Frustrated by Tools at Work

I always find this an interesting discussion.

Would this be the case if you wrote the same information in a notebook? Would your info sec team care as much?

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Given some of the discussions on this forum related podcast, they might, if it involves the type of paper and pen you are using! :joy:

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Perhaps the tools are also frustrated that you are not using them to their true design purpose. :slight_smile:

Even as a modestly fast touch typist, I have never found a keyboard input device to be at all reasonable for taking notes in dynamic contexts (e.g. meetings). So Obsidian is out (even when you would tell me about XYZ plug-in to take hand-written notes in Obsidian on an iPad).

The purpose of taking notes at meetings should not be about doing actions while taking notes. Nor is the purpose of meeting notes to be formatted as a publication ready document. Consider [ ] as an action reminder for you and [ ] CCN as an action item for your colleague Charles C Nickels. In handwriting style …

[ ] – type up this section as a summary (due: tomorrow)
[ ] CCN - send file XYZ.pdf to headquarters (due: Friday)
[ ] – …

You could store your holiday ham in a refrigerator, pull it out on Christmas, and cook it in the oven … or you could buy the newest fridge + oven combination, put the ham in the oven on fridge mode the night before, set the timer for three hours before dinner, and be relaxed watching the Macy’s parade. If you are less anxious about doing your holiday dinner in former case with two devices (a fridge and an oven), why are you more anxious when you talk about splitting two clearly different work functions across two apps?


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I’m not the OP obviously, but I’ve definitely experienced that having multiple apps multiplies the places you have to look for something. There’s definitely a benefit to a single system.


For your meeting and daily tasks I highly recommend you try the BuJo method. I felt cluttered all the time and realized that no app would offer the flexibility a sheet of paper with a pen could give me. So I went and bought a notebook and implemented the bullet journal method. Later if you want you can process it to Obsidian and add all the bells and whistles you want. Another more simple silution would be to buy a moleskine notebook that has sheets of paper already crafted to be thorn apart from the notebook, I can’t remember the name but you can try that, scan the page and add it to your obsidian. The benefit is that no app will give you the annotation flexibility you will have with your hand.

I advocate the BuJo method particularly because the rapid logging language of it will force you to separe things in actionable items and what is just for reference. You can even add special bullets that only have meaning to you, like a star or a happy face or a “+” for notes that are particularly important. Later in the evening when you are “reflecting” what you wrote store in obsidian what is still relevant and not a distraction. Also, handwriting magically will engage your brain deeper in the meeting and content you are listeting to. If you are still not interested in BuJo get your hands in a Hobonichi Techo HON.

You will feel comfortable because everything relevant isn’t in two apps, just in your BuJo notebook or planner and you have a backup in Obsidian. Both free and futureproof ways of storing content.

Unfortunately I can’t vouch for apps like Goodnotes for handwritten content, they just didn’t work for me and I love the feel of my Pilot Metropilan Fountain Pen when writting on good quality paper, it’s just a chef kiss.

Now, I might get a lot of hate from this but Evernote has been working great for me. I like storing things in it and getting content from it. The sharing experience is seamless and a LOT of apps offer support or integrate seamlessly with it, even my ScanSnap x1400. You can still keep working with obsidian though, but take in mind the free experience it offers and the novelty of it comes with integration and big market consolidation downsides. I mention this regarding your second numebered point and a little bit of the third one because EN syncs with iPad and iPhone, while at the same time offering a solution with your web browser or downloading the app to your Mac or PC.

I hope you found this useful and at least give BuJo a try.


Yes, at some point. However, I believe the anxiety about more than one app becomes a self-driven mantra against more than one app. By example, I might also have trouble finding my spanner wrench because it is not in the flatware cabinet if I was so firm in a belief that both objects should always be found in one place, e.g. because they are both made of metal.

At some point, when is the struggle due to the inability to distinguish electronic documents by their root reasons to exist, not by the fact that one electronic app should contain (open and work with) all electronic documents?


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Just wanted to say this is such an interesting discussion on MPU in a while! I thought that I was alone in the struggle with Microsoft corporate software, but it’s much much more spread out than I thought (being relatively new to corporations, you can see my naivety). I see some methods that people have adopted that were similar to mine in the past (using Things on my phone, reviewing on the Mac) but there were frictions to the method that I ended up ditching them. However, seeing the reasoning and insight from people with much more experience than me is worthwhile.

I still struggle with thinking about using the right tools for capturing notes vs getting the work done, but I just have to remind myself that I just have to do it no matter what application I’m using.

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You mentioned that in OneNote you can put text anywhere. Have you tried the canvas in obsidian? It allows you to arrange notes and bits of text on a canvas.

To highlight a paragraph, I usually use the quote markup >, which makes it stand out.

I tried OneNote for similar reasons that you mentioned, but did not like it/get it to work for me.

If I was in person in meetings, I would still lean towards a solution with an iPad an a pencil. Less hiding behind a screen, ability to draw/write anything anywhere.
I rarely write down code in meetings anyway.
I could also just use pen and paper. Actionable items and archival information would need to extracted and cleaned afterwards. This is where being on the iPad helps.

I work remotely, all my meetings are in front of a screen anyway and I settled on Obsidian (mostly because I like how I can take my non-meetings notes there). I do not get any attachments I need to store with my notes, luckily. Those are attached to some page confluene/jira by someone, and I’ll usually just link to those pages.
I write just anything in a stream of consciousness style. And if it is worth, I clean up afterwards, just like it was pen and paper notes, with the advantage that I usually don’t have to extract to another place, but just clean up in the note itself.

I can understand that you would like to limit third party plugins, but if drawings are an essential part of your notes, you should really consider a solution if you want to use obsidian.
Maybe you want to become a mermaid wizard? At least it is baked in in obsidian.

Mildly related: a student taking math lecture notes in latex to leave the classroom with an almost finished script! Using an external drawing program. This always reminds me, that taking notes in publishable form needs to be set up properly and needs to be trained. Link

@AppleGuy did you get further on clarifying your system or are you still dancing between note taking apps? I find I’m OK on tasks, but notes is really difficult in the ecosystem where you’d think Microsoft would have a great solution.

I struggled with it a lot after this post, but in the past 3-4 weeks I think I’ve settled on OneNote.

I understand Obsidian is the cool kid on the block, and I understand the notes are “yours”. That’s all great, but I work in a hospital that runs Office 365, so the integration OneNote has with Outlook is just too easy.

I don’t attend a ton of meetings and I work from home, but a few times a week I find myself in a team meeting, a larger webinar (with a lot of attachments), or in a larger group talking about a project. It’s helpful for me to know who’s in those meetings and to also write by hand (using Apple Pencil) from time to time.

In OneNote I can click the “meeting details” button or “send to OneNote” and it fires all the meeting information (plus attachments) into a note instantly. I’m not sitting there typing the names of 12 people into an Obsidian template. I also like the pencil support in OneNote and the fact it shows you the date created easily within the note.

I’m aware I can obtain some of that functionality I just mentioned with plugins, but since I’m using a work computer (with permission to use Obsidian), I don’t like using a ton of community plugins (zero would be better). Also…I think I’m over excessive tinkering with a system or app. I don’t want to install Data View to organize my notes, I don’t want to install Excalidraw, and when I’m in a meeting I like to quickly take screenshots of slides (with ability to easily resize them), annotate with a pencil and move things around while I think.

Yes the notes aren’t “future proofed”, but these are work notes. I usually attend a meeting, write down some key points, a todo or two, and then never go back to the note again. Then the project is finished. It’s not like I need to go back to the well on that stuff years later and if I do – well, I have used OneNote in the past. Notes from 13 years ago are still in there and accessible.

Obsidian just overwhelmed me with trying to organize it properly within the context of an ever moving, ever changing workday. As I read recently (I don’t recall who said it), Obsidian is like typing all your notes into Word. It’s kind of rigid and limited.

OneNote isn’t as sexy or “in” at the moment, but for notes at work if you’re already using Office 365 – I’m kind of ashamed of myself for being too cool to use it for so long. The weight of “where does this go”, keeping track of templates and plugins and meeting attendees; it was wearing me thin. And the answer to most Obsidian questions seemed to be – “but, but, but, there’s a plugin for that”. Too much screwing around and tinkering for the pace of work notes and meeting details in my opinion.


The reasons you use OneNote are exactly the reasons I use Apple Notes. And, your reasons for not using Obsidian are the same as mine. All of which may scare you! :slightly_smiling_face:

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In the past maybe, but I think I’m over the whole “productivity/note gurus” and siding more with you @Bmosbacker.

I have a really hard time listening to my own inner voice. I listen to tech podcasts, I watch YouTube note taking personalities, and they all tout the benefits of Obsidian. So when I open up something like OneNote at work it’s almost like I can hear their collective voices booing me.

But I think there’s a certain aspect to all this that’s like – “I’m special, I need more, I’m a power user” that people love to identify with and form cliques. I know because I was one of them. Still am in some ways.

Hey, I still use Evernote at home, though I see it’s going to cost me $180 CAD at renewal in June. Not sure I’m up for that. But Obsidian as a viable replacement? No way.


I’m with you. As I posted here, I’ve stopped paying much attention to productivity podcasts, articles, and books. I’m a productive professional. I don’t need the handholding or the friction at this point in my life and career. I’m finding simple, reliable, and inexpensive is the best path for my needs (and sanity!). :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’ve noticed that the vast majority of these personalities do not work in high end professional positions in corporate structures. The environment and requirements of one’s work have a significant impact on one’s tool selection.


I also use OneNote at work, but I use Obsidian at home. Outside of the Office365 integration, which I have never found that helpful in my workflow, I don’t think it is that different from Obsidian. Folder/notes list on the left and writing area on the right. Most of ON’s bells and whistles I don’t find helpful, so I use them very similarly. If you use a lot of attachments and pictures, I do think OneNote is better. Otherwise, with the ability to backlink, I think it is much easier to find things in Obsidian. In OneNote I am constantly searching or tying to figure out where I put things. I don’t have that issue in Obsidian, because I can create a web of notes. I spend less time searching and organizing than I do in ON.

OneNote is better for me at work though, because I insert screenshots quite a bit.

This is a weird analogy. ON basically you are typing all your notes in Word, with all the annoying formatting issues Word has. Obsidian is like typing in a text editor.

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Yeah, I never understood what it is their working on exactly. No one really ever seems to say.
If you want to sit at your computer and write 40 pages about that book you just read fill your boots.


Good point lol.

I just found it hard to organize in Obsidian because I’d create a meeting note and then want to link it to the project note, to the daily note. It was multiple steps each time. When I researched how to deal with this the solution was always plugins/dataview, and I just don’t want to get into all that. :man_shrugging:t2:


You do have to have a workflow in Obsidian. I date stamp most things and use a daily note as a table of contents for the day. I use an Alfred shortcut to insert a date quickly, so date stamping is quick and easy to do for me.

I often do some sort of intro/summary in a note that tries to describe what am I doing which will have links to related notes. One kind of cool thing Obsidian does, is it a “mentions” pane, where it lists all your official links, and any notes you mentioned. So I might have a main note for “Apple” and then in a note where I typed Apple, it shows up in that pane. So sometimes that helps me find something, even when I didn’t create a real link.

I do think OneNote is underrated in the Apple community. Especially with its Pencil support. It’s a great app, although I don’t always love the forced OneNote integration. It is my go to app when I want to insert a lot of pictures.

The vast majority of them make their money by jumping on the latest and greatest thing whatever it is.

True but I do think that it also depends on your own personality. I’m most definitely NOT in a corporate world. Even when I was working on a huge corporation it was an employee owned company and promoted and fostered individual entrepreneurship. Being able to “roll my own” with Obsidian has been especially freeing and far more powerful in many ways than using other note taking apps. It has also taken me a fair amount of time to get my Obsidian system to the place I want it to be. I haven’t tinkered with it much in the last 9 months. I have one thing I do still need to work on but that’s not going to happen until after lambing is over. Probably the biggest recent change is that I did eventually split my vault into 2 vaults. The reason is that there is now a team of 3 of us that are all sharing a vault. It’s working much better than expected and has replaced a host of other options we tried for team work.

I find that interesting. They all pretty much link seamlessly for me. I just start typing in the link am presented with a list of most recent notes and can select the right one. I use that to link the people (Farley File) notes with meeting notes and also meeting notes with project notes. As for daily note they all get automatically linked because I use a date in the note filename. I had to set it up once but now I never have to worry about those links.

In my team vault we’ve been inserting tons of screenshots in our Obsidian notes. We don’t care about placement, just that the info is in there and for that it’s working very well. Much better than I expected given how many people complain about Obsidian and how it handles pictures.


My experience and satisfaction with Obsidian is similar to yours. During zoom meetings I often take screenshots with a keyboard shortcut and paste them into my meeting note with cmd-v. I don’t see how it could be faster or easier in another app.