My Obsidian Daily Productivity System

On popular request, here finally the write-up of my Obsidian setup. It’s somewhat elaborate but I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible.

At its core most of my Obsidian time is spent in the Daily Note which is also where most of my actual work happens. I tried to get to a similar setup in my previous note taking tool Foam (see my PR) but there were too many limitations for it to work well.

The Github Gist of the entire setup is here:

The main way I use this is I create a new Daily Note for a day and this template seeds that note with all the scaffolding and information I need to be successful that day. It automates and structures what would otherwise be a relatively miserable sequence of manual steps and copy-paste-ing.

The plugins that I use for this are:

Let’s go through the template file from the top:

# {{date:dddd, MMMM Do, YYYY}} 

This sets the title of the note to the date that we are creating the note for. Nothing very special here but note that with Calendar we can create a daily note for any date (it doesn’t have to be today) and that date is passed in as a parameter to the template.


Then comes the tasks section:

### Due Today

((due on <% tp.file.title %>) OR (due before <% tp.file.title %>)) AND NOT done

### Scheduled Today

((scheduled on <% tp.file.title %>) OR (scheduled before <% tp.file.title %>)) AND NOT done

### Done Today

done on <% tp.file.title %>

This is a triple that lists all my tasks that are due on that day (or were before), all my tasks that are scheduled for that day (or were before) and if I finish anything, it will list those tasks under the third section as my work log.

The hack here is that the ISO date is passed in to the templates as `file.title and can then be used to query Tasks. It took me a bit to get this to escape right and figure out how to write the complex boolean condition.

I moved away from Things when I discovered the Obsidian Tasks plugin. Tasks allows me to close over all the tasks that are in my notes and is incredibly flexible and powerful. Being able to do arbitrary queries on tasks in any markdown file in my workspace is nothing short of amazing. I’m still waiting for Notion and other tools to offer something similar.

I always felt the split between taking notes and capturing tasks was incredibly broken and created lots of unnecessary friction. For instance this nonsense with bear:// protocol links in Things that is delusionally claiming that “Bear & Things 3 Work Really Well Together”. These two things should be in the same environment.


Then the second part is a section that creates a scaffold with all the appointments I have for that day formatted as markdown stubs.

It works using this relatively obscure and somewhat finicky tool ical-buddy. In the template I call a Templater user function days_events:

<% tp.user.days_events({CURRENT_DATE: tp.file.title}) %>

which inserts the result of the following command in-place:

icalBuddy -ec "FE0B6DAB-E598-4DE1-9F2B-7DE06A236647,4242177B-7D2B-4A20-AE23-A99DD51D5B80" -eep '*' eventsFrom:$CURRENT_DATE to:$CURRENT_DATE | sd '•' '##' | sd '\(\)' '' | sd '\n' '\n\n* \n\n'

This call to icalBuddy excludes a bunch of calendars I’m not interested in, queries the calendar for events within the specified day and then does a bunch of replace actions that turn it into markdown.

I don’t use (preferring Cron at the moment) but I have my Google Calendar setup in macOS System Settings and leave Calendar open for it to always have up to date data.


Putting everything together, when I double-click on a day, I get a document that looks a bit like this:

The fact that it’s fully automated and that with a single action I can get a relatively complete informational dashboard for what I should be doing that day has been an immense load off. It allows me to hit the ground running and immediately start sifting tasks, go through my meetings and create a plan for the day.

When I know a day is coming up that’s going to be particularly intense, I create the daily note for it ahead of time and start lining up information and talking points for each appointment in the scaffold. Reducing the effort it takes to start that prep and storing it in a standardised format makes it much more likely that I’ll do it and use it. With that preparation ready-to-go in Obsidian it takes out all the stress and I can run my day in a pure flow state.

Late to the party but I very much love this interview with Karri Saarinen, the co-founder of Linear. Their way of working, “The Linear Method”, will be waved away by companies (“we can’t do that because…”) but with leadership with the right mentality and experience I don’t think it’s that far off at all. Ask your leadership how you can work like this.

Also I already know I’m going to use the term “side quest” a lot.

We don’t use Linear but we recently moved all our stuff from Jira to Github Projects which—even though it is mostly abandoned—is Linear-enough.

Most importantly, it is right on top of our codebase which is where I believe all engineering work should happen anyway.

The last episode of Spaßbremse treats the history of German-Israeli relations and clarifies what the strategic foundations of the current complex are: white-washing and moral standing for one side and economic reparations and industrial capacity building for the other.

The thinly veiled racism and colonialism is just the rotten cherry on top.

This article is a wild premise, a wild ride and a wild conclusion (also I’m increasingly warming to the idea of htmx).

“Every cloud-pilled, react-vue-braindead, click-to-deploy developer actually thinks web views require 7 minutes to “compile for production,” then when live require 5-15 second “skeleton loaders” on entry is just a fact of life nobody can question or ever improve on modern 5 GHz machines with 5 Gbps network connections. Developers, at the median, have been getting less capable and more focused on made up silo/cult/trendy dead-end fads for 10 years and the entire world suffers daily.”

Notion has formulas now (!) and here’s a formula to calculate a Cost of Delay column based on two other columns:

if(Value=="Killer" && Urgency=="ASAP", "1 Very High", if(Value=="Killer" && Urgency=="Soon" || Value=="Bonus" && Urgency == "ASAP", "2 High", if(Value=="Killer"&&Urgency=="Whenever"||Value=="Bonus"&&Urgency=="Soon"||Value=="Meh"&&Urgency=="ASAP", "3 Medium", if(Value=="Bonus"&&Urgency=="Whenever"||Value=="Meh"&&Urgency=="Soon", "4 Low", "5 Very Low"))))

Geertz’s theory of involution holds that a greater input (an increase in labor) does not yield proportional output (more crops and innovation). Instead, a society involutes. The Chinese term for involution, neijuan, which is made up of the characters for “inside” and “rolling,” suggests a process that curls inward, ensnaring its participants within what the anthropologist Xiang Biao has described as an “endless cycle of self-flagellation.” Involution is “the experience of being locked in competition that one ultimately knows is meaningless,” Biao told me.

A small online drama in three parts

Suppose you’re a well-known journalists hosting a weekly rather left podcast around topics such as migration, the climate and criticism of right-wing frames in the media. And then suppose you let yourself get baited majorly by an American alt-right activist.

This particular video was going around on German twitter and all the usual suspects were letting themselves get baited by it including above mentioned Friedemann. I wrote about their podcast previously and I couldn’t resist so I confronted him on it.

So I got blocked.

I mean “obsessive”, sure. Being a major league hypocrite is one of the best ways to bait me.

I did listen to this podcast very regularly but after October 7th it’s become so absurdly pro-Israel that it invalidates their entire previous position. The only situation where I’ve seen people parrot a line so hardcore like that was Dutch men with Russian wives after Putin had just invaded the Crimean Peninsula (“You have to understand Putin has a point.”).

Listening to the Trash Future team describe and the digital twin profile created for entire populations seems very very reminiscent of “The Red Men” by Matthew de Abaitua which didn’t get the attention it deserved but was quite prescient. (minute 23 and on)

Elements from the book such as the corporation known as “Monad” (!) and robotic public service utilities called “Dr. Easy” are looking back from our current hellscape period a bit too on the nose.

See Dr. Easy act in this short film: