New user / index confusion/thoughts

Recently discovered J.D and have begun implementing for my needs. I had already structured in a way that made it fairly straightforward other than pulling back toward two folder levels. Areas structured as: Life, Library, Business, IT, and Research was sort of what I had already and the process of going through it all and refactoring was rewarding. I’m now trying to use the system and learn as I go. I’ve been puzzled by the implementation of the index which is the heart of the J.D. system control.

I had made all the folders in my filing system in iCloud so I could use it across devices. Even have Devonthink indexing the files so I can access however I choose if I want to look for unknown connections across folders.

Scanning the forum here, it seems there isn’t much consensus on how best to implement the index which is fine as it’s hard to do a one-size-fits-all. I like the simple/text approach discussed and toyed with the idea of a-note-per-index-item as mentioned in the material here as well as a single comprehensive note I began with in Obsidian. I’m still not confident though that I trust myself and the index to become and stay up to date, especially as I learn and grow while detangling and bringing order across apps etc.

Since I began by laying out a complete file structure that matches my mapping of Area.Category, and yes some are empty folders now I’ve created in anticipation of things I know will come, I’m mulling over another approach. Rather than using airtable, or Notes, or Obsidian with plug-ins, or an app, maybe this would be easier for me.

As I understand the J.D. system, the key is going to your index to see where to put stuff, or create a new category or ID if needed and keep it in your index, and maybe make some notes about where things are found, etc., as time goes on. An email comes in or I decided to create a reference drawing in Concepts on the iPad, I’ll want to organize them there in the app and keep track of them in the Index… but what if I let my file system BE my index? I’m going to have to establish the aforementioned habits of J.D anyway, what if I tweak it so the file system is my “Index”?

I can easily traverse and search my file system on whatever device I’m using. I can create a folder for anything I ever want to add that is new to the system whenever needed. It seems that just leaves two things I’ve seen referenced here: 1) the ability to make a note about what’s in a folder to yourself and 2) to make a note on the location of where something is located if it isn’t in your files (email, app, NAS, etc).

I can still use the J.D number/name within apps for a folder or file name to keep in sync with the J.D system, but what if I just make the rule for myself I need to put an output file from the app (PDF, etc) from mail or whatever app I use into the file system in the appropriate folder? I can also add information/comment to files and folders on the Mac through the ‘get info’ capability.

In this way, it would seem I’d only need to go to one spot (the file system) to find all the relevant material in the future. As I create stuff, I’d just update folders and files (and ‘info’ if needed) as I go. Seems to me this would be actually simpler than trying to keep up to date a separate Index file or set of files with another app. No learning curve or startup overhead etc. It’s just workflow.

I also have to share all of this with my wife on a number of these areas and am dreading the discussion about a separate ‘Index’!

I haven’t done the workbook yet so I’m probably missing something, but thought I’d suggest this to see what people with experience using the system think.

Appreciate any feedback!

Theoretically there’s nothing stopping your file system from being your index.

It just doesn’t sit right with me. I’m sure – utterly, totally convinced – that you will create a thing elsewhere and forget to create the associated file system entry.

You also lose any benefits that come from using some sort of a note. The most obvious being the power and the simplicity of the note itself.

Go for it and let us know how it worked out … but don’t say I didn’t tell you so. :wink:

Edit: my mate @alex might have something to add? Did you try this for a while?

Me again. I don’t see how this works practically. How do you handle the situation where the item is only ever stored elsewhere? What is the mechanism to tell yourself where it is?

The example in the workbook is a trip in good ol’ 16 Travel that only needs to exist in your email. How do you tell yourself via the file system folder that it’s in your email?

Do you mean you’ll drop an email in there?

I dunno man. I’m worried for you. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the feedback! I’m still thinking about it all and these are good thoughts you are sharing. By the way, I got a lot of value out of the approach of thinking about the two-level deep, projects, using the numbering system rather than titles, and synergizing/deconflicting everything.

This has brought a number of past experiences for me to think through and I can see the value of an index and particularly the ‘approach’ of J.D.

As to your travel example, I imagine I’d have a ‘18.23 Trip to Hawaii 24.07’ folder. Create it as soon as we decide we want to take a trip to Hawaii. Not only emails get exported and go there, but also maps, web articles on things to do/see, itinerary we create, etc. all goes there. My wife would probably do even more of the logistical, web searches, and planning than I would. I think she’d be fine with the single folder set up and ‘everything goes there’, but I’m not convinced yet I could get her to go to an index and note down the email, webpages, etc. I’m not sure I could even get her to use the J.D folder/org within email and safari.

I think when I get further along of processing through apps (email, other storage, other apps) I’ll try both ways in parallel for a bit (separate index along with file-structure ‘index’).


1 Like

By the way, just bought the Workbook and will go through it. Likely this will help make it clearer for me and my newbie thoughts on how to implement it.

1 Like

Consolidating toward a single file store (iCloud) has been proceeding well until a recent discovery. Good news items - I’ve gone through thousands of emails and have now saved only the ones I wanted to in various J.D folders - I’m now at the literal “inbox zero” state and it’s easy to keep up with that mindset of process on where to store. I’ve consolidated my tasks into one system with the J.D indexing that references those folders. Just cleaning up and reorganizing has been very helpful as well as deconflicting when I had things scattered or stored in one spot.

The first hiccup now is I’ve discovered that a limitation of the iOS iCloud system is that due to sandboxing an app can only link within it’s own iCloud folder space. This means that my plan for holding the files for an app in a common J.D. iCloud folder won’t work if I want to have links embedded. For instance I use iThoughts for mind mapping and hyperlink between maps which are different files. That will work fine in they are in the app iCloud folder but not if I store the maps in a generic J.D. iCloud folder. Which means… I have to replicate the J.D structure within the iThoughts iCloud folder for those files which breaks my rule of having one J.D. folder structure without the separate index…

I did not know that.

I also use the system-generated iCloud/[Name of application] folders. For me it’s so that I can invisibly edit a file on my Mac then go and edit the same file on the iPad. When that file is in the ‘special’ place, it Just Works®.

This is typically where I lean on having the JD number in the file name. Here’s my MindNode folder.

There is a bunch of mess above and below that isn’t in the screenshot. This isn’t perfect: but with the way Apple has designed things, I don’t see a way around it. You just have to choose:

  1. Let Apple manage it, and deal with finding things your own way (i.e. numbers-in-filenames).
  2. Manage it yourself, and lose some of the nice stuff (i.e. invisibly editing on iPad).

@Alex here. I often use the “Create a Folder” method when I’m just starting with a new system, usually at work with a new client, and don’t have a convenient tool/place for record an index. I’ve not run into any issues with duplication of numbers, but you do end up with some empty folders which can either be annoying, or it can be seen as a shorthand for “There is stuff elsewhere, probably email, go find it.”

It’s not the ideal system, but it does work.

1 Like

As a follow-up, going through the workbook I now realize the central/important role of the Index. It’s really at the heart of your system and makes a lot more sense to me now. I’ve had a number of ‘aha’ moments going through the process. It’s taken longer than anticipated but well worth it because it’s made me think of how to integrate some special cases of things I’m wanting to do now.

Relative to the index specifically since that’s what started this thread, I now realize the role it’s playing. One of my Areas I defined was already called ‘Library’ since it’s a central repository of reference information (research papers primarily). That ‘aha’ moment was to realize the J.D Index is analogous to a ‘Card Catalog’ for a Library. Simply the fact it can indicate where something is located (even if not within the file system) helped me realize the importance that I was missing. Card Catalogs do the same thing when they refer to special archives, etc. for instance. The Area.Category.ID number I’ve begun to refer as a “Call Number” for no other reason other than it appeals to me from the library analogue.

This is all very interesting in the context of the what is a project? discussion happening in another thread.

We land on the index/library analogy there, though I’m not sure it’s going to stick just because the language ends up being a little clumsy.

Love this.