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Research workflow - OneNote, Notion, Obsidian, etc.


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I feel like my research work flow is antiquated and inefficient. I am curious to know how others organize their process and hopefully will be able to use these learnings to modernize my process.

 

Currently, I mostly use word/excel to manage my research. I have a folder for every company with individual word docs for things like company notes, earnings call notes, investment thesis, etc. in addition to excel models. For PDFs, I copy them to GoodReader where I highlight/annotate and then email myself the annotated file (saved in folder) and highlights, which I copy to a word doc. I also have individual word docs for things like book quotes, investment quotes, weekly investment journal, quarterly commentary brainstorming, etc. Everything is there it is just hard to find stuff since it is not searchable.

 

I have dabbled with OneNote a bit, but haven't fully committed due to the learning curve. I also save article using Pocket to read later and highlight, but don't love it.

 

With the current tools out there like OneNote, EverNote, Notion, Roam, Obsidian, etc. it seems like there might be a much better way to manage the process and make it more searchable intuitive. I would love to hear how others use these products and/or point me to any videos or articles that you feel are helpful. Thanks!

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I used EverNote and played a bit with Obsidian. It really depends on the use case you are going with. EN is robust, been around for a while, and is built for 80% of the needs you'll have, especially what you described. It's very use friendly and web clipper is probably one of my favorite features. At minimum, your workflow will feel easier and it will be simpler to search through documents. I also like the API and sync functions (which I think Obsidian now has too).

 

Obsidian has a bit of learning curve, especially if you aren't coming from the coding world (i.e., if the .md in obsidian.md means nothing to you, you'll probably have some learning to do). They store files as markdowns so there are some advantages (e.g., you can link really easily and see spectacular connectivity of your data). 

 

After few months of dabbling with Obsidian, I resumed doing almost everything in Evernote. 

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Posted (edited)

Paging Liberty... he's been talking about Obsidian on his newsletter.  I've downloaded it but not got round to trying it out yet.

 

But thanks for highlighting this - I really need to update my work methods, and you've put some good ideas for me.

Edited by thowed
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I think my years-later recall is best doing printed documents with notes on paper but in practice have migrated to doing a split screen of Google Sheets (mostly plaintext notes with occasional screenshots) and a pdf (sumatraPDF on computer or foxitpdf on ipad) as it's really nice to be device agnostic and searchable.  I found doing all notes in Sheets better than a word doc as in practice I do more back of envelope jotting down of random ratios and adjustments to financials as they come to mind.  I set up a template with small formatting tweaks I like like using =isformula(a1:ac1044) conditional formatting to make anything that's a formula automatically colored differently.  Google Sheet is also nice for maintaining a watch list as the =googlefinance() function can pull some decent data and sheets can do basic web scraping.  Being searchable across all google drive files is nice and seeing the build up over time of a folder per ticker researched is pleasant in the same way as a a full bookshelf.

 

For equipment the 12.9 inch ipad pro with a bluetooth keyboard and the safari browser version of Google Sheets (app version is terrible!) works reasonably in split view, a 17 inch laptop with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a bluetooth numpad is more comfortable for long sessions but docking with a large 4k display is best.  BenQ's monitor light is nice for a dark desk.

 

When looking at SEC filings I'll pretty much always first run them through Draftable's free tool to highlight year-on-year additions to the text, makes it much faster to skim boilerplate language in annual reports and pick up on subtle wording tweaks.  You can download Draftable's output as a pdf with green highlights of everything that was added or do a neat side-by-side view of the deletions.

 

For general life organizing and synchronization I like Simplenote although I'll periodically download to backup

 

 

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Anyone have a link to Liberty's newsletter on this? 

 

I create a folder for each stock, and just stick everything in there. Not the most organized but I know it's all there. 

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I use the Apple Notes app with iCloud syncing between devices. The notes are almost always with me and I can read and update them from anywhere if I find new information.

 

The basic steps in the process I use are:

 

1. Create "Investing" folder in Notes app

2. Find an interesting stock...

3. Create a new note with title set to "ticker - company name"

4. Add tags below the title to make it easier to search and categorize, for example:

5. Research company...

6. Add notes, screenshots, links, etc.

 

When doing research, repeat steps 5 and 6.

 

=====

PSTH - Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, Ltd.

spac, ackman, hold-forever, shitco...

 

Thesis:

"Ackman knows a thing or two about investing, or does he?"

 

Bullet points go here:

- UMG is a unique asset.

- Cash alternative.

- Better to buy ODET and/or BOL?

 

Notes, screenshots of articles, links, etc. go here.

=====

 

Plus:

- Notes are always with me (in the same way the iPhone camera is always with me and the dslr is somewhere in a closet)

- Built-in search

- Can easily embed tables, screenshots, change formatting

- Can share notes with others

 

Minus:

 

- None that I can think of. Works for me.

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3 hours ago, formthirteen said:

I use the Apple Notes app with iCloud syncing between devices. The notes are almost always with me and I can read and update them from anywhere if I find new information.

 

The basic steps in the process I use are:

 

1. Create "Investing" folder in Notes app

2. Find an interesting stock...

3. Create a new note with title set to "ticker - company name"

4. Add tags below the title to make it easier to search and categorize, for example:

5. Research company...

6. Add notes, screenshots, links, etc.

 

When doing research, repeat steps 5 and 6.

 

=====

PSTH - Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, Ltd.

spac, ackman, hold-forever, shitco...

 

Thesis:

"Ackman knows a thing or two about investing, or does he?"

 

Bullet points go here:

- UMG is a unique asset.

- Cash alternative.

- Better to buy ODET and/or BOL?

 

Notes, screenshots of articles, links, etc. go here.

=====

 

Plus:

- Notes are always with me (in the same way the iPhone camera is always with me and the dslr is somewhere in a closet)

- Built-in search

- Can easily embed tables, screenshots, change formatting

- Can share notes with others

 

Minus:

 

- None that I can think of. Works for me.


Same…

 

I use Apple Notes extensively for numerous subjects. Allowing the insertion of images was a game changer for me. iCloud sync works amazingly well across the ecosphere.

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On 6/11/2021 at 1:38 PM, pricingpower said:

I think my years-later recall is best doing printed documents with notes on paper but in practice have migrated to doing a split screen of Google Sheets (mostly plaintext notes with occasional screenshots) and a pdf (sumatraPDF on computer or foxitpdf on ipad) as it's really nice to be device agnostic and searchable.  I found doing all notes in Sheets better than a word doc as in practice I do more back of envelope jotting down of random ratios and adjustments to financials as they come to mind.  I set up a template with small formatting tweaks I like like using =isformula(a1:ac1044) conditional formatting to make anything that's a formula automatically colored differently.  Google Sheet is also nice for maintaining a watch list as the =googlefinance() function can pull some decent data and sheets can do basic web scraping.  Being searchable across all google drive files is nice and seeing the build up over time of a folder per ticker researched is pleasant in the same way as a a full bookshelf.

 

For equipment the 12.9 inch ipad pro with a bluetooth keyboard and the safari browser version of Google Sheets (app version is terrible!) works reasonably in split view, a 17 inch laptop with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a bluetooth numpad is more comfortable for long sessions but docking with a large 4k display is best.  BenQ's monitor light is nice for a dark desk.

 

When looking at SEC filings I'll pretty much always first run them through Draftable's free tool to highlight year-on-year additions to the text, makes it much faster to skim boilerplate language in annual reports and pick up on subtle wording tweaks.  You can download Draftable's output as a pdf with green highlights of everything that was added or do a neat side-by-side view of the deletions.

 

For general life organizing and synchronization I like Simplenote although I'll periodically download to backup

 

 

 

Thanks for the draftable tip!

 

I really want to use Google sheets for all the reasons you've given, but Excel is just so far superior in all the little things like data formatting and entry that I gave up on Google and paid for Excel. Right now I have three excel files, "2021 A-L", "2021 M-Z", & "Dashboard Summary". First two files every idea gets it's own tab by ticker symbol, Dashboard Summary keeps a list of my currently active positions with estimated returns at current price.

 

I'd kill for a way to store individual spreadsheets along with free form notes, right now I keep one column super wide and paste in key notes and quotes from thier SEC filings in their tab, which leads to some awkward formatting when I also paste along side the notes financials and create FCF and tangible equity estimates. 

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10 hours ago, ValueArb said:

I'd kill for a way to store individual spreadsheets along with free form notes, right now I keep one column super wide and paste in key notes and quotes from thier SEC filings in their tab, which leads to some awkward formatting when I also paste along side the notes financials and create FCF and tangible equity estimates. 

 

You could try:

Insert > Text > Text Box

Drag the corner

 

Or:

Right-click a cell > New Note

 

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Little different approach ...

We simply download the monthly power points and save them as we would any other other file. Similarly, SEC .pdf docs are downloaded, highlighted as needed, and similarly saved. Word docs for 1 page earnings, peer metrics, risk mangement write-ups, etc. Excel for data extracters, and the heavy lift inclusive of VBA, macro's, etc. All pdf docs are searchable, and write-ups express the view/outlook at the time. Anything we do after that is just analytics. Open what we need, as we need it, with very little 'remembering' required.

 

Lot of 'housekeeping', so it forces portfolio concentration. If we're working too much, we have too many stocks in the portfolio.

 

SD

 

 

 

 

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