- John Mavrick
Feel free to watch the video version here
How do Notion and Obsidian compare for different use cases like task management, daily journaling, and note-taking?
I’ve been using Obsidian for over a year and Notion for a few months, so I’ve been able to experiment with both apps to see what works best for me.
I've tried all of these cases on both apps, observing their different pros and cons.
Of course, your use cases might be different, and I might be a little biased towards Obsidian, but I hope my reasons and examples can help you choose the right app for your needs.
Task and Project Management
Obsidian used to be my go-to for managing to-do lists and projects, but after having an affair and trying out Notion, I don’t think I can go back.
First off, I really enjoy the simplicity and functionality of Notion database views.
Whether it be kanban boards, calendar views or simple lists, Notion lets you organize your tasks the way you want to.
On the other hand, Obsidian also has its own tables and kanban plugins, but you don’t have as much creative freedom in the layout as Notion allows.
You can move and embed things in Notion to fit all on one page, but the same can’t be said for Obsidian.
Properties Customization Another selling point of Notion is its extensive properties support.
The only fields you can set for Obsidian notes are text-based metadata, which is quite limiting in comparison to Notion’s support for dates, multi-selections, and checkboxes.
With these properties, you can easily sort and filter your pages, which is a bit more tedious to do in Obsidian.
Unlike how you can just change the views or sorts in Notion, Obsidian requires you to either modify the code or create a new table entirely.
With notion’s features, I have different kanban boards for things like my monthly goals, projects, and youtube videos, which then have different viewing options and sorting methods.
If you want to see how I used to set things up in Obsidian, you can watch my dedicated task and project management video.
Anyways, after praising Notion, it’s time to stop neglecting my precious, purple child.
This might be a spicy, hot take, but hear me out:
Obsidian is a clear winner when it comes to note-taking.
Connect Your Thinking First off, the zettlekasten methodology of Obsidian has helped me be more wholistic in my note-taking approach.
Instead of only using folders as a structure, I can use these connections to create an interconnected web of my ideas
Abundance of Resources A second thing I’d like to note is the Obsidian community’s content ecosystem
Even after using Obsidian for a year, sources like the active discord or Eleanor’s weekly roundup help introduce new plugins, workflows, and discussions to improve my own system
User Experience I just generally prefer the typing and user experience when taking notes
Instead of the lag and page loading I experience 24/7 in notion, the different hotkeys and plugins on Obsidian make note-taking more fluid and efficient
I find things like the note quick switcher useful for easily searching and creating notes, and paired with hotkeys to add or close panes, it makes navigating my notes fluid.
Then, I can further speed up my note-taking by having templates and cursor locations to quickly create my notes, along with many other hotkeys.
Viewing Notes Lastly, Notion allows you to structure your notes and add columns, but it’s a pain to open notes side by side as you have to open new browsers
I much prefer Obsidian’s sliding panes plugin that lets me smoothly navigate through my different notes
Another view available is the side bars in Obsidian. This lets me use widgets to help me
- show the outline or graph of the note I'm currently on
- access starred or recent files
- view backlinks with other notes like mentioned earlier
You can then save these different view combinations into workspaces depending on what you’re doing.
I have workspaces for book note writing to establish checkpoints from previous reading sessions.
Now that I’ve covered one good thing for each app, what’s something they are both capable of doing?
Daily and Weekly Notes
If you want to maintain a daily journal or conduct weekly reviews, you can honestly use either app to fill this need. I personally like to use Obsidian for daily notes and Notion for weekly notes.
When I’m journalling I like to reflect, which can lead to some neat insights I may want to expand on
In Obsidian I can make notes to elaborate on my thoughts and further flesh them out using prompts, which I can then connect to related ideas in my vault
Although I did say properties are better in Notion, I can easily include inline metadata throughout my note to keep track of different statistics in their relevant sections. I can then review these values using graphs to visualize things like my energy levels throughout a week
For weekly reviews, I also used to use Obsidian, but have recently switched to Notion.
During my weekly reviews, I like to plan for the future, so I think it's more convenient to have it in the same place as my tasks and projects.
I also like having the different database views to creatively group the different parts of my weekly review, which allows me more creativity than a linear header system.
If I were to make 7 different sections for my weekly review each time in Obsidian, it would only clutter my vault
Now that you know a bit about the strengths and weaknesses of each app, here’s an example of how I would go about incorporating both of them into a certain area in my life.
To manage my school life, I use each app for its respective strengths.
All my note-taking and info management happen in Obsidian, while all my project and study planning happens in Notion.
As I mentioned earlier, I just greatly prefer the smooth note-taking experience Obsidian provides.
Visualization Visualizing a concept map of my notes helps me view all the specific details into one big picture, cultivating a higher-order understanding.
People like to make exam review notes on Notion using toggle blocks, but you can do the same using Obsidian. Better yet, you can turn your notes into flashcards to make the review process active and effective.
On the other hand, I use notion’s databases to organize things like assignments, study plans, and timetables as they’re more for planning and less about permanent knowledge I would want in my notes.
It’s inconvenient to collaborate or share notes on Obsidian, so Notion helps with their sharable links and online editing.
If you want to learn more, check out this video where I try Notion for a week.
I used to only use Obsidian.
But after experimenting with Notion, I noticed both apps have their own strengths and weaknesses.
If you want to learn more note-taking and learning insights, consider subscribing to me on YouTube ;)