PARA. Areas and Resources? Seperate Johnny.Decimal projects?


I thought I build a nice JD system combined with PARA from Tiago Forte:

  • Projects, in PARA terms this is everything with a due date and more than one task. So it doesn’t correspond with JD projects.
  • Areas
  • Resources
  • Archive (not of interest for my question)

I separate Work and Private. Though I use the same software for both, so in JD terms, these aren’t two Domains, but two projects. I call them D5 and D1 respectively.

I made JD AreaCategorie numbers for both Work and Private.
These correspond with the Projects and Areas in the PARA system.

But. I also have a lot of things that just interest me. These are most like the Resources in PARA. I decided to give my interests their own JD numbers. So I actually have three JD projects:

  • D1, private live
  • D5, working live at current company
  • S, subjects/sources I am interested in

Now I created a friction point I didn’t yet figure out. The problem is, I think, that my Subjects project is not separated enough from either my Private Live or my Working live. Maybe you can help my thinking.

I will try to explain with an example.

I’m figuring out how to use Large Language Models to my employers advantage and my own. Both by using programming using Python and by using ready made tools.

So. I already decided that if something can fit in both my Private and my Work life, I add it to my private live. But I can’t figure out what to do if something fits in with my Private life and my Subjects (interests).

So where should I place, all articles, courses, home brew notes and python code?

D1 - Private live
----50-59 Health and productivity
--------54 Personal Knowledge Management
------------54.02 Usage of Large Language Models


S - Subjects
----60-69 Natural and formal sciences
--------62 Statistics and AI
------------62.01 Large Language Models

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking I should probably blend my S project into D1 and D5. Leaving only Private and Work live. That would kind of mess up the PARA system though. Which I like, because it separates things I have to do or maintain because of current commitments from things I want to know because I’m just curious or because I want to invest in the possibility of other commitments.

Does anyone struggle with implementing PARA an JD at the same time. Especially with being able to distinguish between Resources and Areas without keeping the lines between the categories distinct.

Any ideas will be appreciated.



I don’t think you should try to combine PARA and JD, for exactly this reason. :slight_smile:

They’re different ideas with a fundamentally different structure. What Tiago splits at his top level - the PARA in PARA - I distribute throughout the system.

  • Projects: as you’ve identified, sometimes our terms line up here but sometimes they don’t. There are many things that he might call a Project that for me are just an ID.
  • Areas: he’s got his at the top level, mine are the first level.
  • Resources: are just ‘a thing’ in JD world, distributed throughout your system and therefore organised by Category.
  • Archive: similarly. I just let things stay where they are once they’re past their useful life.

Honestly I’ve never seen the appeal of PARA. It doesn’t seem to … do much? :man_shrugging:

I have tried to implement PARA into my personal file-structure, but it did not work for me either. I think it could work really nice in some cases, like managing a YouTube channel maybe? Every video is a project, all important stuff are areas and assets resources?

I really like this post regarding the ‘perfect’ system:
PSA : We’re not all ‘Productivity’ content creators (
And I think JD does not try and do this… It is just organising what you are already doing.

Maybe it would be cool (for on the long-list :wink: ) to have a thread or website ID to this topic. Why JD is different from things like PARA or Zettelkasten. And if you should or should not try and combine them.

Thanks @johnnydecimal and @fjgenieter for your reply and the link. It’s not a clear cut sollution for what I was trying to accomplish. But it did convince me to drop trying to combine it. So problem solved anyway.

For me the strength of PARA is that it has different levels of actionability. Or more to the point (for me). Everything in P needs my attention first, then everything in A, then in R and the last A I can neglect.

But I don’t like moving files around and also, what I need to work, is actually kept in my Calendar and Todo app. And the PARA categories were collecting subfolders in such a fast pace that I needed extra structure, which I was looking for by using the JD-system. Learned from this post: Cataloging, Classification, Information Science, PKMs and YOU!

But combining, doesn’t really workout, for me. So. I will drop the PARA system and merge Areas and Resources.

Using more of the JD-system will also strenghten my opinion that it was a good decision to buy the JohnnyDecimal book. :wink:

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This and this! No moving and other apps keep my to-do’s.

PARA, in my mind, is for people who either don’t use Johnny.Decimal, or who haven’t yet completed their J.D system. I’m in the latter category. I really appreciate PARA for giving me somewhere to put things without brain strain while I’m getting myself figured out.

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Ahh, as an in-between! Nice.
Added this to the megathread.

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