For years I have been asking myself the question of organizing my personal files adapted to my use.
I changed the way I stored or archived my files and organize my notes / informations several times for years.
In 2007 my discovery of the book ‘Information architecture for the World Wide Web’ by Peter Morville was a revelation.
I understood lots of principles like Controlled Vocabularies, Metadata, Hierarchy of information, Organization systems, Findability …
I was particularly marked by a numerical approach such as the Dewey Decimal System and I tried to develop my structure in this direction.
First try with the help of the Johnny Decimal website
Continuing my research on the subject of personal knowledge and files management, I came across the Johnny Decimal site and became an early adopter instantly.
I was immediately attracted to the system which led me to completely review my file organization very quickly.
It was very efficient and usable. But with time, according to my own approach of wanting to personalize, I very quickly encountered errors which became limits:
- Directory levels too deep (4-5)
- A and C too wide or too small
- Holes in the continuity of AC.ID
- Empty directories to reflect my index
- A unique index file generate by tree command that requires me to open it regularly
It was not so good as expected …
I duplicated my structure in my other tools (emails, reminders, favorites, RSS feeds, Instapaper, Podcasts, Youtube ebooks, passwords, etc.) and even organized the file system of my professional team to facilitate collaboration.
I also applied the structure in the physical world (organizing my papers, labeling archive boxes, etc.)
It took me a lot of time ton and blocked me from evolving my system because I had to postpone each modification to my file system, index file, apps …
Second and, spoiler, final try with the Johnny.Decimal Workbook
When the workbook came out, I bought it directly to support JD and then maybe one day review my system, taking the time for fixing the imperfections.
Some time ago following the last update (October 2023) I started reading the workbook and that triggered my desire to review everything and reboot all my system.
For this I scrupulously followed the method, advice and good practices in the book.
And then I really understood the power of the index.
I went from organizing files to an indexing system for all of my content in a centralized, robust and simple way (my files of course, my notes, my links, podcasts, etc.). All pieces of informations and bytes. Of course I integrated the use of metadata to manage contexts (eg on my disks, cloud, etc.)
My entire central system is now maintained in Apple Notes with directories by AC and note by ID. It is only defined an maintained here.
- I do not reflect the model in too many other tools.
- Exception for emails, reminders, paper storage (I use AC tags to categorize)
- If I have to keep something new I complete note or create a new one.
The result, I didn’t expect
- Confidence and consistency in my system.
- All errors and limitations have disappeared
- My distribution between A and C and ID is coherent and balanced.
- Clarity and vision
- It is perfectly suited to me and reflects what is important to me in my life.
- My system is now so simple and robust, it uses a single basic Apple Note tool and the Index system.
- It is synchronized between all my devices
- It uses the sharing facility from other applications.
- Speed for finding information, no more uncertainties
- It is even more efficient with my use of Raycast
- Facility to add new information or update it
- I use a central and decentralized system
- I no longer use my index in other applications or content, I share to my index in Apple Notes
Finally the feeling of completion to have a system that suits me perfectly.
My conclusion for this post may be too long
I was already a fan of information architecture, Johnny’s site gave me a lot to apply it to my personal organization but it was especially his workbook that took me into another dimension.
It took me 30 hours to take everything back, set it up and transfer everything, they are among the best spent 30 hours of my life.
I can only advise you to purchase the Johnny.Decimal Workbook, to read it carefully, to take the time and to respect its approach.
You won’t regret it, I’ve experienced it.
Thank you for reading me and above all thank you to Johnny, I owe you a lot.
Your work has a daily effect on my every day life.
Written in my 10-19 Personal / 12 Organization / 12.01 JD Index