Why/How to Use the Daily Note?

Both Obsidian and Craft feature a daily note. In Craft the daily note is integrated with Craft’s recently added calendar integration feature.

I may be looking for an answer in search of a problem but I’m not sure why one would want to use the daily note feature in apps like Obsidian and Craft. But, given the enthusiasm around that feature, I may be missing something helpful.

My practice has been to create notes within project or meeting folders. The majority of my notes arise from scheduled meetings, though some are only for projects. I don’t need to write out my daily tasks—those are front and center in my task manager. I see no need to replicate that.

What have you found to be the benefit(s) of a daily note and how do you use it?

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I’m using Noteplan, and I’m in much the same boat as you when it comes to the daily note. The vast majority of my notetaking is in meeting or project related notes. I occasionally put stuff in the daily note if something comes up that’s not big enough to justify it’s own note. I’ve also been using the daily note to link all of the notes I take that day, but since I include the date in every note title I’m not sure the juice is really worth the squeeze on that.

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It’s a good question and I do think it depends on the person/workflow. To me it is not a universal, “You need to do this,” but I can tell you how and why I use it on Obsidian.

Prior to using Roam and then Obsidian, I was an avid bullet journal and would do the Daily Plan Bar from Mike Rhode: The Daily Plan Bar. This past year I’ve started using a… | by Mike Rohde | Rohdesign | Medium. I liked that because each morning I would take 10 mins and review my to-dos and calendar and commit them to paper. Then that would be the plan for the day. This was how I basically boiled it all down to the most important things I need to do for a day (I know I others have their own methods but this is what works for me).

Back then I was using Evernote mostly (and some Notion) and kept trying to figure out how to create some kind of a “live dashboard” to replicate what I was doing with my notebook.

So when these daily note apps came out it was easy to switch over.

In Obsidian, I use the Day Planner plug in and a template I’ve created that looks like this (an Alfred snippet “xday”):

Tasks

  • [ ]

Events

  • [ ] 8:00 example
  • [ ] 12:00 Examen

Notes (for quick capture, I link to new notes I create that day, phone notes, etc)

Gratitudes


![[+nurselog]] (My home page with all my current projects)

![[2021-W19]] (The weekly note from the weekly planner plugin)


Each morning I fill this out and it helps me prep for the day and then I basically just follow it through. I find that a lot of things I want to jot down don’t need their own pages and fit better in a daily note.

The other advantage beside a) reviewing the morning and making sure I have my ducks in a row, b) committing to the things I need to do today, c) doing some block scheduling with the open times in my calendar, is d) I can in the Tasks, Events, and Notes portion of the Daily note link to projects for the day that make things easily accessible throughout the day as I work on them.

I then have a nice log for my weekly reviews later.

Oh and one last piece, I find that with the calendar integration, it is nice to be able to drop projects and other info on days in the future when I know I will need them.

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I think @cwdaniels covers it well. It’s for bullet journal-style planning and logging.

I also use it as a jumping off point. If I’m not sure where a thought should go, it goes in the daily note. If the thought seems significant after writing it out, I might convert it to a note of its own, linking to the daily note.

One last thing. I have a “Modified on this date” header where I link everything I edited that day. I’m not sure this is going to be that useful in the future, but it’s easy to do (I use an Obsidian dataview snippet to generate the lists) and it is neat to have an accurate log of when I worked on something over the days/months/years.

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I’m a Roam user, which also has Daily Notes. When I first started to use Roam, I fully intended to not use these - but I love them as a feature.

I don’t do any bullet journaling or daily templates w/ them. Instead I use them to be a running log of my day.

Instead of adding all notes to dedicated pages, lots of my notes live on the daily pages. They’ve come to be a running log of my day: meeting notes, projects I’ve worked on, what media I’ve consumed. Then whenever I look up those projects/whatever I see my running thoughts and actions tied to the day on which I did them (this happens via the Roam “Linked References” feature.

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If the concept of “daily note” doesn’t immediately trigger an “aha” moment, then I would pass it by.

I have an Applescript that grabs information from various online databases for sources that I study each day. The script formulates a daily note with markdown syntax. With that script, I create a new note each day in TheBrain. I append to that note using other scripts that create links to interesting places I run across during the day, articles I clip and read, etc. I also add quick notes about significant personal and family events that day. And link to significant calendar events (which TheBrain supports). This daily note is like a hub. It’s always there. So, if I want to know what was important to on March 13, 2018, I can go look it up. Since TheBrain (v12 beta) also supports backlinks and unlinked mentions, it will suggest relationships between my daily note and other notes and documents in the database.

I used to do some of this in DayOne, but my approach in TheBrain is much more robust. I tried this in Obsidian for a while, but since TheBrain holds documents, web links, and other information assets a lot better than Obisidan does, I prefer to use TheBrain. (The improvements this year in TheBrain have probably cut my Obsidian use by 50-75%.)

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I’m with you. I’d like to have a great use for the feature but my work mainly consists of very long running projects and the critical time sensitive thing I have to do every day is just to make significant progress on them. I do journal at the end of the day about what I have learned in my process but I have no use for daily notes. It’s fine, I don’t think every workflow has use for them (even though they’re very fashionable these days).

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Clever. I imagine this is not just weather? Do you have any examples?

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No weather. In fact for a while I was grabbing weather and headline information for my daily note with various JSON APIs, then realized I don’t care what the weather and news was in the past, because I can find it out about weather and news from any day in the past from my friend Google. So I just limit the script to setting up links and content from databases and libraries for my own studies, which matter to me more.

Thanks everyone for the kind and helpful perspectives. I’ll give this more thought. There may be a useful place for the daily note, perhaps as more of a journaling/thinking exercise than a dashboard. I use my calendar and task management app for my dashboard.

Thanks again!

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I just use it to record what happened. That way a year from now, when I am wondering when was the last time I sprang a muscle trying to run? Oh yeah, it was June 18th. :pensive:

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I think this entirely depends on your workflow. I am a doctoral student in a theoretical science so my day consists of (1) almost no meetings; and (2) uninterrupted chunks of work with very high concentration (à la Cal Newport’s Deep Work).

I use the Daily Note for the following:

  1. Planning my day via time-blocking. It’s not perfect, but I often have a good idea of what I’m going to do that day-- the difficulty is how much time it will take. It’s a learning process, I recently switched fields so I’m not as good at time estimates as I once was. I use Obsidian’s Day Planner plugin for this.
  2. Collecting a summary of what I did that day, questions for my advisor, questions for myself (i.e. stuff I don’t understand) and a broad next actions list to discuss with my advisor.
  3. Some “Lab Notebook” style notes.

(1) and (2) are self-explanatory, but (3) might seem redundant, why not keep a note for each topic I work on? Well, I do! But a lab notebook needs to be chronological and datestamped, so I use the daily notes to fill that function.

For Example, here’s what a typical note might look like (I just came up with this, they’re usually more complex. The physics is real though!)

(YAML front matter with just tags)
(some navigation stuff)
(links to OmniFocus perspectives)

Day Planner

(Some day planning stuff where my day is broken up into slots and each slot is assigned a task from my OmniFocus Mission Critical perspective)

Lists

Summary

  • Perform spin texture calculations on [[Bi2Te3]]
  • Read Section II of [[Fang2013]]

Questions for Advisor

  • Why does the Z2 invariant require a smooth gauge across the whole BZ?
  • Can I get a new M1 MacBook?

Lingering Questions

  • Revise the proof of A-[[Time-Reversal Invariant Momenta|TRIM]] vs B-TRIM

Next Actions

  • Determine the Energy of the Dirac Point w.r.t the Fermi Level

Notes

Today, I performed a [[Density Functional Theory|density functional theory]] calculation of [[Bi2Te3|Bi$_2$Te$_3$]] to obtain the [[Spin Textures in DFT|spin textures]]. As shown in the figures below, we see that we have proper spin-momentum locking, as expected, and the [[Dirac Point]] occurs at ==XXX== eV w.r.t. the Fermi level.

![[Figure 1]]
![[Figure 2]]

Moreover, I took extensive notes on the paper by [[Fang2013|Fang et al.]], namely on Section II regarding the proof of [[Kramers Theorem|Kramers’ degeneracy]] by symmetry.

Now the power of this comes when it’s time for my weekly meeting with my advisor. I have a weekly note that, using DataView and DataViewJS will do the following:

  1. Creates a table with all the tags from the week’s daily notes, arranged by frequency of occurrence, so I know what topics I worked on the most.
  2. Collates the “summary”, “questions for advisor”, “lingering questions” and “next actions” lists into one big list for each.
  3. (To Be Done) Collect all figures from the week’s daily notes into a section of their own

That way, when I work on my weekly PIDoc (principal investigator document, an agenda-like document for meetings with my advisor), I have everything I need in my weekly note! It takes less than 5 minutes to cobble together the PI doc and I’m basically done.

I hope someone finds this helpful, and sorry for the messy writing-- I started writing this at 7 AM :slight_smile:

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I also think the Calendar end Task Manager combo suit my needs better than using the Daily Note in Obsidian, as discussed here and here.

That said, I still find value in Daily Notes as they encourage me to write more about things that either don’t fit into an existing note or are more on the personal/subjective side of considerations.

So I use it in two ways:

  1. As a way to capture things I read and find somewhat interesting but still don’t have a place among my more “permanent notes”. So they can be found via either search or unlinked mentions in the future (just used a bunch of these notes in preparation for a writing a paper yesterday!);

  2. As a journal into which I register my personal and subjective notes about projects or other concept-notes. So these considerations do not clutter the note itself, but are still addressable in the future via the backlinks pane in Obsidian (those also can be filtered out by inserting -tag:daily-note there). This way I can be more realistic when looking back into a project note about how much time I’ve spent working on this and how good or bad I feel about doing this.

In Charles Duhigg’s Smarter, Faster, Better: there was a quote that helped me frame this properly: we should create the habit of telling stories about ourselves. Capturing these thoughts and impressions, while not necessarily valuable to the project itself, help me shape a more coherent narrative about my own projects, wishes and ideas.

The greater value for me, though, is in having a low friction place to write things down on the fly, without worrying first if they’re in the “proper place” or if they’re rubbish stuff I just need to write to get out of my mind and never come back to. By removing the need to judge and categorize it before writing, Daily notes made me more prone to register these thoughts.

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Good luck with that! Hope you can! :smiley:

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In my job I have several meetings a day (frequently 4 or 5). I used to take meeting notes in each project file, for example project X would have a section for meeting notes, project Y would also have a section for meeting notes, etc. I’ve turned this on it’s head and now, each daily note has a section for meeting notes. A link to the project goes into the daily note and bullet point notes for the meeting go into the daily note. I also have a section for the solo work that I did with basically a bullet list for each project note.

I find this much better for when I do my weekly review and planning. I review all the daily notes for the week, to see exactly which projects I had meetings about or did work on. The back links in Obsidian also allow me to see the various meetings I’ve had when I’m looking at a specific project note.

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Your workflow is very similar to mine. I sent a question via Slack to the Craft developers. I need to be able to link to a project “folder”, not just a note. I also tried this in Obsidian but, (and I may well be wrong, I don’t see a way to link to a folder in Obsidian) I have not found a way to do this in Craft. I can easily type [[ ]] to link to documents but my projects are folders with documents in those folders related to the projects.

What you are doing sounds ideal for the daily note, IF I can figure out how to link to a project folder.

UNLESS, there is a way to effectively create a “project document” instead and use subpages/cards. Hmmm…any Craft users using that approach?

Roam was the first knowledge management app I came across that foregrounded that daily note feature (not counting journalling apps). I always thought of it as a way to facilitate a layer of ”don’t have to think about it” organisation, more so than as a prompt for daily reflection. With a daily note, you don’t have to think about where a particular thought belongs at point of capture, instead you can just capture thoughts in your daily note and connect them to other notes/subjects as you go. In that way, the daily note is kind of like an inbox for each day, except unlike an inbox you don’t necessarily have to process your daily note and move things out of it…

That said, I’m not a Roam user, much as I’ve tried. And as I think about this further, it occurs to me that I do something like this in Drafts (which could itself be seen as one big inbox, although that’s not how I use it…): I manually fire up a daily note each morning and offload whatever occurs to me, while making liberal use of an action that makes it easy to split off anything that might be more useful as an independent thought/reference, with links back to the original daily note…

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I don’t know if this would work for you, but I use a document for each project in Craft instead of a folder. I use folders for areas of responsibility. This works well for me.

I think that may well work. I have such a habit of using folders as project containers that I need to retrain myself given the new capabilities KM apps like Obsidian and Craft. Thanks for the idea.

I’m going to give this a try. The nice thing about Craft is I can create sub-pages and sub-cards which would accomplish the same thing as using a folder structure plus I have the advantage of backlinking. Thanks again!

Yeah, looks like you can’t link to folders in Obsidian. I haven’t started organizing with folders yet. Just curious, do you follow a system for your folder organization?