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Steven Hilton
Steven Hilton

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My Personal Weekly Reviews in Dendron

I've struggled with time management, staying focused and organization for my entire life. I've tried different processes and many tools, both real and digital, but nothing sticks. It's a vicious and frustrating cycle.

But, finally, I think I found something that works for me.

Dendron is a VS Code extension and a "knowledge management tool". It's part wiki, part todo list, part journal, part calendar and much more. And it's all based on using plain markdown files.

But as a vscode extension, it works inside the same tool I write code in! That's the magic ingredient. It's barely a context switch for me when I'm coding vs writing notes in Dendron. It's easy for me to move back and forth.

If you want to use Dendron as a team tool, you can check your dendron "vault" into a git repository and share it as any regular codebase.

However, I'm using it as an individual planning tool to help me manage my time, personal organization and goal setting.

Dendron has a built-in daily journal feature that's easy to use. But I also wanted a "weekly review" built in to my workflow. So I created one.

To do this, I create a "schema" and a "template". Schemas are a way to describe a file naming convention and which template to use when creating a new note with that convention.

All dendron notes are in the same directory. There is no tree structure on the file system. But don't worry, you won't be using the "Workspace" view very much. The Dendron extension comes with its own sidebar and its own views.

Dendron files use a dot-namespaced notation to build a virtual tree structure. For example, a file named foo.bar.md will be a peer of foo.bar.md and the two notes will be in the foo namespace.

These files:
file listing view of notes

Creates this tree:

tree view of notes

A common convention for managing templates is to put the notes in a 'templates' namespace. I press ctrl+l to create a note named 'templates.weekly-review' with this text (loosely based on the David Allen's 'Getting Things Done' methodology):

Secondly, I create my weekly report schema file. I press shift+ctrl+l to create a new schema, and type in weekly-review. This create a new file called 'weekly-review.schema.yml' and I type in my schema document:

This document describes a file pattern with 5 parts. Schema files can be more complex, where each part has multiple children, but this one is fairly simple. Each "part" gets its own id, a possible pattern, and the last one gets a template. You can see we defined a template named templates.weekly-review.md for the last schema part.

Notes named in the format of: weekly.report.2022.05.08 will match this schema.

Let's create it. I press ctrl-n to create new note. I name it 'weekly.review.2022.05.08' (you don't give it the .md extension) and it comes pre-populated with the template text we defined earlier.

Now, every time I create weekly report note it is pre-populated with questions for me to answer. I can edit the template and it will be used for next week's report.

I am still ramping up my usage of dendron, and my tree of notes is growing as I gather my thoughts outside my head and work toward managing my time and energy better:

my tree of notes

It's working for me so far. Maybe it's worth a try for you as well. Also, If you have ideas for a better weekly review template, I'd like to hear your suggestions.

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