Obsidian didn’t stick, for me

Back in May I came across Obsidian, a knowledge base app that stores your information in Markdown files.

I used it a bit here and there until, in July, I stumbled onto Ton Zijlstra’s post about Obsidian which motivated me to try it in earnest. I was excited to have a note taking app that would store its data in files that I could keep myself.

Over the last several months, I’ve tried and tried to make it my place to store notes. It just hasn’t stuck. I believe there are 3 main reasons:

  1. Mobile – I sync Obsidian’s Markdown files via One Drive and can use any Markdown editor on my phone or iPad, however, that experience isn’t very good. I find myself in countless meetings or conversations during the day where I need to quickly jot something down and sometimes the only device I have on me is my phone.
  2. Speed – Obsidian is fast at what it does, but not nearly as fast as opening a new note in Simplenote. If I’m in the middle of a presentation or a meeting, and I need to take notes on my laptop or phone, I find myself opening Simplenote. Perhaps there is a workaround for that that I’m missing? (yes, I have a pinned note that is a “scratch” area, similar to my method from 2016)
  3. The opposite of flat – The UI of Obsidian sort of begs one to put notes into folders. Which is really nice on one hand, but debilitating on another. I find myself much more of a tagsonomy man.

I’ve tried workarounds where I use Simplenote in the moment and then move those notes into Obsidian. But that just adds more work.

Perhaps I’m trying to use Obsidian for something it wasn’t intended – a note pad full of simple scratch notes that eventually become to-do lists, emails, blog posts, etc. It should be used to build a knowledge base – a collection of information that rounds out a subject. I just simply don’t do that type of note taking.

Zijlstra, though, seems to have hit his stride.

After over 100 days of Obsidian my use of it has expanded to include a much larger part of my system. Along the way it made my use within that system of Things, Evernote and almost Excel obsolete. It also means I sharpened my system and practice of using it again.

Good for him. However, I’m left wishing I had an app that did exactly what Simplenote does except that it stores local files rather than cloud files. And works on mobile. Even Apple’s own Notes app doesn’t do that.

If you have any recommendations please forward them along.

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