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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
Today as YYYY-MM-DD
Tomorrow as YYYY-MM-DD
Yesterday as YYYY-MM-DD
Today as d MMMM YYYY
9 June 2022
Tomorrow as d MMMM YYYY
10 June 2022
Yesterday as d MMMM YYYY
8 June 2022
2 weeks from today
23 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.
Due 1 week from today
Due 2 weeks from today
Due 3 weeks from today
Due 4 weeks from today
I use !!! and a the Dataview plugin to filter out the must do today items.
| 🏆 | 📆2022-06-09
| 🏆 | 📆2022-06-10
Whenver I have a “@waiting for” task, I put in the date I started waiting using:
Started waiting today
Started waiting yesterday
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.
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.