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How I Manage Tasks (and more) in Obsidian


  1. Overview
  2. Core Setup
    1. Plugins
    2. File Structure
    3. Templates
      1. The Daily Note Template
      2. The Person Template
      3. The Project Template
  3. Workflow
  4. References and Other Reading
  5. Changelog

Introduction #

I use Obsidian for a custom system that combines task management with daily journaling and free-form note taking. My goal was a balance between simplicity, flexibility, and portability. While this does utilize Obsidian-specific plugins, it doesn't rely on them to keep the information. Everything is still markdown. Any plugin is essentially a shortcut/workflow enabler.

Note: This guide covers templates and a workflow and assumes you know the basics of using Obsidian and plugins. I'm sure there are a thousand ways to improve this. If you have any questions, ideas, suggestions, or just want to say 'hi', I'm at hello at

My task management workflow is loosely inspired by David Allen's "Getting Things Done", using concepts like Next Action, Wating For, periodic reviews, reminders (ticklers), and contexts.

The Obsidian system is driven by a few key components:

  1. Daily notes: Each day has a note which is used for free-form journaling, task lists for today's relevant notes, and any other relevant daily information such as repeatable habits or checklists.

  2. Person notes: Each person I interact with (primarily professionally) has a note (title prefixed with @). In this note I can display a list of tasks where they are mentioned and any other important information I need to remember about the person.

  3. Project notes: Each project I'm working on has an index page which will house a list of tasks as well as any other project information (links to other notes, etc.)

  4. Tags and context lists: Tasks are categorized by tags and viewable in lists based on context.

System Overview #

The system is driven by a Daily Note and its connections to People Notes and Project Notes.

Benefits of this system #

Downsides of this system #

Core Setup #

So, how do I set all this up? It's a combination of plugins, a vault structure, and some templates. Once all that is in place, there's a workflow that runs the show.

Plugins #

Besides the obvious installation of Obsidian, my system relies on the following plugins:

A few of other plugins are optional but make things a little easier:

Vault Structure #

I started with a PARA structure, but modified it over time to fit my needs.

Folder Contains
Lists Pages that display consolidated task lists (Next Actions, Waiting For, Contexts, All Tasks).
Inbox New random notes go here which gives me a central place to do a daily review
Diary Daily notes go here. At the end of a month I group them in to a month subfolder and then a year subfolder.
People People notes go here. I have a note for each person I interact with. This enables a quick view of tasks related to an individual when I talk to them.
Projects Each project has a main note and other sub notes, if necessary. Information about the project and project tasks go here
Projects/Reminders I store lists of recurring task, one-off tasks, or reminders in files in this sub-directory. This is for everything that doesn't have a project associated with it or just a simple reminder. Examples include "Household Reminders", "Financial Reminders", "Birthdays & Anniversaries".
Reference A filing cabinet of notes I want to keep. Not related to task management.
Archive I move old projects here and exclude this folder from the quick switcher via Obsidian settings.
Templates All templates go here.

Templates #

Templates are the heart of the system. They set up the Daily Note, Person Notes, and Project Notes

The Daily Note Template #

Each day I generate a daily note. Here's a sample of a rendered daily note:

A screen capture of a sample daily note from the sample vault

This is generated from a sample Daily Note template (source) which has three important task queries: Tasks Planned Today, Today's Reminders, and Tasks Completed Today.

Tasks Planned Today

This lists out any uncompleted tasks that have been either set to be DUE today (or earlier) or SCHEDULED today (or earlier). I do not personally use deadline, I simply review daily and schedule tasks.

(due before {{date:YYYY-MM-DD}}) OR (scheduled before {{date:YYYY-MM-DD}})
not done
path does not include Reminders
group by priority

Group by priority is my personal workflow preference. You can group or sort however you like. Another personal preference is that I exclude items in my "Reminders" folder from this task list and I pull them into a separate query below with the inverse path statement.

NOTE This query relies a bit on using the Global Task Filter feature of the Tasks plugin. Using this, I tag anything that is actually a task with a #task tag. The queries will ignore anything without that tag, enabling the creation of resusable checklists, such as my Daily Review or other shopping lists. If you don't use this, you have to put exclusion clauses in your queries by filename or by heading or some other method (this gets messy).

Today's Reminders

Same query as above, inverting the statement about the "Reminders" path. A personal preference to pull these separately.

(due before {{date:YYYY-MM-DD}}) OR (scheduled before {{date:YYYY-MM-DD}})
not done
path includes Reminders
Tasks Completed Today

For my Daily Review, this provides everything completed on that day.

done <% tp.file.title %>
hide due date
hide recurrence rule
hide done date
heading does not include Daily Review

This will show the completed task and what file it originated in.

Besides those queries, the rest of the content on the page is essentially supporting links and content that I might find useful during the day such as a Daily Review checklist. This changes relatively frequently.

The Person Template #

I keep a note associated with each person I interact with. This may sound a little creepy at first, but all it really does is house a query of tasks where I mention that person. This could be done with tags (e.g. #person/JohnDoe) but you still have to house that query somewhere so I still needed the note.

Person notes are prefixed with a @ to make it easy to filter when inserting a link or opening the file from the Obsidian quick switcher.

The Person note has two main uses:

  1. Houses the query that shows all tasks where this person is tagged. So, when I'm talking to them, I can pull up a list of everything I want to discuss, review, or delegate to them.
  2. Backlinks to this file serve as a record of when I met with an individual. I simply link to them in my Daily Note journal (see sample vault).

The Project Template #

I keep a note associated with any project I'm working on. I use the GTD definition of a project: Anything that has multiple steps and a defined outcome.

I keep projects in a folder so I can group supporting notes with the parent project note. Project notes are prefixed with a p- to aid in filtering again. When a project is complete, it gets moved to the archive and the prefix changes to a-.

Tip: If you have a lot of projects, frontmatter fields are useful at the index note to allow for a dataview query to build different project lists for you. Sometimes I use this method, sometimes I don't. It depends on my workload.

Project notes have the following uses:

  1. Hold tasks related to the project.
  2. Backlinks to the note, generally originating in Daily Notes, will show a history of my time spent on the project.
  3. Other notes, external links, or general information is indexed on the project note.

Workflow #

  1. At the end of the day, I do my "Daily Review" checklist which includes:

    • Emptying all my inboxes and creating any necessary tasks
    • Reviewing the current day's notes and new tasks and updating as needed
    • Reviewing all open projects and their tasks and updating as needed
    • Choosing tasks for the next day from #NextActions. I mark those tasks as scheduled for the next day using the tasks plugin.
  2. When the review is done, I generate the Daily Note for the next day and review the tasks I assigned as well as the reminders that have been created for that day. Then, I set priorities for the day. I use a 2+n method of prioritization: Two tasks that absolutely MUST get done (high priority) and n (up to 8 or 10) that I could work on (medium priority + reminders for the day).

  3. I set up my journal for the day by putting placeholder headings in the Daily Note for big meetings and pre-linking them to People and/or Project notes. I pin the next day's note and close the current day.

There are definitely efficiencies that can be found with more advance uses of plugins, Templater, and other tips and tricks. The possibilities are pretty vast. If you have some suggestions, ideas, questions, or just want to say 'hi' or thanks, you can reach me at hello at

References (and other reading) #

Changelog #

2023.02.25: Formatting updates, spelling fixes, and some links added

2023.01.28: Initial Version