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how to setup obsidianmd with para, note taking & tasks

This article describes how you setup your work environment to be productive. I'm a knowledge worker so, at the core at what I do is writing. Therefore, this setup focuses on my writing environment. It use Obsidian to organize what I you do and write. The high-level structure are PARA folders.1 You'll create and configure folder, plugin, and template to setup the general organization & usability, the task management & note taking and finally the folders for projects, areas, and resources. The setup avoids plugins & fancy features. If you have ideas to simplify the setup mail me I'm always happy to improve 😊

Organization & Usability

  1. Plugin Folder Notes:2 I use folder notes so I can organize projects and areas in folders and have one entrypoint to the folders.
  2. Plugin Dataview:3 I query in the daily note the open task to get a overview.
  3. Folder templates: I create template folder.

I suggest you add some convenience plugins:

Task Management & Note Taking

I use simple to-do checkboxes within projects and other files4. To add due dates I use a text expander snippet to add the task is due on syntax of the dataview plugin ( 🗓@ ) to tasks. The @ automatically triggers the natural dates plugin. Then I use dataview to query an overview of the tasks. Each evening I look at tasks-overview & task-due and add timeboxes for the next day to the calendar. To plan5 the I add information about the situation, notes, and tasks to the timebox calendar entry .6 The next morning just typing ;agenda into my daily note. This snippet creates the day's agenda from my calendar with a script.

  1. Create the tasks-overview, and task-due templates in the templates folder: I use the note to show me all open tasks. I use the overview to plan my next day.
  2. Create a the journals folder for the daily notes.
  3. Configure the periodic notes plugin to create a new notes each day where I outline my agenda and note. I use day_template template for each day with sections for the agenda, notes and a link to the task overview query7.
  4. I use the calendar-to-agenda.py script to transform my calendar into my agenda.8


I create for each of my project a folder with a folder note.9 Then I initialize the project with my project template. The project template includes a checklist with tasks (with some standard tasks depending on the project type), a section for done tasks and a section for resources. After I initialized the project, I write down the open tasks. Later after I've finished the tasks, I document them in the archived section. The goal is to read the archived section and understand what happened.

  1. Create the 01_PPROJECTS folder and a folder note that holds a list of projects and a list of someday projects (they might be just some text). For each project write down the KPI and the release schedule and the DRI10.
  2. Create a template: project8
    tags: type/project
    The minimal viable outcome (KPI) of this project is ...
    - [ ] #DRI/DS executed along ....
    ## what happened
    ## Footnotes & Resources
  3. For each project create a folder with a folder node based on the project template

For each (planned) result in a project only write the achievement and the DRI (with # and DRI/Name). Write the details in an article linked in the one-line description. This then also allows us to use the Kanban plugin if we want. The articles also link to the resources.

Optional: If you have project that require writing complex document, I suggest you use the Longform plugin to better write and edit your text.


I create for each (private) area where I maintain a standard a folder including a folder note inside 02_AREAS. I initialize the folder note with my area template. The area template contains goal (key results) and regular habits that help to maintain the standard. These habits lead to timebound projects with clear goals in a certain (short timespan). Finally, I collect valuable information in the resources & footnotes section.

  1. create folder: 02_AREAS.
  2. Create area template8
    tags: type/area
    ## Key Results
    ## Habits
    ## Resources & Footnotes
  3. Then I create a overview file in the 02_AREAS folder note. The overview file use !investor#Habits syntax to create an overview of all habits and key results of each area.

I use the overview to regularly check for projects & task I need to start. Further I confirm that I do my habits.


I organize (public) "topic or theme of ongoing interest" in the 03_RESOURCE folder. One folder is a collection of related information around this topic. Inside a collection I create articles. Articles are either whatis or howto.11 For more info around the differences check knowledge management. I name the whatis article same as the content the article describes e.g. artificial intelligence / regex. I name howto articles with an howto in the name e.g. howto implement an artificial intelligence product / howto regex.12 I click on the collection folder and then use Shift - N to create a new note. whatis articles explain a topic and create understanding / foundations e.g. "what is artificial intelligence". Howto articles describe how to do somethings e.g. "How to implement a model (to identify cars)".

  1. Create 03_RESOURCES folder with a collection.
  2. Create a collection template
tags: type/collection
classification: private
title: ''
aliases: []
season: spring

This file list all the different articles.

  link(file.link, title) AS "Title", type AS "Type", tags AS "Tags" FROM #computerscience
WHERE "type != collection" AND contains(tags, "")
SORT file.mtime DESC
  1. Create articles template
type: howto|whatis, samplecollectionName, sampleRelatedCollection
season: winter
classification: private
title: ''
aliases: []

- Intro (Goal, Situation/Complication/Background) - This article describes ...

- Content (depending on the topics differnt formats e.g. RFC/ADR format, 6 pager ... with differnt chapters)

## Footnotes & Resources

  1. Use the templates to create the collections and articles. Differentiate between howto and whatis in the tags and add relatedCollectionNames.13

Optional: You can setup devonthink for a better search. You also want to prevent to write private information into a public note. The highlight public notes plugin flags public notes based on the frontmatter classification with a read heading.

Optional: You can use the Obsidian_to_Anki plugin to create card. Either by defining the cards (;ll) e.g.

**Halte dich immer an meine {1|Lessons learned}, egal ob es jemand anderem passt oder nicht - es geht um mein {1|Leben und was das Beste ist}.** 
<!--ID: 1640611254848-->


Or by using inline a custom regex ((?:.+\n)*(?:.*==.*)(?:\n(?:^.{1,3}$|^.{4}(?<!<!--).*))*) to identify ==highlights== in texts and create clozes from that.

Footnotes & Resources

Further I use some non-essential plugins 14.

  1. The obisdian forum explains PARA in the context of Obsidian and provides a starter kit

  2. Install the folder-note and folder note core plugin. 

  3. Install the dataview plugin. 

  4. (e.g. areas or daily notes for tasks that just come up and don't belong to a specific project or resource or area, the dataview plugin also allows to plan tasks for a specific due date in the future) 

  5. Planning is essential to effiently execute. In my experience if i haven't planned the task of a day, I either plan to much or do them inefffiently. 

  6. It is important to know what the goal is in meetings and share an agenda up front. 

  7. Idea: Only link to a note that includes the query. that makes it easier for me to work with the daily note. In that note I can then also have multiple queries available. 

  8. I execute my scripts with Typinator. e.g. ;agenda. The template holds a tag with the typ to find archive project later in the archive.  2 3

  9. project should have a clear outcome and you should finish project within a sprint (max a quarter) 

  10. Based on the yc guide, the KPI and the release schedule. The schedule might be weekly. The DRI is the "head of product". 

  11. The stackoverflow articles concept use also classifies articles into whatis and howto

  12. I use folders for projects an tags for resources coparision graph / best pratices for finder tags. I tried to simplify by using index notes over tags but the plugin wasn't mature enough. Based on an article why folders are still the more mature solution 

  13. Alternative: make the route folder of an resource the whatis note that explains the resource collection. Then create other sub notes in the right collection and explain the root note what this is. So that you can read the whatis note and understand the rough overview of what is in the collection. The tag the article with the #collectionName and other related collections. 

  14. incremental writing, Obsidian_to_Anki, …