Creating Areas, Categories and Things is Hard!

Sorry Johnny, I know you don’t like title-case.

A few days ago I came across Johnny.Decimal from a Reddit Thread about organizing Obsidian Notes. I read the website, bought the workbook and spent most of the week going through it.

I underestimated how challenging (and fun!) it would be. Areas may overlap and so do categories. Some things could be both categories and things. My current feeling is to make them things first and “promote” them to categories later.

At some point I had 7 areas. Then I created a “Personal” one and a “Home” one. This already created some ambiguity! Lots of Personal things are in my home. I’m sure I’ll figure it all out, but I wanted to share my excitement here.

This is a really wonderful system. I think I needed the Workbook in order to understand how important and effective the Index is. For the time being, I’ll share with you my current system.

I’ll sleep on it, perhaps go on a walk ;).

Lovely system JD, looking forward to implementing it in various aspects of my life!

You know I’ve never actually banned anyone from the forum…


Lucy just spotted your In Scope node there … and that red one I assume is Out Of Scope (title case yours).

I like that. Have you found yourself dragging things between those nodes? If that’s been helpful for you I might use that idea if I may?

Indeed the red one is Out Of Scope. I want to start using JD in 2 places.

  1. Private life
  2. Work

Currently, I have only 2 items out of scope: work, photos.

Work because I want to set up a different JD structure on my work computer.
Photos because they’re all stored in iCloud.

Initially I had “Family” there too. I saw your example videos and liked how you had friends and family, so I added that too.

To answer your question, dragging nodes has been VERY useful. Like you recommended I tried grouping by Area and by Category. I’m going to take my sweet sweet time because this structure is going to stay with me for the next 10 years.

Current structure (without areas/categories)

I kind of drop everything I can think of in there. I do find it a little difficult to make things “out of scope” other than work stuff.

The photo attached is currently my “base”. I have it saved as “v0 Jilles JD”. Then I copy a v1 and mess around with it. I’ll do this until I am happy. Then I write them in the generator you linked on the website (

One crucial thing I learned from the workbook / videos that wasn’t clear on the website (even though you specifically mention it), is how important the index is. For that, I really needed the workbook!

I’ll report back soon with my new(er) structures. I do plan on having this structure in Obsidian, the note-taking app.

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Wow – my feelings exactly, after a couple of weeks of “studying” JD :slight_smile:

A bit of an update:

I was trying to organize my entire life in Johnny Decimal. When the scope is “your entire life”, it is pretty hard to separate in-scope from out-of-scope. After all, it’s your in your life, how can it be out of scope for your life?

Therefore I have slightly adjusted the questions I ask myself:

  • Is this something I have notes of?
  • Is this something I realistically am going to take notes of?
  • Is this something I have digital assets that matter of?

These questions answer whether or not something will be in-scope or out-of-scope for you Johnny Decimal System.

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Don’t forget that the Workbook has you set up a single JD system for whatever you decide is in-scope.

You can set up another system later. So your first doesn’t have to – probably shouldn’t/can’t – contain your entire life.

For example, I have:

  • P01 my personal life. As documented here.
  • D01 – so the numbers you see in the navigation bar there.
  • D85 the Johnny.Decimal business. This is where the Workbook/Workshop etc. live.
  • L77 our Learn with Lucy Excel course.

And previously, now defunct, systems at various jobs.

START SIMPLE though. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and this is at the limit of my comprehension.

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I absolutely agree with adding a new system later if necessary.
I have separated my organisation a few months ago in two systems: One for all things administrative, and the other for the rest. I have recently split the latter in Crafts and the rest of it, because just like Administrative stuff, Craft does not have any link with the rest on my stuff !!! The only “craft” that stayed in my main vault (I’m also using Obsidian, 'cause I absolutely love it <3) is writing, because this has links to other things (RPG, Notes on reading, Tropes etc…).

Hope this helps :slight_smile:

Sleeping and walking work great for me, too, and time to let things sink in. But re-reading/skimming through Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug had the biggest impact for me. Especially Chapter 6 - Street signs and Breadcrumbs which is about designing navigation was helpful.

At the end of the day, you/we are designing our own navigation and the book title is the one thing I tried to always keep in mind while designing my JD system: Don’t Make Me Think

It worked well for me.

Thank Goodness For That.

Okay I need to start a Ccode of Cconduct.

  1. No title case.
  2. Be nice to everyone.