The magic hour

I have a lot of projects in my personal life which are so time-hungry it’s not possible to sit down and complete them in any one evening, weekend, or week on holiday. They are:

  • Cataloging my home photos in IMatch
  • Keeping up with organsing the knowledge in my personal knowledge management system, let alone using it to create new insights and knowledge
  • Completing a cross-stitch I purchased in April 2000

The idea of applying an hour of my time each day first came when considering my data in Obsidian. Simply getting my existing store of typed information organised is a lot of work and I can only do so much before it becomes tiresome. Nevermind linking and creating knowledge or writing new content.

One hour per day equates to 365 hours per year. For my 38-hour work week, that’s 9.6 weeks of effort.

From working for 30 years I have a strong internal sense of what 9.6 weeks, full time on a project would produce. The impact on my personal knowledge management system would be uncalculable.

All for an hour a day.

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.