Backlinks are important

Backlinks are links on a web page/note that list other web pages/notes which refer to it. Within my digital garden, backlinks are critical in making connections between ideas. They are important because content does not always flow in one direction and knowing what links to a particular page can create a more informative context or open up new avenues of learning.

Backlinks are not hierarchical

If TopicA links to TopicB, it may not be obvious that there is a connection when looking at TopicB particularly as content in a digital garden is almost always non-hierarchical. Instead of:

we have:

It’s a lot of work to create and maintain all these backlinks and secondly, by simply writing and linking pages, the list of backlinks can highlight connections between pages in unexpected ways which generate new ideas and relationships.

To be useful backlinks must be automatically generated

Creating backlinks by hand gets old, very quickly. There two primary reasons for this are:

  1. Interrupting the flow of work has a tax and the mechanical act of linking pulls you out of your thinking. That disjoint and shift of focus means it takes a moment to get back into the groove.
  2. If you change the name of a note you have to find all the backlinks from other pages and rename them. This makes it hard to be productively lazy.

I use Obsidian to manage my content and it automatically creates the backlinks for each page. It also shows my potential backlinks ie., pages which refer to the name of a page but which have not been explicitly linked yet.

Adding a due date to your tasks is a mistake


The Getting Things Done methodology would have us not date tasks at all and instead work through contexts that help us make decisions on what do to based on the resources available to us. If something must happen on a day, use a calendar instead.

My dated tasks had become a calendar in another form.

Typically I will add dates when when:

  • The task is tracking something I’m waiting for. There will be a date for when the request is made and a date for when I require a response. Having said that, fewer waiting for tasks are getting a response date. I’ll catch that in my weekly review.
  • In my role I have quite a number of task that recur weekly, fortnighly or monthly. As my calendar is for blocked time I don’t want to store these tasks there. Instead I have them as tasks with dates and I roll the dates over each time. These include reports I have to run, bank transfers I need to make, backups that have to occur etc. In total these tasks wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes in a day and it doesn’t matter when on that day they get done. This approach gets them out of my mind and into my trusted system.

I still find myself falling into the habit of adding due dates. It’s easier than remembering to look at the task list eah morning and trust myself.

How to enter dates quickly

I find myself entering dates all the time. In filenames, for tasks and in documents. As I’m Productively Lazy I use a text expander to save me time.

Read through to the bottom of the post for a link to download the text expansions I use daily.

Date formats

I use 2 date formats. YYYY-MM-DD and d MMMM YYYY. For today these are 2022-06-09 and 9 June 2022. To create these I use PhraseExpress with the following keystrokes. All are set to run immediately upon keying in.

All calculations are smart enough to wrap over month and year boundaries.

Standard day text, used anywhere

Autotext abbreviationPurposeExample
d==Today as YYYY-MM-DD2022-06-09
d++Tomorrow as YYYY-MM-DD2022-06-10
d–Yesterday as YYYY-MM-DD2022-06-08
dd=Today as d MMMM YYYY9 June 2022
dd+Tomorrow as d MMMM YYYY10 June 2022
dd-Yesterday as d MMMM YYYY8 June 2022
d2w2 weeks from today23 June 2022

Getting Things Done

Within Obsidian I use the Dataview plugin‘s features to help me manage tasks. The way I work, I only need created and due dates. All are in YYYY-MM-DD format and is prefixed with a “| ” to help split dates on a row eg “| πŸ“†2022-06-09”.

The “Next” abbreviations are smart enough to know that if today is Thursday, you mean Thursday next week, but Saturday this week.

Autotext abbreviationPurposeExample
#==Due today| πŸ“†2022-06-09
#++Due tomorrow| πŸ“†2022-06-10
#1wDue 1 week from today| πŸ“†2022-06-16
#2wDue 2 weeks from today| πŸ“†2022-06-23
#3wDue 3 weeks from today| πŸ“†2022-06-30
#4wDue 4 weeks from today| πŸ“†2022-07-07
#–Due yesterday| πŸ“†2022-06-08
#monNext Monday| πŸ“†2022-06-13
#tueNext Tuesday| πŸ“†2022-06-14
#wedNext Wednesday| πŸ“†2022-06-15
#thuNext Thursday| πŸ“†2022-06-16
#friNext Friday| πŸ“†2022-06-17
#satNext Saturday| πŸ“†2022-06-19
#sunNext Sunday| πŸ“†2022-06-19

I use !!! and a the Dataview plugin to filter out the must do today items.

Autotext abbreviationPurposeExample
!!!Important| πŸ†
!==Imporant today| πŸ† | πŸ“†2022-06-09
!++Important tomorrow| πŸ† | πŸ“†2022-06-10

Whenver I have a “@waiting for” task, I put in the date I started waiting using:

Autotext abbreviationPurposeExample
+==Started waiting todayβž•2022-06-09
+–Started waiting yesterdayβž•2022-06-08

Download my abbreviations

You can download a file containing my abbreviations for import into PhraseExpress. Expand the .zip file and the import. They will all work on Windows. The day based Getting Things Done abbreviations (Mon-Sun) may not work so well on a Mac.

Interrupting the flow of work has a tax

Nobody likes interruptions (unless they are good news) but regardless, each interruption that occurs takes not only the time of the interruption itself but a little longer as you strive to get back to where you were beforehand.

If you are in a flow state, this can take a long time and there is a risk you may not regain your previous level of thinking.

Reducing the cost of interruption tax

There are a few steps you can take to reduce the cost of an interruption tax.

  1. Limit the change of being interrupted. This can be anything from finding somewhere quite to work, to closing the door, to putting your phone on Do Not Disturb or making effective requests of those around you to keep away for a time.
  2. The previous step is even better if you can find a time where interruptions are less likely. [^1]
  3. Develop the habit of pausing for a moment when the interruption first occurs to take a quick note on whatever it was you were thinking of so that you can pick it up later. Then when you return to your task, refresh your memory.
  4. Ask briefly for a moment to complete what you are doing. Most will accomodate and it has the added benefit of improving your listening to the concerns of others because they have your full attention.

[^1]: This could be why many of us are more productive working from home than in an office.

To publish or not to publish

On and off I have the grand dream of being able to share my knowledge and thoughts online in some kind of linked notes database.

I’m currently doing what I can at and I thought I had it all worked out. Today, I’m not so sure.

There are competing pressures which ebb and flow. I am using Obsidian extensively as my personal knowledge management system. It contains notes, journal entries, receipts, finance information, and more. At the 1:1 level (ie. me to me) it is perfect. However, if I want to manage shared content within it, then everything needs to be considered in more detail and it gets awkward.

  • By default Obsidian Publish will publish all pages unless told not to. To protect against accidentally publishing private content I need to add publish: false at the top of each page. Even so, there is still a risk of linking to a receipt, or insurance document, and publishing that online without realising it as linked files can’t be protected against upload.
  • Published pages can have multiple unlinked notes. Within Obsidian, these links show up and provide me with information. They are not always links that should be published.
  • The Obsidian Dataview plugin doesn’t work on the published site. I rely on it extensively to automatically generate content that I would otherwise have to manage manually. Who needs to waste that time?
  • I didn’t have any other platform other than Obisidan Publish. Now I have had to introduce a WordPress site ( for RSS feeds that Publish can’t provide. I may as well shift my content over there instead, publishing only final articles, without the risk of sharing private content.

I think my decision is made. Now to actually make it and do the work of moving the content over 😁.

The true nature of meetings

A couple of days ago, my dauughter asked in all seriousness if I spent all day in mneetings, or did I get a chance to do some actual work. She’d been in a 1.5hr meeting planning some activities for her Uni course.

It led me to think:

What meetings should be – conversations where we share information in order to coordinate action.

What meetings too often are – opportunities to force opinions in order to coerce others.

Building R2-D2 in LEGO

This is a record of my effort building R2-D2 in lego. It has a total 2314 pieces. Finished it is over 31cm (13”) high, 19cm (8”) wide and 15cm (6”) deep.

Day 1, 29 March 2022

The first day of a new LEGO build is always exciting. Full of wonder and anticipation. As normal with these type of builds, the first few are internal structures. This was the first time I’ve ever used rubber-bands in a build. I have the internal assembly for the middle leg.

Day 2, 30 March 2022

I forgot to take a photo. Pretty easy build adding the middle foot (wheels?).

Day 3, 31 March 2022

Things are starting to get complex. I have the internal frame for R2’s body now. Quite a few trick instructions to get it placed correctly and make sure it was all in position.

Day 4, 1 April 2022

A double build today. Got to the end of the instructions for Bag 4 and thought, "Wow, there are lot of pieces left." I had to do it all again.

Starting to get a feel for the model’s overall size now.

Day 5, 2 April 2022

A reasonably easy build today with the outer legs being framed up.

> WARNING > Before pinning the legs in instructions 170 and 208, make sure that you refer to the alignment of levers in instructions 96-97 and 104-105. The pin will lock the levers in place and it’s easy to lock either in the wrong position (even independently). That will impact the way the middle leg drops down. I’m still not sure I have right! > > Thanfully it is easy to take off the side panels if you can’t work it out. Do one leg at a time and refer to the red-green framework for reference.

Day 6, 3 April 2022

This was the biggest build day so far even before including the 20 mins of troubleshooting. All three legs are now in place.

When I fixed the legs and tried to drop down the middle leg, something wasn’t right and it took some time of pulling things apart — which is thankfully easy — to check alignment of levers put in 3 days before.

Other than that, it was a good fun build. Amazing how many pieces are packed into each foot.

Day 7, 5 April 2022

Skipped a day due to feeling unwell but picked up the next. R2 now has his legs fully covered. It was a little frustrating at one point as I had a 1 x1 clip rotated the wrong way and so a panel that fit on one leg, wouldn’t fit on the other. So simple, yet it took 5 minutes to work out.

The most challenging piece of the day’s build was this instruction.

And here is a leg.

Day 8, 6 April 2022

A partial build today, with half of the front panel done. That’s all the bag had.

Day 9, 7 April 2022

After yesterday’s partial build, it was satisfying to complete the front panel and have it all locked in place. It isn’t shown in the photo below, but there are two vertical panels, left and right, which open up.

Day 10, 8 April 2022

Not R2’s best side. The back is now complete. The pins left and right open the front panels from yesterday’s build. Nothing too challenging here apart from placing the flat panels on the top correctly (difficult to see at this angle).

Day 11, 9 April 2022

I broke with form today and decided to complete the final 3 bags and give R2 a head. Concentration was required as the placement of pieces relative to one another was important. A couple of times I had to backtrack to who steps that I’d missed as each looked so similar from one to the next.

Daily progress record

Date Bag Set # Time Cumulative Time Completed Instructions
2022-03-29 1/13 0h 20m 0h 20m 23/527
2022-03-30 2/13 0h 20m 0h 40m 56/527
2022-03-31 3/13 0h 45m 1h 25m 105/527
2022-04-01 4/13 0h 36m 2h 01m 132/527
2022-04-02 5/13 0h 38m 2h 39m 209/527
2022-04-03 6/13 1h 20m 3h 59m 285/527
2022-04-05 7/13 0h 27m 4h 26m 298/527
2022-04-06 8/13 0h 23m 4h 49m 346/527
2022-04-07 9/13 0h 23m 5h 12m 373/527
2022-04-08 10/13 0h 30m 5h 42m 409/527
2022-04-09 11-13/13 1h 25m 7h 07m 527/527

Building instructions

Building instructions can be found at

Building the Millennium Falcon in Lego

Check out my notes on building the Millennium Falcon.

That little bug

I have just come across my personal journal post from 17 March 2020.

Was thinking there is a little bug screwing up the planet. But it’s not that.

It’s our fear of death.

More than 2 years on, the fear of death is the same. Now, we’re not so sure that little bug will be the cause.