Three ways to keep a project list in Obsidian

Kara Monroe
12 min readAug 5, 2022
Photo by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash

Obsidian is an outstanding tool for both personal knowledge management AND personal productivity. I wrote previously about three different ways to manage tasks in Obsidian. Today, we’re going to talk about another staple of personal productivity — keeping a list of your projects that is always current.

Before I dive into this, I want to give credit where it is due. I’ve refined much of my thinking about productivity through participation in R.J. Nestor’s incredible cohort-based course, AP Productivity. This course teaches you how to build, iterate, and document your own productivity system in a tool for thought. Currently, we actively discuss Roam Research, Obsidian, and Amplenote. That said, the principles R.J. teaches and the cohort members build on are applicable to any productivity system and it’s a great course to start building a productivity system if you don’t have one and want one.

Why keep a project list?

A project list first came on my radar screen when I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. From that point forward I’ve been trying to maintain an updated list of all the things that I’ve committed to do — whether that commitment was to myself or others. The project list helps you keep an eye — at a high level — on all the things that you’ve committed to do both now and in the future.

What is a project and how many projects should you have?

This is an area of immense contention. For instance, David Allen’s definition of a project — any activity requiring two or more actions — means that nearly everything you do gets put on your project list. I tend to think of projects in the following way:

  • A project has a clearly defined outcome (produce a workbook, spend 7 days vacationing in Hawaii, bake 12 dozen cookies for the holidays).
  • A project can have sub-projects each with its only clearly defined outcome (e.g. I have a Project Health project every year that has sub-projects of Annual Medical Visit, Annual Eye Doctor Visit, Annual Dental Visit).
  • That item also leads to the fact that projects can, and I’d argue should whenever possible, be recurring (e.g. Publish the Newsletter every Monday)
Kara Monroe

I am a world traveler, part-time road warrior, and home body all wrapped up in one gadget-loving package. Writer, photographer, chef, and aspiring artist.

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