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How I use the Markdown app Obsidian as a second brain

Andrew Baisden
👨🏿‍💻 Full Stack Developer 📝 Blogger 🎮 Gamer ✏️ Creative 👁 Anime Addict ٩(●ᴗ●)۶
・3 min read

Obsidian is a Markdown Editor and Reader that can turn a folder of Markdown files into a very powerful knowledge base. The concept is that Obsidian is designed to work with a local folder on your computer which is also capable of syncing with cloud based providers like Dropbox. Essentially this leads to a scenario where you are in control of all of your data as opposed to having it on a 3rd party server. The Markdown files are stored on your local computer and you don't have to share them unless you want to.

Obsidian is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS. As of writing they have an iOS and Android version which are in private beta. You can download Obsidian here https://obsidian.md/

Building A Second Brain

The concept for Building A Second Brain is that as we go through life we have many thoughts, ideas, reflections as well as different networking connections. These are things that we attain as we go through life. So in essence Building A Second Brain is the methodology for turning all of that raw data into a compact form that we can use to categorize the information into a library. Another way to look at it is that you are putting together a simple plan which acts as a database for all of the knowledge that you gain and the sources they came from.

Note Taking

Desktop Workflow

I use the Obsidian Desktop App when working on a computer. Obsidian uses a concept known as backlinks. This is how you link other notes together. It is a lot like tagging which Obsidian can do too!

https://res.cloudinary.com/d74fh3kw/image/upload/v1620666043/obsidian\_twitter\_content\_zuanmt.png

This is what it looks like in Markdown.

# My Plan for this week
Need to remain consistent the plan for this week... ✍️

➡️ Post 1 article a day
➡️ 1 hour minimum coding a day
➡️ Exercise for 7 days
➡️ Continue with Udemy Course
➡️ Interview prep

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When you have created a lot of backlinks you can go to the graph view and see how they all relate to each other. If you put your mouse cursor on the circles it will show you the link tree for the notes. If you click on the circle then it will take you to the note. You can also filter by tags as well as other parameters.

https://res.cloudinary.com/d74fh3kw/image/upload/v1620666042/obsidian\_graph\_view\_jfnfdu.png

Mobile Workflow

When working on mobile I use a different setup. This is because the Obsidian Mobile Apps are still in private beta. I am an Android user so I will be posting links for the apps that I use. There are alternatives on iOS if you search for them.

Markor

A Markdown Editor

Markor

FolderSync

For syncing my local desktop folder with Dropbox and my Android phone

FolderSync

Final Thoughts

I really hope that you enjoyed reading this article and learned something from it. As a content creator and technical writer I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping other people reach their goals. Let's connect across social media you can find all of my social media profiles and blogs on linktree.

Peace ✌️

Discussion (4)

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squirrellogic profile image
Squirrel Logic

In addition to Obsidian there's also Foam for VSCode. (foambubble.github.io/) I use Obsidian daily, and I do like it. However once Foam fixes a couple of issues I'll likely switch over to Foam since VSCode is a lot more robust.

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cariehl profile image
Cooper Riehl

Thanks for sharing! I've had Obsidian installed on my desktop for a while now, I've just never found the motivation to learn how to use it effectively.

In your opinion, how does Obsidian compare to other "wiki-like" note-taking apps, like Notion.so?

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden Author

Obsidian appears to be much simpler compared to Notion which is an all in one powerhouse that now has a public API. So it's now possible to connect Notion workspaces to external apps like Gmail, Trello, Dropbox etc...

However I think Obsidian can in theory be just as useful if you were to create a custom workflow for it. I watched a YouTube video where someone talked about converting their Notion workflow to Obsidian. I am not ready to go that far yet.

One area where it beats Notion is in the overall writing experience. It just feels more natural like using a word document whereas Notion has these weird blocks for writing code which feels more unnatural and against conventions.

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measomvanessa profile image
Vanessa Measom

Thanks for the recommendation, as a person who really likes the idea of having a second brain, I'm going to give this a try!

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