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How to Use Templates in Roam Research

6 min read

One way to be more efficient when using Roam is by using templates.

I’ve been using the template feature for the past month, and it is useful when I’m doing repetitive tasks.

Roam templates are little snippets what show up when you type a shortcut. You can put anything inside a template: to-do lists, timers, word counter, queries, and link to pages.

For example, you might have a list of essentials to pack for travelling. Whenever you travel, you need to check off each item. Instead of copying and pasting the checklist, you can type in a shortcut, and Roam will duplicate the list for you.

I use templates for things I often do, such as morning routines, book notes, and weekly reviews. It shaves off a few seconds, but considering how often I use them, that might be a lot of time. I used a text expansion app to achieve this before, but this feature is now a part of Roam.

How to use Roam templates

You can input your template on any page, but I like to type it a dedicated page for templates ([[Templates]]) as it's easier to track all my templates.

This is how a template will look like:

- Template Trigger #roam/templates
    - [[Template Title]]
        - Content of your template
        - Content of your template
        - Content of your template

The most important thing you need to type is #roam/templates.

The template trigger is the shortcut you type in to insert the template.

The template title is the first block that will be inserted when you type in the shortcut.

You don’t need to double bracket the template title and turn it into a page as I did here, but it makes tracking easier. Doing this creates a dedicated page for all the entries you made with this template so you can refer to it.

Let’s say you have a journaling prompt as a template. If you journal every day, you’ll use this prompt often inside your Daily Pages. More often than not, your Daily Pages will also have entries other than your journaling prompt such as your thoughts and ideas. Instead of going through your Daily Pages, you can go into the dedicated page and check your entries from there.

After creating the template, you can use it on any page. Simple type two semicolons (;;) and a fuzzy search will come up, like how typing double brackets will show up a drop-down menu for pages. Type in the template trigger, press enter, and Roam will duplicate the content of your template.

You can then fill in this template like you usually would.

Since you made the template title into a dedicated page, you might mix it up with other similarly titled pages. You might have a page about morning routines, and a dedicated page for your morning routines template. It’s easy to mix these two up when you’re searching for it.

I use a prefix like [[T: Morning Routine]], so I know it’s a shortcut to prevent this.

You also don’t need a template title. You just need the template trigger, the #roam/templates, and Roam will duplicate everything nested under this block.

This works just as well:

    - Template Trigger #roam/templates
        - Content of your template

Templates I Use

1. Weekly Review

I do a weekly review every Sunday to ensure I’m on top of every file, email and tasks I need to do. It’s an effective method to look back at what happened the past week and see if I forget about anything. Then, I plan for the next week.

Here are the things I check whenever I do a Weekly Review.

- [[T: Weekly Review]]
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Email
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Calendar
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Timeblock time for studying and writing
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Block these session with Focusmate
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Check Folders 
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Downloads
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Desktop
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Google Drive
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Process Notes 
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Notion
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Physical Notebook
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Bear
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Drafts App
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Process Todoist
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Empty your capture inbox
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Check all overdue tasks
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Review all projects and their next actions
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Add any new meta-data
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Review Waiting tasks
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Review Someday/Maybe List
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Review tasks that have been there for too long
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Finance Review
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Plus Minus Next Journalling
	- {{[[TODO]]}} Reflect on Habits I'm tracking
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Should you grow anyone of them?
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Any habits you are not doing?
	    - {{[[TODO]]}} Any habits you don’t feel like doing anymore?

2. Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower Matrix is a mental model for making day-to-day decisions. You categorise your tasks according to how important and urgent they are, and prioritize them in this order: important and urgent, important but non-urgent, unimportant but urgent, and unimportant and non-urgent.

You do need some CSS to make it look like four boxes, so here's a link to the instructions.

- #matrix {{kanban}}
    - [[Important]] + [[Urgent]]
    - [[Important]] + [[Not Urgent]]
    - [[Not Important]] + [[Urgent]]
    - [[Not Important]] + [[Not Urgent]]

3. Evergreen Notes

Taking evergreen notes is an executable strategy for writing. Evergreen notes are notes with my ideas and words, instead of highlights and annotations from books and articles. Since Roam is my second brain, most of my evergreen notes live in here. You can check these out in my digital garden.

- [[Evergreens]]
    - #[[ToCreate]]
    - Category:: 
    - Date:: 
    - Speculative Outline:: #[[ToWrite]]
    - Explanation::
    - Sources::
    - Questions to ask 
        - How is this relevant to my line of thoughts? 
        - What is not being meant/excluded here?
        - Can this be explained by something else?
        - Does it contradict, confirm, correct or add to what I already know?
        - How can I combine ideas to generate something news?
        - What questions are triggered by these new ideas?
        - Write it for someone else

4. Transient Notes

While evergreen notes are my ideas, Transient Notes are the notes I took while consuming books, articles, podcasts, videos and so on. I refer to these notes whenever I want a quick summary of the content I’ve read.

- [[Transient Notes]]
    - Author::
    - Date::
    - Category:: #[[ToProcess]] 
    - URL:: 
    - Highlights::
    - Summary::
    - Questions::

5. Daily Review

I do a Daily Review before I go to bed to reflect on the day and plan for the next day.

- [[T: Daily review]]
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Tick off Habit Tracker
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Look at today's **Calendar**
        - {{[[TODO]]}} Reschedule Tasks that didn't get done
        - {{[[TODO]]}} Reschedule appointments that didn't get done
        - ...or move them to todoist
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Look at **Todoist**
        - {{[[TODO]]}} Close open loops
        - {{[[TODO]]}} Assign each task in your inbox to a Project or an Area
        - {{[[TODO]]}} Reorder Projects by Importance
        - {{[[TODO]]}} Look through each Project and order actions by importance or critical path
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Plan the next day
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Take out trash
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Wash dishes
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Lay out clothes for tomorrow
    - What went well?
    - What didn't go so well?
    - What's next?
    - Anything on your mind?

6. Plus Minus Journaling

Coined by Anne-Laure Le Cunff, Plus Minus Journaling is a fast and straightforward method to reflect on how your week went and plan for the next.

- [[T: Plus Minus Next Journal]]
    - {{[[kanban]]}}
        - +
            - What worked
        - -
            - What didn't go so well
        - →
            - What you plan to do next

7. Morning Routine

Here’s a quick and straightforward morning routine I adapted from Tim Ferriss. It sets me up for a productive day.

- [[T: Morning Routine]]
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Make Bed
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Take 3 deep breaths
    - {{[[TODO]]}} 10 Pushups
    - {{[[TODO]]}} Drink water/tea/coffee
    - {{[[TODO]]}} 5 Minute Journal

8.  5 Minute Journal

5 Minute Journal is a quick journaling prompt that’s easy to stick with. You write 3 points in the morning prompt and write in the evening prompt before going to bed.

- [[T: 5 Minute Journal]]
    - Morning
        - I am grateful for
            - 1. 
            - 2. 
            - 3. 
        - What would make today great?
            - 1. 
            - 2. 
            - 3. 
        - Daily affirmations. I am...
            - 1. 
            - 2. 
            - 3. 
    - Evening
        - 3 amazing things that happened today...
            - 1. 
            - 2. 
            - 3. 
        - How could I have made today better?
            - 1. 
            - 2. 
            - 3.

9. Habit Tracker

I used to use a dedicated app to track habits, but these days I use Roam as it’s easier to follow what inputs I did for each habit. It looks long, but that’s because it’s hard to make tables in Roam. You can close the parent block, and it’ll show the entire table.

- [[T: Habit Tracker]]
    - {{[[table]]}}
        - Habits
            - Mon
                - Tues
                    - Wed
                        - Thurs
                            - Fri 
                                - Sat
                                    - Sun
        - [[Floss teeth]]
            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                        - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
        - [[Take Vitamins]]
            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                        - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
        - [[Read 20 pages]]
            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                        - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
        - [[Write]]
            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                        - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
        - [[Go for a workout]]
            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                    - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                        - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                            - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                - {{[[TODO]]}} 
                                    - {{[[TODO]]}}

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