How to take networking notes

This topic is to discuss the following lesson:

Hi Rene,
You have mentioned the following:

"What should you take notes of as a network engineer?

  1. Explanation of theory.
  2. Configuration and code snippets.
  3. Show and debug commands."

Can you please provide an example on how to take a note of “Configuration and code snippets” AND “Show and debug commands.”?

I am basically looking for a complete note so I can follow it as an example or template. Please help me out with this. I believe that this technique of taking notes will be very helpful for me since my journey with my goal might takes a few years.

It would be nice also to show how to create a lab in a way that if I want to perform this lab after like a year or so it would be straight forward.

Your help is this matter is extremely appreciate it. Thanks

Hello @Eyad ,

Of course, take a look at my repository:

You should clone this repository and open it in Obsidian. You can read the contents of the notes in Gitlab online but it won’t parse any links.

Here are two notes that contain configuration/show commands:

These two notes only cover 1 topic, this way you can easily re-use them in other notes. For example, I added links to these notes in my VLAN overview note:

Here’s an example of how I would create a note on a lab:

Basically, I would add the commands that show how to quickly configure something with links to other notes for more background information. If you do a new lab, that means you create 1 note for the lab and you create multiple notes for the different things you configure. Those notes are “atomic”. They only explain the command(s) but are not tied to a specific lab or scenario.

Does this help?


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Yes. This was very helpful.

  1. Can you please provide one more example of a “Debug” note?
  2. My goal is to build a CCIE Obsidian and become a CCIE. Which way you think is more powerful/effective?

A. Start documenting/studying from CCNA (books, video, lab…etc.) → CCNP (books, video, lab…etc.) → CCIE (books, video, lab…etc.). By doing this way, I will have three major “Obsidian” section, but I will NOT miss any topic and I will have a very good information/knowledge.

B. Or, go strait to CCIE (books, video, lab…etc.), and document all the related topics? By doing it this way I will end up with one major “Obsidian” section that matches the CCIE blue print.

Please provide some guidance to the best way to a accomplish this. This “Obsidian” technique will be very helpful for me since I have an extremely busy daily schedule (7 days a week), but I can dedicate one hour/day (Monday thru Friday), and 2 hours on Sat. and Sun. The total is 9 hours per week.

If I split the schedule into two parts: The first part is studying a new material during the week (1H/day… the total is 5 hours a week), while the second part is reviewing what I have learned from A-Z on Saturday (2hours) and on Sunday (2hours). As the number of learned topic increases every day, how can I review ALL the info within 2 hours on Saturday and 2 hours on Sunday? In other words, how can I review all the switching topics for example (SPT, RSTP, MSTP, Trunk, VLAN, etherchannel, Port security, Inter VLAN…etc.) and routing topics (EIGRP, OBGP, BGP, ACL, Multicast, QOS, …etc.) within two hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday?

Please think about it and take your time before you respond because your guidance will determine my successful plan/approach. So far, I failed all my plans and I cannot figure out the best way to accomplish this. It would be nice if you can setup a schedule based on 1hour/day and 2hours/Saturday and 2hours/Sunday to accomplish this. Please help me out on this matter and Thanks a millions for your help!


I added a debug example (202104241342 debug spanning-tree bpdu). It’s similar to how I would add a config example. Add the command(s), and explain what the output does.

If you want to do CCIE, I would go through the CCNA and CCNP ENCOR/ENARSI material first. Everything from CCNA and ENCOR/ENARSI is in CCIE, so it’s not like skipping them is helpful. You could skip the exams, but I would go through the material.

The advantage of note-taking like this is that you can always make some progress. Even if you only have an hour, you could study something and create some notes out of it.

If you want to study for CCIE, I would focus first on going through all the material. In a nutshell, here’s how to beat the lab:

  1. You work your way through all the topics one by one. First all L2 topics (VLANs, trunks, STP, etc.) and then all L3 topics (IP routing, OSPF, EIGRP, BGP, etc.) and all other remaining topics.

  2. You do “full” configuration and troubleshooting labs until you are ready for the lab.

1 + 2 take about ~1000 hours in total once you are at the CCNP level.

If you are limited in time, you can do #1 but it will just take a longer time to work your way through it. That’s OK. If you can study full-time, it might take 3 months. If you are limited in time, it takes > 12 months. You can work your way through all of the material though. During phase 1, reviewing older topics isn’t very helpful because it’s just too much. The problem is that you will remain stuck in phase 1 if you try to review everything.

Once you start with #2, that’s when you automatically repeat/review all topics you have seen before because these labs cover everything that you have seen in #1. You’ll also figure out your knowledge gaps…that’s when you jump back to reviewing some of your notes and do some labs on your own.

#2 is time-consuming…in the real exam, you have 8 hours to complete the lab so before you are at this level, you have had a LOT of practice labs at home. Ideally, you want an entire day for a practice lab so you know what it’s like to lab for > 8 hours straight. You’ll need time off from work and other obligations if you want to pull this off.

Back when I did my CCIE in 2013, the last 3 weeks before the exams I labbed from 10:00 until 22:00 every day except some Saturdays and Sundays. That’s crazy, but that’s how everything became “muscle memory” and I passed it on my first attempt.

Does this help? :slight_smile:



Hi Rene, sorry, but I just got the time to see your respond.
I’ll go ahead and give it a shot after a long frustration with my plans. It looks this technique is the one that will work for me :slight_smile:

Just to confirm my understanding that I need to complete step 1 first, and then complete step 2? Or I need to go thru step 1 and while I am studying for example STP, I need to build a lab as a step 2 but perform it ONLY after I completed the entire step 1 topics?

In other words, when you said in 4.2 Linking section “By linking your notes, you build a cluster of knowledge. You might study CCNA today but when you want to study CCNP in the future, you can check your existing notes and see how much knowledge you already have collected.” … How about if I need to add more notes as I am studying now for CCNP? Do I add the new note to the existing Obsidian under CCNA or I need to create a new Obsidian called “CCNP” and create the note under it?

Also, you want me to go through the CCNA and CCNP ENCOR/ENARSI material which is okay with me, however, am I going to end up with ONE main name of the Obsidian (i.e. CCIE), our it would be better to create two separate Obsidians (i.e. CCNA, CCNP)? I think it would be only one that has ALL the topics, but please confirm that?

Note: I am going to update my payment info since I got my new card and my subscription expires tomorrow. You were very helpful. Thanks!

Hello @Eyad ,

Once you prepare for CCIE, you start with step 1 (one topic at a time) and work your way through all of them. When you complete this, you move on with step 2 (doing full labs).

In Obsidian, I created a single folder (which Obsidian calls a Vault) that contains all of my notes. This includes everything…notes on networking, productivity, writing, even some journaling. I add structure by creating new “index” notes that link to existing notes. By doing this, you can let go of the “categorizing”.

If you want to give this a try, just start taking notes and see how it goes. Don’t overthink this…write some notes and you can always rename things, split large notes up into smaller notes, etc.


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Hi Rene…Sure, I will give it a try. Thanks a millions for your help!

Hi Rene

since your lessons are concise and straight to the point as opposed to textbook/study guides, can one also say that ‘’ I use to quickly check something to refresh my memory’’ ?

Hi Walter,

Sure, you can do that for a lot of topics. Sometimes however, you might run into something that I don’t cover :slight_smile: I use this method of note keeping for many things now. For example, last week I had to upgrade my AWS EKS Kubernetes cluster. I created a note that described the steps I had to take with links to other notes that explain the different bits and pieces.

I also use it for non-IT things. For example, green shake recipes that link to separate notes with ingredients, etc. :grin:



I am wondering how long it should take a beginner to finish the encore over here.
And how much to finish per day.
CBT nuggets for example recommend to finish one skill per day.

Hello Yousef

That’s a difficult question to answer. It really depends upon the amount of time you have on your hands and the pace at which you learn. The guideline of learning a single skill per day is good, but how do you define a “single skill”? Would you consider learning how to configure an IP address on an interface a single skill? How about learning STP? It’s not that easy…

I would suggest you start by deciding how much time per day or per week you will spend on studying. Spend that time going through the lessons and implementing the topologies. The ENCOR course has over 200 lessons. If you’re starting from scratch, it could take you anywhere from several months to close to a year to go through that content thoroughly, depending upon how many hours you commit to studying per week… If you’re studying full-time, it would take less of course. However, this is only a very rough guideline. People learn at different rates and in different ways. And you may not need to go through all the lessons. Other lessons may take 30 minutes to go through while others may take 3 hours.

I know I’m not clearly answering your question because there is no clear answer. I suggest you commit several hours of study time per week and begin going through the lessons. A couple of weeks in, you should get a feel for the rate at which you will be proceeding, and how long it will end up taking you to go through all the content.

I hope this has been helpful!



Great tips!
What I’ll do is create a section in OneNote for each book that I’m studying (“New Section”), and a new page for each chapter of the book (“New Page”), and then sub-pages within the chapter (“Make Subpage”), along with tags within the chapters. Most of my knowledge is going to come from a couple of books for each cert I’m studying, so it sounds logical on paper to dedicate my notes this way to the book as I’m studying it. When I’m expanding on a given chapter within a book, I’ll leave a note in the given chapter anyway, so things are hopefully going to be well-organized. I’ll make tags for configs, difficult concepts, things to memorize (such as default timers), and topics (such as specific routing protocols, etc). The chapters should give a good basic structure, which I can then expand with the tags.

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I just found out about and was wondering with which software this was made with? WordPress?

I’m currently looking for the same thing to build my own little kb with things learned from my daily work as well as the study for the CCNP and future CCIE

Many thanks

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Hello Mike

Obsidian is used to create the NetworkLessons notes database. You can find out more about it here:

Obsidian is an app that interconnects notes so that you can create a local database with linked entries. However, you can then “push” your linked database online. We do it using Git, but Obsidian has a built-in feature where you can publish the database to be hosted by obsidian for a small fee.

Try it out and let us know what you think!

I hope this has been helpful!


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