Greetings and welcome to the eleventh blog post of: My Experience. For more information about this series click here. In this blog post I describe three ways in which you can use Obsidian Canvas.
For a while I have been using Obsidian, using the Zettelkasten system. In december 2022, release v1.1 (Obsidian forum), the Canvas plugin was introduced as core plugin. This means it is available in every recent Obisdian installation, without manual configuration. By default this new option will appear in the Ribbon:
When it was introduced to Obsidian Canvas I started to play around with it, soon it became part of my work routine. In this blog post I would like to share three examples of how you can get value out of the Obsidian Canvas feature.
If you want to read related content about Obsidian, please go to the end of the post for an overview.
Table of Contents
Three examples: how you can use Obsidian Canvas
To hopefully be of some help, I will give three examples of how I use the Obsidian Canvas in my daily work. These three will span a range of purposes, such as:
- Organizing Projects using Obsidian Canvas, including status tracking and relating information
- Applying the Principle; Connectivity of Thoughts
- Solve problems, combining Obsidian Canvas with the Fishbone diagram and Five times why
1. Organizing your projects in Obsidian Canvas
In my work I use Obsidian constantly for note taking about projects. For daily work I use notes for specific work periods, this is an index with references with a note for each month. Fleeting notes so to speak, including process information. Such as; what to do, the status etc.
Then there are “neater” project notes, which are more permanent in nature. These are notes about a project, that have a structure with headings, written about the subject, they preferably do not contain process information. In my format of working with this distinction, the canvas can help me connect these. It can be the bridge between the fleeting notes (process) and the permanent (subject/project) notes. In this the following paragraphs I will explain how.
Status tracking with colors
For tracking the status I will add cards to the canvas, then change the color to indicate completed steps (green) and yellow (active). You can change the color of components by simply right clicking and selecting the color palette.
- Cards click this
- A reference to a note click this
- Media that is already in your Obsidian Vault
To capture related information to the cards, you can draw lines between components. Even better; we can add text on the lines to describe the relationship. For managing projects, I do this by describing the relationship between action and notes. This could for example be; “Result”, “Input”, “Informative”.
2. Connectivity of thoughts in Obsidian Canvas
In Zettelkasten – the ultimate guide I have written before about the concept “Connectivity of thoughts” and how to apply it. In Zettelkasten this is the principle of connectivity, which has the goal to create new ideas from associating existing ones.
With Obsidian this can be achieved in multiple ways:
- Backlinks: Connecting notes directly by adding backlinks that refer other notes. The connections will be visible in the graph view.
- Tags: You can use tags to categorize notes. Also visible in the graph view.
- In the screenshot the graph view, The relationship between notes and tags are visible.
In the guide I have explained how to do this. There is a third way with the introduction of Obsidian Canvas. You can use this for ideas that have not been refined as much, or where notes are still missing for part of your conceptualization. Staying with the Graph view Example of investing topics:
Obsidian Canvas can help communicate the relationships between notes more clearly. Which can be used to refine your understanding more granular.
3. Solve problems with Obsidian Canvas
The Obsidian Canvas can be used to reason, to better understand issues and their causes. Clarify the blind spots in your thinking. Sometimes I use this method to visually represent my line of thinking. For example, you could use this with the “fishbone diagram” in combination with the “five times why”.
Fishbone (Ishikawa) diagram
This is a causal diagram that can be used to show the potential causes of a specific event. On the right the main issue, the branches represent contributing causes, with root causes attached to those. It doesn’t really look like fishbones, but you get the idea.
Five times why
The “five times why” can be used to get to the root cause of problems (recurring issues). To find the underlying cause. This can be used in combination with the fishbone diagram, or independently. For this example, let’s zoom in on “distractions” from the fishbone diagram.
In this simple example the five times why method helped me to formulate a counter measure to the underlying cause of not producing weekly content, because of distractions specifically. This is just one cause, why I don’t produce weekly content. But this example is to show that it can help to visualize reasoning with the Obisidan Canvas.
Obisidan Canvas – Conclusion
In this blog post I have described three ways how I use the Obsidian Canvas. Hopefully this post will help you get on your way. There are limitless ways to use the canvas, please let me know in the comments what your applications are.
In the past I have written about Obsidian, since it is the application that I use daily. In this chapter a short overview of related Know Act Invest content that might be of interest.
There is “Zettelkasten – the ultimate guide” here you can find all our zettelkasten content. I made this guide for those who are new to zettelkasten and look for a proper introduction. It also contains links to posts about my experience with applications for zettelkasten, including: Obsidian, Evernote, OneNote and Notion.
The guide also describes how I have configured Obsidian for my way of working.
When I first found out about Obsidian I wrote a blog post about it: Zettelkasten in Obsidian – #5 My Experience In the post I outline how I applied the Zettelkasten principles in Obsidian.