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

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

Autotext abbreviationPurposeExample
!!!Important| 🏆
!==Imporant today| 🏆 | 📆2022-06-09
!++Important tomorrow| 🏆 | 📆2022-06-10

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

Autotext abbreviationPurposeExample
+==Started waiting today➕2022-06-09
+–Started waiting yesterday➕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.

The mood is in control

I became flustered this afternoon. It was triggered when I let myself be more concerned with how I thought I was being seen, than what I needed to be doing.

From that point the day became much harder and it felt like everything was being thrown at me with speed. All I could do was react – not think – which compounded the problem.

That’s not a project

It only takes a single sentence to peturb. Last night, while listening to Episode 70: Anatomy of a Project List (, one of those sentences came out of the blue and has had me thinking every since.

Rosemary Orchard at one point said something like, "That’s not a project. That’s a goal." Immediately gears started turning in my head and I realised that many of my projects are in fact goals. It explains a lot why nothing ever happens on them. My focus and attention is wrong. I’m trying to go from goal to next action (task) and it’s too big a leap.

Here’s an example project title. "Update photo library". Granted, it is one of those on-going "projects" that never ends. Under it I know I need to:

  • curate the photos of the last 6-9 months
  • add the most recent photos taken by family members
  • add metadata to those photos
  • review all existing photos not yet marked "Final" for metadata, events and people
  • scan the remaining photo albums

It all boils down to "work on some of that stuff when I have the inclination to"

Now I’m thinking a little differently. My role is Curator of family memories with the goal to Add metadata to all family photos. Why that goal is important to me, I’ve not yet parsed.

From there, and as I review my role and goal, I’ll come up with projects. They will be something like:

  • Scan album 15
  • Review metadata on photos from 1985
  • Import January 2022’s photos from Dropbox

Smaller, more focussed, and more likely to provide a sense of achievement.

I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up.