WNW The Area Template Explained

I explain the structure of my Area template, and share some of the thinking behind why I organize the areas of my life notes the way I do.

WNW The Area Template Explained

When I start a new area, it is not a lot different from a project. I create a new folder, then a Home Note inside that folder, with a file name that has an underscore _ at the beginning so that the home note always sorts first in the file directory.

Obsidian notes are just text files saved on your computer hard drive. You can find them with your system file explorer (or finder), and you can open them with any app that can open a plain text file, like notepad, Visual Studio, or IA Writer.

Why an Area?

I will say I this again, because I believe it is important. Not everything Is a goal, not everything is destined to finish. Some very important parts of our lives deserve time, attention and effort.

For key areas of your life, there is no graduation. You can call these Roles, if you want. An equally valid organization would be GRIT - for Goals, Roles, Interests and Treasures (past work).

Always Improving

Perhaps more than any other note, this one has evolved over time. So please do not take any of this as gospel. When I worked in the video game industry, our genius founder said, "our code base will never be perfect because we are always learning, always improving. What it should be is our current best understanding of how to make a video game. and it should always work."

I like that philosophy, and I think about my notebase the same way. Some parts are newer than other parts, some parts reflect a better understanding. The older parts? They still function. I call this Organic Change. And I don't waste any time going back and "fixing" everything. I only update files when I need to update them.

The Latest Structure

A home note for an area has the following structure:

# Area: {{title}}

## Overview
What is this about?  What role am I playing.

## Standards: 
What standards am I trying to uphold?  What do I value?  How do I want to show up.

## Maintenance:  
What am I trying to maintain?

## Branches

## Journal
- [[{{date}}]]

## Goals
- a list of things I want to see become true.  What am I aiming at?  

## Projects
- Links to projects

## Habits / Practices
- [ ] habit

## Resources
- Links to websites or other tools

## Connections
- Cross links to other pages, notebooks.

I will get to the technical parts in a separate post, but these heading and their prompts give you an idea of what kind of information goes into an area.

The breakdown:


This is very Feynman-like. Explain it simply. To yourself. In words. Why? Writing is practice thinking. If you can't express it clearly to yourself, who can you express it clearly too?


The hear of a role for me. What standards am I trying to uphold? What do I value? How do I want to show up in the world. You could even create a standard note - some roles will use the same standard! (Like just being a good person for example). Reuse and link standards if you want.


This could be redundant to standards, but it's still in my template. It often contains what might be measurable about an Area. Here's an example, in my finance area I use YNAB to budget our family finances. I want the age of our money to always be > 30 days.


These are new notes that branch off this standard. Very often, they are PeopleCards. Roles almost always focus on people. Maybe I should rename this relationships, or create a special heading for that... what do you know, a new improvement. I think I'll also start putting version numbers in my template front matter.


Notes to myself about this role. A place to capture role specific memories, or clues to what I was working on the last time I edited this note.

Goals & Projects

Now the next two headings might seem kind of weird, but I find that often, my projects and my goals are linked to some role I have. Now I will confess, that I am not diligent about making sure all of these link up. The goal is to live my life, not maintain my system. However, in some roles (like being CEO, or being EO President) there are absolutely projects I need to tackle, so I created headings to hold links to those.

I also back link to a role from a project if it's relevant. Like what area of my life is this project relevant for?


A list of the daily, weekly, or monthly practices I want to maintain. Projects have Plans. Standards have Practices (or habits).


Resources are different from branches because they are most often bookmarks or URL's to resources. They can also contain links to other folders or home notes that are relevant. For example, in my speaker area, I would put links to the google drive folders that hold my headshots (it's surprising how many times you need to provide a headshot). Also links to my personal branding document (what colors and fonts I use in my handouts etc.)


And connections, my sort of default, I don't know where to put it so I'll create a link here. This is almost always a links to the Daily Note for the day I created this area, but other times, it might include a link to other related Areas. Being a Father, Husband, and Family are all connected in some way.


Projects are all about achieving goals. They are action oriented and focused on getting it done now. Areas are more long term. They are in the "soon" category, of time as they persist and are present. You can delay focusing on a standard, but you can't do it forever without consequences.

Again, to be clear, you do not need this much detail, and often I will delete or remove headers from some Area Notes. These are suggestions of how to think about an area. And when it doubt start simply. Make an area note, and just write out what it is and why it is important to you then start sticking in related notes and links. It does not have to be complicated.

The goal is to be intentional.

Jay-Z said, "I believe you can speak things into existence."

I believe you can write them into existence. Writing might be the very first place that your thoughts manifest into the world. What's more writing down gives you the opportunity to get clear about what is important to you.

Using the food analogy, Projects are the food you put on the counter to make a meal. Areas are the fridge, things should stay fresh and get used. My Intent is not to let things "rot" in the fridge. Which reminds me of the line from Jim Gaffigan. "They shouldn't call it a vegetable crisper. They should call it the rotter, because that's what happens to the stuff I put in there."

Don't let what is important to you rot. Creating an area is a way to raise the visibility and importance of your relationships, and your standards to be on par with your goals.