First draft of my JD structure - would love some feedback

Hello! I stumbled across the JD system while I was trying to improve my creative workflow. That got me down the rabbit hole of note taking and Obsidian, and this article (Eleanor Konik on Folders and Tags ) which nudged me towards getting my notes and files organized.

But I also have a ton of documents from the past, oh, 25 years that are in a system that’s increasingly brittle. So I’ve been digging into the JD system even more for that.

My goal is to have one system to rule them all, so have been working on it for several days now and I think I have something that just might work. My conundrum is having one system that lives inside and outside Obsidian.

I’d love some feedback from the folks here to see if I’m repeating some ‘bad’ practices. :slight_smile:

What’s it for?

  • One filing system for all my electronic documents.
  • Top priority is supporting a workflow where I capture thoughts and ideas and wrestle them into content that supports my various projects.
  • Secondary priority is to have the same system provide a place for all my other ‘stuff’, from podcast episodes I create to programming projects to personal documents and media.

What am I organizing?

  • I’m building out my notes / creative writing in Obsidian.
  • I’ve also got a large file system in OneDrive, for my work projects including a podcast, several online communities, consulting and coaching clients, etc. etc. Lots of audio and video files in there.
  • personal media files (photos, videos, music) are on an external NAS.

First draft

OK, this is really like my fourth draft, but it’s the first one I’m sharing. I’m going with a three digit ‘project’ number at the start.

000 - overall Meta (Notes about this system, etc.)

100 - Personal
this would be a Area/Catalogue structure that fits my personal stuff, like the kids, hobbies, etc. etc

  • 00 - 09 Meta
  • 10 - 19
  • 90 - 99 Media
    ** 91 - Photos
    ** 92 - Music
    ** 93 - Videos

200 - The Creative Engine
A different A/C Structure to drive my creative work. This structure leans on Eleanor Konik’s organization structure. 99% of these documents will be in my Obsidian vault.

  • 00 - 09 Meta
  • 10 - 19 Indexes
  • 20 - 29 Entities
  • 30 - 39 Reference
  • 40 - 49 Information / ideas
  • 50 - 59 Products
  • 60 - 69 Journals (_my daily / weekly journals)
  • 70 - 79 Trackers and Logs

300 - Projects
_ numbers increment as new projects are added._
I expect having some different A/C structure depending on the project project. A project that is a business will be different than a website, for example.

301 - Mark Dyck Community Projects (my consulting business)
302 - Orange Boot Bakery (my former retail bakery, but I use lots of the old files.)
303 - Rise Up Podcast

  • 00 -09 Meta
  • 10 - 19 Admin
  • 20 - 29 Components / Templates
  • 30 - 39 Episodes one subfolder per episode (170 episodes and still growing)
  • 40 - 49 Finance
  • 50 - 59 Marketing

304 - (an online community I founded)
305 - Consulting client A
306 - Web development project A
307 - consulting client B
308 - website

Nagging doubts

  • Will having a different Area/Category structure for different types of projects make it impossible to remember where anything is?

  • What do I do with projects that are complete / dead? I see my project list growing but only having 10-12 active at a time. Will my file system be full of deadwood, or do you ‘pull’ the files into some sort of Archive folder?

(I see mention of Archives in the docs. I could create a ‘900 - Archives’ area and pull the project folders into it as needed. It’ll be weird having a “300” project in a 900 level folder but it’ll work, I guess.)

What do you think?

Hmm…I started implementing and found a way to make it about 90% simpler. Will circle back after a couple weeks… :slight_smile:

I guess you already gave yourself the best advise: Try it out! :wink:

From my own (no doubt meandering!) experience I can say:

Don’t over-engineer it – start small. You probably won’t find your J.D setup at the first attempt.

You’re planing for a lot of room there. The Meta categories alone for example – do you really have so much “meta stuff“ for each project? I mean, in theory this resolves to:

  • 300 - Projects
    • 303 - Rise Up Podcast
      • 00-09 Meta
        • 01 Meta things
          • 303.01.01 Some Meta detail
          • 303.01.02 Another Meta detail
          • 303.01.99 So much stuff!
        • 02 More Meta
          • 303.02.01 Some Meta detail
          • 303.02.02 …

etc. pp.

Don’t get me wrong, you may of course very well need this – only you can tell. :slightly_smiling_face:

As someone who recently downsized his J.D setup, though, I can only stress that, again in my experience, less is more.

I was and still am using a “classical” AC.ID implementation, but went down from 7 areas to just 4. This works much better and feels much more orangic because before I had too many things that might have gone either into one area or another. The division was just too artificially fine-grained. And that in turn kept stressing me out instead of helping me.

(I have to admit to cheating a little bit when it come to my files, though, as I’m moving a lot of older work-related files to an archive folder on my personal CIFS share at work instead of integrating them in the new J.D structure, at least for now; but there is so much old stuff I’m very probably never going to need again that it’d seem like an awful waste of time to try and integrate everything up-front.)

As for your “deadwood question“: If I created IDs for things that really did not pan out at all (and thus didn’t not actually produce any substantial notes and/or files) I’m not shy about repurposing the IDs. If you follow the advise of @johnnydecimal to keep a central index that should fairly straight-forward. But stuff that’s simply completed, I guess, I’ll leave it where it is for now; AFAIR that’s Johnny’s suggestion, too.

1 Like

Thanks Christian @bogenschlag

I hear you about the roominess of my draft. I keep forgetting that the ID half of the number refers to folders, not files!

And I don’t have that much Meta :slight_smile: I was only sticking to the guideline about holding folders starting with zero in reserve. But that’s a lot of folders!

I decided, for now, to focus on my files in Obsidian (aka, my ‘creative engine’, because it’s more important that I write than organize my writing, if that makes sense.

Today’s version looks like this:

00 Meta

  • 00.11 Systems (my writing process, JD docs, etc.)
  • 00.12 Templates (Obsidian note templates)

10-19 Documents

  • 11 Indexes and Content Maps

  • 12 Sources

    • 12.01 - altMBA Prompts
    • 12.02 - another set of course materials, etc.
  • 15 Slipbox (my notes)

30-39 Writing

  • 31 Blog Posts
  • 32 Newsletters (subfolders by newsletter)
  • 33 Articles (subfolders by publication)
  • 34 Daily Notes
  • 35 Journal Entries
  • 36 Rise Up Podcast
    • 36.000 Podcast Meta
    • 36.170 Laura elbe Brannan (my latest episode)
    • 36.171 Bakery Systems (the episode I’m working on now)
    • 36.172 a future episode

What I notice is that many of my AC level folders (11, 15, 34, 35) contain documents and not sub-folders. I’m OK with that for now.

The way I see it, when I get 50-100 documents in there, I’ll decide whether it makes sense to split them into groups. And if so, I have can use the :ID numbers to make the splits.

The other thing I notice is that I likely don’t need high level project numbers on this at all. Again, with the :ID being folders and not files, there’s lots and lots of room in there.

Mark, a couple of thoughts/comments: (all are my opinion, should be taken with a large grain of salt.)

-re your first draft: 00 area is about your schema, not storage so 90-99 should be elsewhere.
-the key is "a place for everything, everything has a [single] place.
-since your podcast is an important part of your life, I think that particular “project” should be 300 and move everything else down.

comments on 2nd draft:

  • Better!
  • 30-39 seems to a)overlap with 10-19. consider folding 10-19 into 30-39. Now organizing serious writing is a whole nother topic: I speak from experience having written 3 published books. The key there is subspecialization . Always use “01” for outlines, “02” for brainstorms, “03” for first drafts, “09” for revised second drafts and so on. So establish a type that is separate and apart from all else.
  • You might want to consider the Building a Second Brain methodology from Tiago Forte Tiago is a true thougthtleader, and his recommendations (available now mostly as youtube videos) are groundbreaking. I would put him in the same class as David Allen and what Allen did for productivity, Tiago is doing for PKM. Recommended.

Hoep this helps,


What do I do with projects that are complete / dead?

Just like #00 acts as “meta” for the level, I also reserve the last node in each level for “archive” so I can clean things up as they die. So for instance #399 would be the graveyard for anything in 3xx, and #404.99 is the graveyard for dead things inside #404. You get the idea.

You could also dedicate the last meta level for graveyard, e.g. #309 would be the graveyard for anything in 3xx, and #404.09 is the graveyard for dead things inside #404. It’s the same as before, just inside meta instead. I prefer the former because “dead” is not “meta”.