3 min read

Experiment: Trying Out Vanilla Obsidian (No Plugins or Custom Themes)


Date Started: 2022-08-15 Mon

When I first started using Obsidian, I almost immediately deactivated the restricted mode that prevents the installation of community plugins, and began playing and experimenting with some of the most popular plugins. I find I often do this when using a new productivity method, system, or app: I jump right to the customization and completely miss the base setup. This actually hinders my ability to be effective because I try to fill in the gaps of what’s missing before I even have a handle on what’s there in the first place.

In the case of Obsidian, I’ve decided to turn restricted mode back on, which deactivates all my plugins, and remove the community theme I had installed. I want to see what it’s like to run vanilla Obsidian to see if I even need all the fancy features the plugins were giving me. Already I like the look and feel of the base Obsidian theme, so I don’t think I’m going to return to using a community theme. I’m curious to see if I’ll miss any of the plugins I had installed after using the base setup for a week or two.

Update / Results

Date Updated / Finished: 2022-08-30 Tue

I’ve been using the base setup in Obsidian for two weeks now, and I find I’m not missing the extra plugins and custom theme at all. It turns out those plugins were not only unneeded, but also a distraction. I’ve been able to focus so much more on writing than I did before. I realized I was spending much more time tweaking the settings of plugins and getting everything just right rather than using the tool to write and explore ideas. I’ve made the decision to continue to use Obsidian in it’s base form. There are plenty of core settings to tweak and modify to satisfy my customization needs.

A few of the core plugins Obsidian comes with out of the box.
Use saved searches instead of Dataview plugin queries.
The code for a saved search.

This is a prime example of the fourth Key to Productivity, Simplification. I had complicated my Obsidian setup by adding all these extra plugins and settings, and by stripping them away, I’ve found myself more productive with my writing. There’s a danger when making something more flexible: flexibility brings complexity, which has the potential to decrease productivity. It’s a lesson I continue to learn over and over, which is why Simplification is important enough to be on the list of the Keys to Productivity.

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