Organizing your digital life is more important today than ever before. While organizational systems have long existed for e-mails and files, digital note-taking software is still relatively in its infancy.
Although I think that a system should be independent of a program to be able to use it for years and decades, it is still important to find a suitable program. In my search, I came across Obsidian. Obsidian processes notes in Markdown format. This means that files are saved as plain text, whose syntax can be interpreted by any text processor.
In my “Second Brain” I collect and process all notes. Everything that is not a file or email and cannot be deleted goes here.
In this article, you'll learn more about maintaining your digital toolbox.
I don't think you can adopt my system one-to-one, and I'm convinced that I will change it over time. Therefore, I do not want to convince you of a certain approach. On the contrary: Question my approach!
If you take a critical look at my approach, it will become clear which system suits you. But don't make these mistakes in your Second Brain.
My folder structure ranges between the two camps that exist in the digital note-taking community. Some swear by a strict folder structure, others don't create folders at all and just use the links between notes which you can create with [[two square brackets]].
I have numbered the main folders one through five. The structure of this article is also based on these folders. The main categories each have more or less subfolders.
At the risk of overwhelming you, this is my folder structure, which I will explain in detail in this article.
In this folder I store all notes related to currently running projects. The length of these notes varies greatly and they are deleted or archived when the project is completed.
That's why the content of this folder, including the subfolders, is very changeable. Here you can often find brainstorming ideas.
In this folder I store all notes that have to do with one of my areas of life. These notes are a bit more permanent than the project notes, but still change regularly.
Most of the time I save ideas about a certain topic here, for example my website, before I implement them as part of a project. It often happens that task area notes are converted into project notes sooner or later.
In the “Connections” folder I store my notes on the people I am in contact with. Now that sounds more like spying than it should! The notes consist only of contact information and some keywords. If someone tells me they have a specific wish, I write it down so I can come back to it around Christmas time, for example.
If I ever find myself in the situation of recommending someone to do X in area Y, I can easily filter my notes for that. I can also link people in my diary (see below).
I divide my contacts into groups: family, friends, acquaintances, school, university, and business. All other people, mostly authors, go into the folder unsorted. Since Obsidian displays folders at the top, I maintain an overview.
I describe why you should keep such a logbook in my article “How to Remember Your Life.”
These notes are permanent and are the basic building block of my knowledge. they are the resources for my thinking. Because of this collection, I read faster and better.
Here you can find my literature notes, in which I summarize books. I have divided this folder into categories, for example finance, productivity and philosophy. I also link similar books to each other. If you want to learn more about my book notes, you can read my article “Creating a Knowledge Library.”
In the “Permanent Notes” folder, I store main statements and basic insights that I gather from various sources. An example would be the 2-minute rule.
My digital diary contains my weekly and yearly overviews since 2020. The current weekly overview is not yet sorted into the yearly folder so I can access it easily. I handwrite my daily overviews.
I describe my journaling routine and what daily, weekly, and annual overviews are in detail in my article “Review Your Own Life.”
Also located here are my checklists that I use for routines. For example, I have a checklist for publishing articles on this site.
There is a reason why this folder is at the bottom of the list: I never actively use it. It's where I store the templates for notes, such as the weekly overviews, so I don't have to retype the structure of each note.
Another subfolder contains the attachments (such as images and PDF files) that I embed in my notes.
My system is not as complex as it seems at first glance. Every note has a place, so there is no clutter.
As I wrote at the beginning: The point is not for you to adopt my system. Reflect on what demands you have on your notes and be inspired by my system and the approach of others!
I hope that you have been inspired. If so, feel free to read the articles I've linked to throughout this text to dig deeper into the topic.
I believe that a note-taking system is becoming increasingly important and will benefit you in your personal and professional life. The effort and expense are definitely worth the reward!
Start small and then build your individual organizational system step by step!
 This term was coined by Tiago Forte, who teaches an online course of the same name.