Getting Started with Obsidian

If you want to start building a Second Brain with obsidian, you can start right here. Stop trying to remember everything. Know where to go, to find what you need to know.

Getting Started with Obsidian

This YouTube video covers how to do a basic install of Obsidian using PARA. I recorded this video to help some friends walk through how to get a simple PARA system working. PARA stands for Projects, Area, Resources, and Archives. When you combine that with Obsidian and some other tools - you can build a second brain, or what I call a Where not What System. Instead of trying to remember everything, you only need to know one thing, where to go to find what you need to know!

Here's the Transcript:

Hi, my name is Scott Novis and I want to help you get started with a very base level of Obsidian. This video is intended for businesspeople, business owners, entrepreneurs.

There's a ton of great videos out there for super technical things. This is designed to give you a really simple, basic, usable Obsidian system. You begin to install, plugins with and create your own personal knowledge management system. So, this is just the fundamentals, not going to go into all the other things around it, but just how to get your system set up so you can start to play with it.

Well, step one, what are you going to do? You're going to go to Obsidian MD, as in Mary David, and you're going to get a copy of Obsidian for Wind Windows or the Mac or Linux or whatever it is that you use. Once you have grabbed your copy of Obsidian and you've downloaded it, you've installed it, I'm not going to capture.

Video of all that, you're going to end up with an empty vault. It's going to look a lot like this beautiful thing. There's nothing in it and that's a great place to start. So, we're going to begin by creating our base directory structure, clicking that little new folder icon, and it's going to say projects.

I put the number in front of it, so they sort in the correct order. Areas.

This is the essence of a Paris system made famous by Tiago Forte in his book Building a Second Brain and for its archives. Quick overview what each of those is. This video isn't about all that, but projects or things I'm working on now. Areas are my standards. Projects are for goals.

Areas are for standards. Thinks of things you don't want to end, like your health, your finances, your business, your career here. Things that you invest time and energy in and that you're going to work on soon. But they're not as urgent resources. Those are for notes about your future.

So I have now, soon and future. If it's not one of those three, I'm probably done with it. I'm going to archive it. That's the heart of the para system. Well, we're not done yet. To make this a useful system, we're going to need two more folders to begin with.

One is called daily notes. This is going to be the home for our whole system. Is that daily note? And we need a place to put them. We're going to put them there. We're also going to need for our templates I'm sure you know what a template is, but inside of Obsidian, it's kind of like a checklist note, very similar to Word, where you're like, oh, give me a resume template.

Only these are more personal processes. And there's one in particular we need to start with, and that one is going to be the Daily Note template. And there's a ton of stuff you could put in a Daily Note template, but to give you a simple example, one of them might be your morning routine, and you might put in a checklist for your morning routine, and it could include Walk the dog like.

Mind does. It could be read, a daily devotional, it could be "meditate".

Meditate. So that is our directory structure, and we've got a template. We're now ready to begin to put together our first plugins, which are built in. So, we're going to focus on the Daily Note template, and this is already included, it's a core plugin. And so we're going to accept the default date of year, month, day, it makes everything sort correctly.

Where do we want those Notes to go? In our daily note folder. Where's our template? In the templates folder. And as soon as we open Obsidian, we want it to open our Daily Note. Let's go down to our templates plugin and let's make sure it knows where to find templates.

Let's keep the same date formats, and voila. We're now going to have our first bit of template plugin magic. When we say over here, we now have this little. Con. This is open today's daily Note, and bang. We now have a new file created in the Daily Notes folder that has our checklist.

And every day from now on, if we keep opening up that file, we'll get a new file for new Notes and that checklist, and we can modify and customize. That all we want. Now, you now have a functional vault. You now have an Obsidian installation. You can begin to install interesting plugins with and begin to experiment with personal knowledge management, note linking, and all the cool things that come.

Didn't take long at all. But before we move on to any of that, let me share one other thing with you, because if you're not really technical, you might not know what Markdown is. And one of the reasons that Obsidian I love Obsidian is that these are just files on your hard drive.

It's not storing your information off in the cloud somewhere. Yes, you can do cloud backup. I highly recommend Obsidian sync. But if you don't subscribe to Obsidian Sync, it's a pay for service. They're not storing your information somewhere else. It is on your computer. I happen to make this vault in a OneNote folder, so Microsoft is backing it up.

Obsidian corporate knows nothing about my files. It's on your local machine. You could literally go with a Visual Studio code, or you could use text editor, even Word. Go to the directory where you put the vault and open this file and look at it. It's just a text file.

I love that I never have to export my data, I never have to worry about, oh, am I going to get it back out of there? Like, how is that going to work?

But what is markdown? It's just a text file. And what it does is it uses some very simple formatting. Like, here's a couple of examples. The ones I use the most. A hash mark creates a heading. In fact, one hash mark is a level one. Heading two is a level two.


three is a level three. I think you get where this is going. Goes on and on. You can write normal text.

However, one of the things that is really cool about Markdown is that to make italics, put an underscore, and any words between the italics between the underscores become italic. Do you want bold? Two asterisks and you get a word in bold. You can create bulleted lists by putting a hyphen.

Hit the spacebar and boom, it turns it into a bullet, and it'll keep going if you keep hitting return.

Want to end the list? Hit return twice. What about numbered lists? Type a number, like one a period, then hit the spacebar and it becomes formatted as a numbered list.

There's a lot more you can do, but my point here is there's enough formatting to structure ideas, and that's what you want to be able to do, is once. You get the basics, and you start learning a little bit more. There's tremendous help to show you other ways of using markdown, but fundamentally, you now have enough information.

Oh, let me explain. One other that I use is the checkbox. If you start a bullet, then use an open bracket, hit space, then the right arrow, then space, boom. You now have a checklist.

that you can just keep adding items to, as called, like, to dos. So, you could say, I want this to be my tasks.

And you have a basic, functional obsidian vault that we can begin to play with, to explore all kinds of cool stuff.