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heymichellemac
heymichellemac

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How I Use Obsidian As A Creative - Part 2

Welcome to part two of a four-part series where I share with you how I use Obsidian as a creative.

It's an extensive look at how my Obsidian vault is setup and how I use it to store my thoughts, learnings, and ideas.

Today we're going to talk about the following two directories: inbox and life os.


00-inbox

Inbox directory screenshot

The inbox directory is where all the random uncategorized, unfinished notes live.

This can include:

  • drafts for articles I'm writing (like this one)
  • ideas for future articles
  • concepts I'd like to learn more about
  • whatever random stuff crosses my path throughout the day

If you're familiar with the GTD methodology you'll recognize this as one of my content inboxes. I use it along with my Bullet Journal and Todoist to capture any stray thoughts or ideas that come into my head.

I try to review this directory once a week (during my weekly review) to clear it out and move notes to the right location.

Sometimes I'll add a tag #inbox or #towrite to these notes to further categorize them but I'm not sold on the value of this so I don't always do it.

For me, it's enough to have all of these items stored in the Inbox directory itself.


01-life-os

The Life OS directory is where I keep notes relating to 'big picture' items like goals, projects, and weekly reviews.

This is where a lot of templates and other fun tricks start to come into play.

This directory contains the following sub-directories:

  • 01-years
  • 02-quarters
  • 03-goals
  • 04-projects
  • 05-weeks

01-years

Years Directory Screenshot

The Years directory contains a note for each year. There's not a lot in here yet but as I continue with this process I'll have a lot to show for it over the next number of years.

Naming Format

The naming format for year notes is: Y-2021. Y denotes this is a year note and then the year shows me which year it belongs to.

Years Index

The first note in this directory is years-index which is an index of all my year notes.

This is generated using the Dataview plugin which queries the metadata/frontmatter of each note like querying a database.

Note: the code/syntax is written in Edit Mode, then when I switch to Preview Mode, I can see a list of all relevant notes.

Years Index Screenshot

years-index Dataview Syntax:

list
from "01-life-os/01-years"
where contains(file.name, "Y")
sort file.name desc
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Year Note Template

Each year note itself is generated from my Year Note Template. When I start a new year note, I simply press CTRL + T, then select Year Note Template and my note will auto-populate with everything I need.

The first section of the template contains the file name.

I also like to have a yearly theme so I put that right underneath the title.

# {{title}}
Theme: 
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The next 3 sections are lists of my Quarter, Goal, and Project notes. These are all automatically pulled in using the Dataview plugin once again.

Quarters:

list
from "01-life-os/02-quarters"
where contains(file.name, "2021")
sort file.name asc
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Goals:

list
from "01-life-os/03-goals"
where theYear = 2021
sort file.name asc
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Projects:

list
from "01-life-os/04-projects"
where theYear = 2021
sort file.name asc
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Following this, I have my year end review section.

These questions have been added over time as I continue to use this template and research other ways of doing yearly reviews. This is what I've settled on for now.

## Year End Review

### Review Of The Past Year
-   How did my yearly theme help me this year?
-   What went really well this year?
-   What surprised me?
-   What am I most proud of accomplishing?
-   What challenged me?
-   What am I most grateful for?
-   What have I learned this year?
-   My top 5 favorite things from this year
-   Describe this year in 3 words

### Looking Ahead To Next Year
-   What is my yearly theme and why?
-   What am I most looking forward to next year?
-   What am I feeling apprehensive about?
-   What do I want to do differently?
-   What area of y life to I most want to develop?
-   What do I want to accomplish next year?
-   What challenges am I likely to face?

### Taking Action
-   I will make more time for:
-   I will learn about:
-   I will say NO to:
-   I will say YES to:

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At the end of each year, I review this note and perform a yearly review.

This might sound really daunting but once you see everything in the quarters, goals, and projects sections, you'll realize there is a lot to work from.

02-quarters

Quarters Directory Screenshot

The Quarters directory contains a note for each quarter.

I try to follow The 12 Week Year process as I have found it helps to keep me on track towards my goals and projects.

You can check out my book notes for that book here: The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran - Book Notes, Summary, Review

Naming Format

The naming format for quarter notes is: Q1-2021. Q1 for example denotes the quarter (quarter 1) and the year shows me which year it belongs to.

Quarters Index

The first note in this directory is quarters-index which is an index of all my quarter notes.

This is automatically generated using the Dataview plugin which queries the frontmatter of each note like querying a database.

list
from "01-life-os/02-quarters"
where contains(file.name, "Q")
sort file.name desc
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Quarter Note Template

The first section of the template contains the file name.

Underneath that, I link the quarter to the appropriate year with a backlink. This allows me to easily navigate to the correct year from inside the quarter note.

The next 3 sections are lists of my Goal, Project, and Week notes. These are all automatically pulled in using the Dataview plugin.

Goals:

list
from "01-life-os/03-goals"
where theQuarter = "Q1-2021"
sort file.name asc
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Projects:

list
from "01-life-os/04-projects"
where theQuarter = "Q1-2021"
sort file.name asc
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Weeks:

list
from "01-life-os/05-weeks"
where theQuarter = "Q1-2021"
sort file.name desc
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Following this, I have my quarterly review section that I fill out at the end of each quarter.

## Quarterly Review:

### Review Of Goals
- Look back at the goals I set for the quarter
- What were the themes/buckets associated with these goals?
- Did I achieve my goals?
- If not why not?
- Will any of these goals carry forward into the next quarter?
- If so, what needs to change to ensure success this time around?

### Review Of Projects
- Look back at the projects I undertook in the last quarter
- What were the themes/buckets associated with these projects?
- Were these linked to any of my goals?
- What one thing did I learn from each project?
- What one thing would I change if starting each project again?

### Review Of Weekly Reviews
- Look back at the weekly reviews from the last quarter:
- What were the 3 most important lessons I learned

### Start Stop Continue
- What should I start doing next quarter?
- What should I stop doing next quarter?
- What should I continue doing next quarter?

### Setting New Goals
-   Pick 1-2 new goals to work on for the next quarter
-   Fill them out in the Goals DB
-   Define any related projects that need to be created to accomplish the goal(s)
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03-goals

Goals Directory Screenshot

The Goals directory contains a note for each goal I set for myself. These will usually come from my quarterly and yearly reviews.

The process if picking goals during my quarterly + yearly reviews helps to keep me focused and prevents me from trying to do too much at once.

Naming Format

I use icons at the start of the note to denote the goal's status:

  • ⚪ - To Do
  • 🟠 - In Progress
  • 🟢 - Complete
  • 🔴 - Failed

Yes, believe it or not, I fail at some of the goals I set for myself.

I still like to keep those goals in my Obsidian system to review every once in a while. I definitely try to learn from my failures and this is a big part of that process.

As for the actual note name, I try to keep the name of the goal concise and understandable so I know what it is at a glance.

Goals Index

The first note in this directory is goals-index which is an index of all my goal notes.

This is generated using the Dataview plugin which queries the frontmatter of each note like querying a database.

list
from "01-life-os/03-goals"
sort file.name
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

I also keep a list of potential goals I might like to work on in the future in this note.

Goal Note Template

This template starts with the front matter which is used by the Dataview plugin.

I have the year (theYear) and the quarter (theQuarter) which is what most of my Dataview queries look for.

 theYear: 2021 
 theQuarter: Q3-2021
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Next, I have some more note data including the title, status, year, quarter, and project.

I realize that I'm duplicating the Quarter and the Year but this way I can use backlinks as well as the Dataview functionality.

# {{title}}
Status:
Year: [[🔄 Y-2021]]
Quarter: [[🔄 Q3-2021]]
Project:
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The next section relates to defining the goal itself. What it will entail, and what success looks like.

## Goal Background

## Goal Outline
**_Specific_**
**_Measurable_**
**_Achievable_**
**_Relevant_**
**_Time-Bound_**

## Definition Of Success

## 3 Reasons For Failing
What are the top 3 reasons why I might fail at this goal?

## How To Stack The Deck In Your Favor
Based on my reasons for failing, what strategies can I make use of to achieve my goals?

## Action Plan
Include the next actionable task I can do right now to start working towards my goal.
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The final section is for my goal review.

When I have accomplished (or failed) at a goal, I reflect on what went well and what I could improve on next time.

## Goal Review

### Did I Achieve This Goal?

### Why or Why Not?

### What 1 thing would I have done differently?

### What 1 thing did I learn from this experience?
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04-projects

Projects Directory Screenshot

The Projects directory contains a note for each project I want to work on.

These typically stem from the goals I'm currently working on.

I also create projects that aren't directly tied to my goals but I try not to do this too often to prevent working on too much at once.

You might be noticing a trend here of trying to prevent overwhelm and only focus on the most important stuff.

Naming Format

I use icons at the start of the note to denote the project's status:

  • ⚪ - To Do
  • 🟠 - In Progress
  • 🟢 - Complete
  • 🔴 - Failed

I then use a key: MXP21001

  • MXP - Mishacreatrix Project
  • 21 - the year (2021)
  • 001 - the project number

Following the key I have the name of the project itself: "blank-page-as-a-creator-ebook".

Here's what an example note name looks like for a project: 🟢 MXP21011-blank-page-as-a-creator-ebook

Project Index

The first note in this directory is project-index which is an index of all my project notes.

This is generated using the Dataview plugin which queries the frontmatter of each note like querying a database.

list
from "01-life-os/04-projects"
where contains(file.name, "MXP")
sort file.name
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Project Note Template

This template starts with the front matter which is used by the Dataview plugin.

I have the year (theYear) and the quarter (theQuarter) which is what most of my Dataview queries look for.

 theYear: 2021 
 theQuarter: Q1-2021
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Next, I have some more note data including the title, status, year, quarter, and goal.

# {{title}}
Status:
Year: [[🔄 Y-2021]]
Quarter: [[🔄 Q1-2021]]
Goal:
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The next section relates to defining the project itself. What it will entail, my workings and what I learned from the project once it's completed.

## Project Background
## Proposed Implementation
## Time Frame
## Notes
## Daily Notes
## What I Learned
## What Could Be Improved Next Time
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Project Ideas Kanban Board

I have recently been playing around with the Kanban Board plugin and have found it to be extremely useful.

So much so that I created a Project Ideas kanban board note.

Any time I think of a potential new project idea, it gets a note on the Kanban board. I currently have each note grouped based on the type of project.

For example:

  • Websites - ideas for websites to build
  • Notion Files - ideas for Notion files + templates
  • Figma Files - ideas for Figma files + templates
  • eBooks, PDFs, Guides
  • Needs more research - not yet sure what the implementation will look like so needs more thought.

When it comes to my quarterly and yearly reviews, I look at this board to pick what projects I can work on next.

05-weeks

Weeks Directory Screenshot

The Weeks directory contains a note for each weekly review I do.

I do my weekly review on Friday afternoons but quite honestly I've missed the last couple.

This article will serve as a reminder for me to get my butt back in gear and do my weekly reviews!

Naming Format

The naming format for these types of notes is:

  • W10 - the week number
  • 20210319 - the year (2021), month (03), and date (19)

Weeks Index

The first note in this directory is weeks-index which is an index of all my week notes.

This is generated using the Dataview plugin which queries the frontmatter of each note like querying a database.

list
from "01-life-os/05-weeks"
sort file.name desc
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Week Note Template

This template starts with the front matter which is used by the Dataview plugin.

I have the year (theYear) and the quarter (theQuarter) which is what most of my Dataview queries look for.

 theYear: 2021 
 theQuarter: Q1-2021
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Next, I have some more note data including the title, year, and quarter.

# {{title}}
Year: [[🔄 Y-2021]]
Quarter: [[🔄 Q1-2021]]
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Next, I have the main content of the weekly review:

## Get Started
-   Clear Desk space
-   Zero Inboxes
-   Review last week's entry
-   Review daily reflections

## Reflections
### What Went Well This Week?

### What Should I Start Doing?

### What Should I Stop Doing?

### What Should I Continue Doing?

## Work Log

## Planning
- Review next week's time blocks
- Add & schedule tasks for the next week

## Shut Down
"I am finished work for today"
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That's it for this part of the series. The next post will be released next Monday.

In the meantime you can read the original article I wrote over on my website: A Walkthrough Of My Obsidian Setup

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