The most important thing to consider when building your own record keeping system is your needs and usage scenarios. Software shared by others may look particularly cool, but it’s not the best for you. Each note-taking software and recording method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the forced All-in-one experience is not necessarily the best. Just follow your own habits when choosing one.

When discussing note-taking systems, there are always self-deprecating voices that say, “I’m just using cool-looking software to write down the archives of wikis or web pages, so I can’t talk about any wisdom, let alone write in-depth thoughts”. With this kind of argument, the general public is criticized for not having the need to talk about note-taking systems. It’s true that most ordinary people like me don’t seem to be able to write deep insights or create amazing works. But we ordinary people also need to carry our memories, and have the need to collect our favorite articles, and moreover, we can write our own words. There’s no need to get caught up in this argument, just keep finding the right way to record yourself.

Personal Record System

Obsidian: an electronic scrapbook that aggregates information from all over the world and deposits some of your own thoughts.

Pros: Synchronized across all devices; smooth cutting and archiving; theme has been adjusted to 80% of its own aesthetics
Cons: inconvenient to view and edit on iPad and iPhone; inconvenient to process pictures; sync via iCloud, no synchronization and collaboration with family members.

Day One: Diary to record daily life; photo notebook, archiving software operation.

Pros: Theme design is very beautiful; easy to insert pictures; that year and today is very comfortable
Cons: timeline through 1000+ diary entries, can not be accurately located, there will be lag. This is a paid software

Ticktock: monthly check, daily check, synchronize to-do list with family members.

Pros: organize your thoughts; easy to review what you’ve done; synchronize and collaborate with family members
Cons: forced To-do-list has psychological pressure, collection has not been tuned to the most comfortable state

Apple memo: record mature list, temporary shorthand archive, electronic sketchbook.
Paper notebooks: Post some favorite, memorable notes.


After using OneNote for 4 years, I finally gave up on OneNote and started looking for a new workhorse software after several experiences of not being able to find the notes I was looking for, copying text that didn’t paste smoothly, and not being able to organize my notes into new articles.

Personally, the positioning of the main software is an electronic scrapbook, I need the main software to be able to archive web articles, record reading notes, archive personal works, and form my own thoughts on a certain topic.

After trying many programs in the market, I finally decided to use Obsidian as my main software.

The reasons for using Obsidian are as follows:
Localized notes, fast opening speed, no need to wait, no need to worry about losing notes.
Use iCloud to synchronize notes across Mac, iPad, iPhone, Windows devices.

It is extremely smooth to archive web pages with MarkDownload – Markdown Web Clipper browser plugin, and to archive WeChat reading notes with Notepal browser plugin.
Obsidian’s iteration speed is fast, the plugin marketplace is rich in plugins, and the functionality is sufficient to meet my needs.

However, Obsidian itself has a certain learning cost, which is only quoted here: Obsidian itself is a plain text database, the use of Obsidian is essentially the processing of plain text, can be combined with a variety of software to deal with plain text.

Obsidian has forums and many blogs on this topic, in the process of using it, we encountered problems or want to realize the function, search for related keywords in the search engine can often find the solution very quickly.

Personal Obsidian Usage
My Obsidian’s rough workflow: Collect (save articles or WeChat reading notes via browser plugin) – Organize (read articles, highlight, write summary if it’s a particularly important article, annotate thoughts and questions that arise) – Organize articles into relevant topics.

Here’s how my Obsidian is currently structured: I use a Notion-like homepage, open the “Kanban” file by default via the Homepage plugin, and in this file, I use two-way links to build up personal interest topics and learning topics, and then place files of the same type in each topic.

If you come across an article that you can’t categorize, just put it in “Hard to categorize articles”, or leave a folder for articles that you can’t make sense of right now.

Compared to the traditional folder organization, it’s easier to visualize what’s going on by putting related topics in a folder.

Suggestions for Using Obsidian
Choose a theme you like: Personally, the reason I failed to try Obsidian for the first time is that I don’t like the UI design of Obsidian very much, compared with Notion, OneNote and other software, I always feel that the interface of Obsidian is not quite to my liking. Although there are many themes in the software theme market, there are always 1 or 2 aspects of each theme that do not meet my preferences. After trying several themes, I combined the features of several themes, such as the citation style of Theme A, the title style of Theme B, and the highlighting style of Theme C, and let my lover copy the code of each theme for me to form a theme that I feel most comfortable with.

Use Dataview cautiously: Almost all the articles on Obsidian’s experience will recommend Dataview, and I really feel that this plug-in is very powerful after trying it out. I mainly use this plugin to list news and personal works on my homepage. However, it should be noted that Dataview’s code effects can’t be displayed in other Markdown editors, which makes subsequent migrations inconvenient.

Use plug-ins carefully: Obsidian’s plug-in market is so powerful that it seems that every user’s need can be met by a corresponding plug-in. In the stage of just contact, it is easy to get lost in the exploration of plug-ins, which is very normal, explore it as you wish, the enthusiasm will have to wear out. When you get over it, you will realize that the record itself is more important than exploring the features.

Day One

Since my freshman year of college, I decided to start keeping a diary with a pen, and by the time I graduated from my undergraduate program, I had already kept 7 diaries. After graduating from my undergraduate program, I kept 7 diaries. Since it was difficult to carry around thick books, I started to explore the possibility of using an electronic diary.

The diary is more like a conversation between myself and myself, and many thoughts that I don’t want to share on social media can be written in this private app.

When I did my year-end summary, I reviewed all my records from the time I first started working to now, and I could clearly feel the changes in my mindset and thoughts, and my exploration of personal boundaries.

The reason I use Day One is very simple: the UI design of the software is especially beautiful, the synchronization speed is fast, the opening does not lag, and the layout of multiple images is excellent.

Day One defaults to a timeline view, a media view, a map view, and a calendar view, and Day One’s year-and-today feature is a highlight, so I check it out every day and marvel at the fact that I used to write such thoughts and have such silly things to say. Since Day One doesn’t have a pinning/pinning feature, I created a folder to archive entries that I need to view over and over again.


The to-do list app I’m still using is TickTick, and the free version has enough features for me.

The main application scenarios are organizing personal to-do ideas, collaborating with family members, and regular summary review.

Personal To-Do List

Personal list is mainly about the following:
Daily To-Do, usually named in the form of “Date-Check”, to sort out what to do every day, one by one.

Monthly to-do, every month there are things that need to be done repeatedly, such as replacing the filter cartridge of the water purifier, toilet cleaner replacement, reimbursement of expenses, subscription service after phone bill recharge. Sort out what needs to be done each month by setting up a repeating list.

Record Commitments to others, Flags, ideas that you want to solve but can’t at the moment.

Family List – Collaborate with family members

The free version of TickTick is also open to collaboration with others and synchronization is relatively fast.
Usually, you will share to-dos with your loved ones, such as places you want to see in your travel destinations, home to-dos, items you want to purchase, and menus created by 2 people together. Yes, tick lists are possible to write collaborative notes and view them really well.

Summary Review

The summary feature of TickTick does a particularly good job of making it especially easy to look back at what was done over a period of time.

However, a lot of the little things you do on the fly are done straight away and aren’t recorded in the tickler list, so reviewing them in this way can leave some things out.

I like to use the emoji x to annotate unfinished items. Due to complexity, many to-dos may not get done as expected, and accumulating them is mentally stressful instead, so I simply use x to make an annotation with the reason why I didn’t finish it. After a period of time and then retrieve x, so that all such to-do can be reviewed, with the increase of experience and experience, there may be to-do is not so important or have a better solution. One still has to let oneself go.

Apple Memo

Personally, I like to use Apple Memo to record mature lists, such as the previously released “What can I do in 5mins?, “Household chores”, “Consumables restocking”, “Travel Tips”. The reason why you don’t use TickTick to record these lists is that the free version of TickTick has a cap on the number of to-do notes for each list. Although I can create notes in Ticktock and write Markdown To-do lists with the notes, the font size is too small, so I finally chose Apple Memo Pad.

If you have a paper sketchbook, why not an electronic one? After a certain update, Apple Memo has added the function of Quick Memo, which can be triggered by Mac’s trigger corner or iPhone’s widget. If there is something you need to write down temporarily in your daily record, you can directly open the Quick Memo and write it down in the electronic sketchbook.

Paper Record Book

I keep very few records in a paper notebook these days, mainly posting memorable tickets and paper products, although these can be scanned as PDFs and transferred to an electronic journal, but I’m still lazy.


The system I’m currently running has a lot of shortcomings, and I still have the following things I want to achieve that I haven’t been able to:

Recipe tables: localized database tables for easy filtering and positioning.

Ledger: automated import and review of the ledger, similar to a table? The goal is to have a more concrete sense of the value of money.

Simple categorization of books and movies: will they be rewritten?

Obsidian: how to implement Notion comments-like annotations.

Any suggestions on how to do this would be most welcome, as my own ideas and experience are rather modest.

This is the whole content of this article, this article just want to give you inspiration, you choose your favorite way to record it. If you have your own preferred way of recording and the whole system is running very smoothly, you can completely ignore my bullshit above, continue to record in their favorite way. It would be nice to have 1 or 2 points in this article to give the reader a little inspiration.

Published by Tony Shepherd & last updated on April 13, 2024 8:41 am

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