Can my org agenda files and notes live happily within org-roam?

I have several years of notes, tasks, logs, etc in ~/notes/org. I now also have nearly 1,000 files in ~/notes/roam and I’m considering mashing them both together.

This started when I was writing a new TODO in my giant file and I really wanted to include a link to my org-roam notes about the client (and of course also see a backlink later when visiting the client file).

My original thought when keeping them separate was that org-roam was to be for a sort of “Zettelkasten” and I didn’t want it cluttered up with quick notes, completed TODOs, etc. But who am I kidding, my Zettelkasten, if I’m being honest, is nothing more than a fancy word for “pile of all my notes”.

So, given the loose, non-academic approach to my org-roam database, I’m wondering what risks I might not be anticipating by moving my dozen or so org-mode agenda files into my org-roam database.

Sorry if this is all a bit vague. I’m just looking for a little help thinking through this.


Have you read Ahren’s book (which I highly recommend), or some of the blog posts over on; or even jethro’s blog posts about org-roam? It might help you think this through.

The risk is that you end up with a mess of notes without any coherence to them.

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Thanks bruce. Yes, I’ve read all of them, which may be how I ended up in this very dilemma :slight_smile:

I feel like I understand the risks, but was hoping for some anecdotal feedback around what has or hasn’t worked for others with org and org-roam in particular.

But yeah, the thought of ending up with a big mess of incoherent notes is what I worry about. I just don’t know yet if it will actually matter in real life.

I dumped everything into Roam for a couple of months and never felt like I was making a mess that wasn’t useful. In fact, the messiness that Roam tends to prefer seemed to enhance its usefulness for me. I later imported all of it into org-roam and it doesn’t feel the same. It’s clumsier somehow, so I worry about adding to the chaos by including my other org stuff.

I suppose I should just try it and see if the benefits of bidirectional links between tasks and concepts is worth the mess that combining everything may cause.

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I can’t speak from experience on this, but the only danger I see is that if you are like me, you might feel a mental obligation to treat all of the notes in the org-roam directory in the same way, even though your agenda notes serve a very different purpose and must be treated differently. For example, your agenda notes should not be atomic, probably shouldn’t be strongly influenced by back links, and could be potentially confusing if you do a network visualization of all of your ZK notes, since their links to notes reflect something very different than the typical inter-note links in aZK.

I’ve been thinking about this also.

Let’s pitch a scneario: maintaining a house. A person might collect various information about home maintenance and repair. A person also certainly has various tasks about repair on their house. There is a relationship between the tasks and the notes. I would find it useful to be able to see, “Oh hey, as I’m reading these notes about faucet repair for repairing the bathroom faucet, I see there’s also a task out there for the kitchen faucet” or some such.

Like OP, I’ve got a vast org-mode collection built up, including various tasks. I’m somewhat considering moving my and similar into my roam directory and see how it goes. The good news is that I tend to aggressively archive done tasks, so they wouldn’t pollute the graph forever - and the pollution that does occur is likely relevant, though non-specific (since the #+TITLE of a file with dozens of tasks isn’t super specific)

More generally, org-mode and org-roam seem to inhabit two separate ecosystems; different assumptions about tags, relevance of section headings, etc… but they seem tantalizingly close as well.


@jgoerzen curious if you ended up moving your tasks dot org (discourse is not allowing my to post “links” as a new user so I have to spell out dot org) and other agenda files into your roam directory? I’ve not tried org-roam yet, but am interested in trying it out for my use case.

Today, I have basically have three org files (todo, journal, and notes) that feed my agenda. Todo dot org is to capture random todos. Notes is for random notes. Journal is date tree (year heading, month subheading, day subheading) with a subheading under the day for each meeting I attend in my day. I work in the enterprise in management so I spend my entire day going from meeting to meeting.

The most critical aspect of this setup for me is that I am able to capture TODOs in my meeting notes and have them show up in my agenda. For me the absolute best thing about this setup is that I can click on any TODO in my agenda and it takes me immediately to my meeting minutes where the I can see the context from which it was captured. No other task management system I’ve used has allowed me to integrate my TODOs with my meeting notes.

What interested me in org-roam is the ability to help unify meeting notes across different meetings that are related to the same topic. If I’m dealing with a project at work, I’ll likely have numerous meetings with various parties and it would be nice to be able to create a roam note while taking minutes in a meeting that can then be referred to in future meeting notes. And, of course, then having a single place to go for that project and have back links to all conversations on the topic.

The challenge is that I must not lose the ability to capture TODOs in my journal dot org and thus have them appear in my agenda (as well as my todos dot org). But as I understand it, if I don’t move my agenda files into the roam directory I cannot link to my roam notes. And if I move my agenda files into the roam directory to make sure my TODOs appear in my agenda, I have to make make all files in roam directory known to agenda, which could get really slow as the number of notes increase (at least that is what I suspect).

So, I’m thinking of just setting my agenda-files variable to point explicitly to todos org file and my journal org file. This would then let me put them in the roam directory but not have agenda slow down processing all notes. The downside is that I must never put TODOs in my roam notes as they won’t show up in my agenda.

Anyways, curious how your experiment went. I know I’m not the normal roam use case, but I think it could add value even in my use case.


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