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Ric Raftis Consulting

The Johnny Decimal System: The Missing Piece in Your Quest for Obsidian Digital Zen

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In the ocean of information to which we are exposed in today’s world, the ability to effectively manage and leverage your personal knowledge has become a crucial skill for knowledge management and information retrieval or recall. Drowning in a sea of digital files, notes, and resources can hinder your productivity, creativity, and intellectual growth. The solution lies in establishing a robust personal knowledge management (PKM) system tailored to your unique needs.

The Johnny Decimal System

A previous article explored the Johnny Decimal approach and resulted in several questions around structure. This article will attempt to consider a flexible and scalable organisational framework for your PKM in the form of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Such an approach allows us to begin with a generic structure and then build it out and shape it to make it a bespoke system for your individual needs.

The Johnny Decimal system is not designed to be a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a customisable blueprint that you can adapt and build upon to suit your individual preferences and workflows. Hence the MVP approach. This article will guide you through the fundamental principles of this approach, offer strategies for tailoring it to your specific requirements, and provide practical tips for seamless integration with Obsidian.

The Johnny Decimal system was inspired by the Dewey Decimal Classification system and created by Johnny Noble from Canberra, Australia. You can read the history and much more on the website.

By integrating this method with a powerful note-taking app like Obsidian, you can create a personalised knowledge base that truly empowers you to capture, curate, and harness the wealth of information you encounter daily.

Unleash the Power of Personalised Knowledge Management

It does not matter whether you are a student, researcher, professional, or lifelong learner, the ability to effectively manage your personal knowledge can unlock new levels of productivity, creativity, and intellectual growth. By organising and arranging the chaos of information overload, you can:

  • Quickly search, locate and retrieve the information you need, when you need it
  • Effortlessly connect ideas, insights, and resources across different domains through linked notes
  • Foster a much deeper understanding and greater retention of the knowledge you acquire
  • Boost your decision-making capabilities and problem-solving skills
  • Unlock new avenues for innovation, exploration, and self-discovery
  • Build on existing notes as you discover new related knowledge.

The Johnny Decimal system provides a highly flexible framework to help you achieve these goals. By combining this organisational approach with the powerful features of Obsidian, you can create a personalised knowledge management system that truly empowers you to thrive in the digital age. Additionally, it also gives you a fighting chance in managing the volume of information and knowledge you find.

Adapting the Johnny Decimal System to Your Needs

While this article presents a comprehensive Johnny Decimal structure as an example, it’s essential to understand that this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The true power of this approach lies in its ability to be customised and tailored to your unique needs, workflows, and preferences.

As you explore implementing the Johnny Decimal system in Obsidian, remember that this is merely a starting point. It is important to experiment, rearrange, and add or remove categories as needed to ensure your knowledge management system aligns with the way you personally think, work, and learn. It is also important not to seek perfection in your attempts to set up this system but see it as an evolving and dynamic system that can change to meet your needs over time.

The great beauty of the Johnny Decimal method is its inherent flexibility. By embracing this adaptability, you can create a bespoke PKM system that becomes an invaluable extension of your cognitive abilities, empowering you to navigate the information landscape with confidence and ease. Developing a bespoke system will improve your use of information because the entire system is built around your personal relationship with the knowledge you generate and store.

Johnny Decimal MVP Example

00 Index

  • 00.00 Index Files
  • 00.01 Index Notes
  • 01.00 Obsidian
    • 01.01 Attachments (Obisidian images and PDFs go here)
    • 01.02 Obsidian Templates (There is provision for templates at 50.01. This area isolates Obsidian ones)

10 Life

  • 10.00 Life Dashboard/MOC
  • 10.01 Goals
  • 10.02 Habits
  • 10.03 Relationships
  • 10.04 Finances
  • 10.05 Health
  • 10.06 Spirituality
  • 10.07 Personal Growth
  • 10.08 Hobbies
  • 10.09 Miscellaneous
  • 11.00 Daily Notes (Use for Obsidian Daily Notes plugin)
    • 11.01 2024

20 Work

  • 20.00 Work Dashboard/MOC
  • 20.01 Career
  • 20.02 Skills
  • 20.03 Projects
  • 20.04 Meetings
  • 20.05 Processes
  • 20.06 Research
  • 20.07 Learning
  • 20.08 Industry
  • 20.09 Networking

30 Knowledge

  • 30.00 Knowledge Dashboard/MOC
  • 30.01 Books
  • 30.02 Articles
  • 30.03 Courses
  • 30.04 Podcasts
  • 30.05 Videos
  • 30.07 Ideas
  • 30.08 Concepts
  • 30.09 Questions

40 Writing

  • 40.00 Writing Dashboard/MOC
  • 40.01 Blog Posts
  • 40.02 Essays
  • 40.03 Stories
  • 40.04 Scripts
  • 40.05 Speeches
  • 40.06 Poetry
  • 40.07 Journals
  • 40.08 Notes
  • 40.09 Drafts

50 Resources

  • 50.00 Resources Dashboard/MOC
  • 50.01 Templates
  • 50.02 Checklists
  • 50.03 Workflows
  • 50.04 Tools
  • 50.05 Utilities
  • 50.06 Plugins
  • 50.07 Shortcuts

60 Archive

  • 60.00 Archive Dashboard/MOC
  • 60.01 – 60.99 Archived Files

70 Learning

  • 71.00 Specific Course
  • 72.00 Other Courses
  • 73.00 Certifications
  • 74.00 Research/Dissertations
  • 75.00 Books/Reading
  • 76.00 Tutorials/Learning Resources
  • 77.00 Continuing Education
  • 78.00 Teaching Materials
  • 79.00 Academic/Student Life

80 Personal

  • 81.00 Interests/Hobbies
  • 82.00 Health/Fitness
  • 83.00 Relationships/Family
  • 84.00 Spirituality
  • 85.00 Goals/Self-Improvement
  • 86.00 Memories
  • 87.00 Finances
  • 88.00 Legal/Contracts
  • 89.00 Miscellaneous Personal

90 Digital Life

  • 91.00 Websites/Blogs
  • 92.00 Social Media
  • 93.00 Cloud Storage/Backups
  • 94.00 Email/Communication
  • 95.00 Passwords/Credentials
  • 96.00 Software/Apps
  • 97.00 Digital Art/Design
  • 98.00 Programming/Code
  • 99.00 Tech Tutorials/Resources

Remember, this is your starting point, your minimum viable product and not the finished index.


Whether you are struggling to keep your notes and ideas organised, or simply seeking a more effective way to manage your personal knowledge, the combination of the Johnny Decimal approach and the Obsidian note-taking app can be the game-changer you’ve been searching for.

By using the MVP approach to building your own personal Johnny Decimal index system, you will discover how to harness the power of PKM and completely change the way you acquire, process, and apply the wealth of information you encounter every day. You will experience a new found ability to unlock new levels of productivity, creativity, and intellectual growth, and take control of your digital life.



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