you need to know to get started.

(BTW, if Markdown intrigues you, and you want to know more, here’s an excellent guide to Markdown.)

I fell in love with both Ulysses and Obsidian because I LOVE Markdown: you can turn a basic Markdown document into HTML or a PDF with just a couple of clicks. I love these two apps, and Scrivener, because they stop me procrastinating endlessly by tinkering with formatting and styles.

Let’s look at four tips to help you to get started.

1. Structure: folders, tags, or both? Or neither? (Just use links)

Everyone is different: here’s a Reddit thread on folder structure, if you choose to use folders. You can skip that, and create tags. Or you can just dump everything in and use links: create double brackets, to create a new note, or link to a current note.

In short, you can create lots of structure in Obsidian, or not.

My suggestion: don’t get too caught up in structure until you’ve used Obsidian for a month or so. You can drop into endless rabbit holes with Maps of Content (MOCs) and other structural matters. Stick with links, and tags and folders. Use Search to find notes.

2. Turn on any core plugins you need

In Settings, navigate to Core plugins.

Turn on any which make sense to you.

Obsidian’s core plugins

3. Explore community plugins: install what you need

Want to replace other software and mobile apps? (Yes, you can use Obsidian on your mobile device.)

This app is extendable: you can get it to do almost anything you need.

Here’s an excellent list of the 25 most-downloaded plugins. You’ll find plugins to turn Obsidian into anything you choose, even a writer’s studio, to write books and for self-publishing.

Of course, you can give Obsidian the appearance you most enjoy, using a theme—here’s an excellent article on the best note-taking themes.

4. Create a knowledge base (or not)

My natural tendency is to create notes prolifically. This is fine. There’s nothing wrong with creating thousands of files in a vault, and keeping them all. However, I like to weed out the dross so that my Zettelkasten research/ writing folder stays clean—it helps me to be more productive.

How you manage your Obsidian vault is up to you. It’s a process which changes as your life changes.


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At 24, not only is Molly Ballantine stunning, she has two sisters she loves, and a wonderful career. Then her eldest sister Tara vanishes, and her life disintegrates.

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Priscilla’s Destiny: Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 3

Priscilla’s Destiny: Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 3

22-year-old Priscilla Ballantine wakes up 200 years in the past, naked in the arms of handsome aristocrat, and master spy, Dominick de Roche, Lord Bellemieux. Priscilla's accused of spying, and is in danger of summary execution. She can't help thinking that she wouldn't be in such a mess if Dominick de Roche hadn't mistaken her for one of his contacts...

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Escape Across Time: Tara, Molly, & Priscilla (Time Travel Regency Romance Trilogy)
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