PARA + JD + 3 digits

Like 10 times better I figured that 10 categories per major area just doesn’t quite sit right with my perspective on organizing my life. Previously to finding JD I had started something similar at the root level with 3 digits, and I’m in the process of remapping that all onto a JD/PARA hybrid method right now going into the next year fresh.

My guiding principles for organization

  1. Name documents / notes etc. with the name that should last for the lifetime of the file - this inherently means that every file generally is “yyyy-mm-dd meaningful title.ext” and does not contain categories etc. I’ve been doing this for years, it’s really useful. I don’t think I will ever label files with the JD number, as where a file is categorized is an attribute of the file rather than something inherent with the contents.
  2. Accept that organization for some things is different (e.g. jobs where I was a consultant generally lead to dated files and the month when I started at that project / client is generally a good enough way to find things).
  3. Cognitive load is real and there are benefits to archiving stuff that you don’t need or want to see daily. Hence Archive folders for moving stuff which is completely done forever (old relationships, projects, bills, etc.).

My Top level categories are:

.
├── 0 System
├── 1 Personal Life
├── 2 Hobbies
├── 3 Work
├── 4 Media
├── 5 Software
├── 8 Resources
└── 9 Archive

I’m thinking about possibly using the PARA project approach as category 1, and bumping everything down 1 in this scheme.

Underneath this lie the actual categories.

.
├── 0 System
│  ├── 000 Meta
│  ├── 001 Inbox
│  ├── 002 Notes
│  ├── 003 Todo
│  ├── 004 Someday
│  └── 099 Archive
├── 1 Personal Life
│  ├── 100 Admin
│  ├── 110 Projects
│  ├── 120 Health and Fitness
│  ├── 130 Home
│  ├── 140 People and Relationships
│  ├── 150 Travel
│  ├── 160 Finances
│  ├── 180 Legal
│  └── 199 Archive
├── 2 Hobbies
│  ├── 201 Code (folders: just named after the repo name - I may decimalize at some point, but may not)
│  ├── 202 ...
├── 3 Work
│  ├── 301 Career
│  ├── 310 Company 1 (folders: decimalized as this is my most recent job)
│  ├── 311 Company 2 (folders: "yyyy-mm project name" as this is how I previously organized these)
│  └── 312 Company 3 (folders: "yyyy-mm client name")
├── 4 Media
│  ├── 401 Music
│  ├── 402 Humor
│  ├── 403 Photos (folders: "yyyy/yyyy-mm-dd subject")
│  ├── 404 Synth stuff
│  ├── 405 Books
│  ├── 406 Video
│  ├── 407 Social Media
│  ├── 408 Screenshots
│  └── 490 Backup of some device
├── 5 Software
│  ├── 501 Software
│  ├── 502 Notes
│  ├── 503 Licenses
│  └── 504 Data
├── 8 Resources
│  ├── 801 Legal
│  ├── 802 Finances
│  ├── 803 Tech
│  ├── 804 Health
│  ├── 805 Places
│  ├── 806 Activities
│  └── 807 Music
└── 9 Archive

I think if end up doing consulting or engage in things which break out to projects again, I’ll lean towards something like:
321 My Consulting Company/01 Client X 2023-04/321.01.01 Some folder for Client X
Which is kinda inverted from the PRO.AC.ID approach.

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I think this is really interesting. It’s beautifully neat.

I wonder if I might steal the word ‘system’ from you, to replace my current ‘management & meta’? I think it’s clearer and probably makes more sense to most people. And it’s shorter! :smile:

What do others think, does 00-09 System make more sense? Then in each area I also reserve category A0 so I might end up with:

10-19 Personal life
   10 System          // where I'd have 'Management & Meta' today
   11 Bills
   12 Insurance
   ... etc.
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Go for it. :slight_smile:

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It’s always been “Systems” for me, too.
Some variation within that. Currently looking like…

I like some of the thinking here. Useful for me.

I have also tried using an inverted PRO.AC.ID, with more logical AC.ID.PRO.

#1 PARA integration

Can you clarify how you’re thinking of integrating PARA here? Sounds like you’re thinking “1” would be “Projects”?

I had been keeping project folders within area folders, with the project denotation above. Specifically, where the third number is a three-digit number, that’s a project.

But one thing is becoming clear to me - that degree of buried-ness in a hierarchy is not necessarily enough visibility for an active project. For all the faults I perceive in it, it’s Building A Second Brain that unlocked that for me. I am now thinking I should push active projects much higher up in the hierarchy.

I have also experimented with keeping them in “Projects” within my “02 Productivity” folder. I see Projects as one organising structure withina Productivity system. That is higher, numerically, but still hierarchically a little buried.

It’s fine in, say, Todoist or Notion, because you can star favourite projects/pages that are, like, pinned to the top. This lifts them up and out of the hierarchy, although they actually continue to live in their proper place.

There is a variant you could imagine (and, probably, PARA’s originator does) where the entirety of our JD trees is actually the content of Areas. Active projects get put in “Projects” until completion, whereupon they are moved to the appropriate Area folder.

#2 Why triple digits?

I don’t see, from your examples, what the double-digit system cannot accommodate.

What is it that you prefer?

Is it just that you prefer thinking in three digits? Maybe it’s that the greater number of folders afforded allows you to have a flatter structure, a less densely buried hierarchy, or… ?

I’m intrigued. The constraint of 10 + 10 seemed appealing, though it can be challenging.

#3 Fixed “X99 Archive”

I like that idea.

I have been using the “X9” placement for finance-related stuff about the corresponding area. I can now imagine that a triple-digit system could allow for multiple common in-area folder types, eg “X98 Finance”, “X99 Archive”.

In fact, I’ve kind of always thought an Area would naturally always have related Resources as well as Archives within them, rather than each of them living at the PARA top level.

Dare I say it, you could maybe even just do PRA (minus the A) within each area folder.

PARA is problematic, not least because of the spotty definition about what happens outside of the Projects folder. I think he’s saying, all completed projects go to Areas. This would make each Area an archive of projects by default. But your point about cognitive load from perennial visibility has loads of merit. Thanks for that.

I’m new to PARA - it seems like the idea of moving projects <-> area <-> resources <-> archive is pretty common. My thought was that my areas are broad (life, hobbies, work, etc.), so they can be 2-7 instead of a single 2. Areas with nested items.

But one thing is becoming clear to me - that degree of buried-ness in a hierarchy is not necessarily enough visibility for an active project. For all the faults I perceive in it, it’s Building A Second Brain that unlocked that for me. I am now thinking I should push active projects much higher up in the hierarchy.

Yup same :slight_smile:

There is a variant you could imagine (and, probably, PARA’s originator does) where the entirety of our JD trees is actually the content of Areas. Active projects get put in “Projects” until completion, whereupon they are moved to the appropriate Area folder.

This is pretty much where I get to with 2-7

I don’t see, from your examples, what the double-digit system cannot accommodate.

What is it that you prefer?

My areas are fairly broad and the categories underneath will have more than the amounts that work with 2 digits and I omitted a bunch of categories from the list above. I have more than 10 hobbies. I have / will work at more than 10 jobs over the timeline of this system. My life is somewhat complicated by things where an individual category will grow beyond 99 and need to be broken out. 160 Finances → 160 Finances, 161 Taxes is one where this is happening already because of multi-country taxation.

Is it just that you prefer thinking in three digits? Maybe it’s that the greater number of folders afforded allows you to have a flatter structure, a less densely buried hierarchy, or… ?

Yup - I do appreciate the less dense hierarchy. Realistically it doesn’t hugely matter as 101-109 still works just as well as 11-19 if I never hit more than 10 things in a category.

Dare I say it, you could maybe even just do PRA (minus the A) within each area folder.

That’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure how to map it onto my numbers though.

PARA is problematic, not least because of the spotty definition about what happens outside of the Projects folder. I think he’s saying, all completed projects go to Areas.

My understanding in brief is projects are things that have next steps, areas are things personal to you that are generally in a complete state, resources are less personal things that would be easy to share with others, archive is things which have no next step, but have to be kept for some reason or another. For Archives in the past I’ve often just prefixed files with z to indicate they should be deleted someday. I’m considering with this instead doing something like: 199.161.01 - Taxes 2015 Archive when an entire folder is archived so the previous number sticks around. And 901.123 Some category that didn't work out if needed.

From a experimental methodology perspective, I’m happy to try it for a while and see what works. Being handy with the rename tool and regexes is helpful in case I decide that something isn’t working as well as intended.

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#1.

Ah, so you wouldn’t put them under something called Areas.

#2

Does 161 Taxes live…

  • Inside 160 Finances (actually 160-169 Finances)?
  • Alongside it, at the same level as 1 Personal life?

#3

Interesting idea. Personally, I want to keep old things in the area to which it relates, rather than one big Archive folder. I don’t currently have an `Archived folder within any area folder, but I have been experimenting with a couple of counterintuitive ideas…

  • Just letting old things sit in the same folder. The numerical denotation will already tell me plenty about what is current and what is not. For example, my Client work folder starts with old clients and runs to latest because JD numbers enforce order on this.
  • Abandoning JD numbers for certain “projects”. For example, within Photos, under 66 Holidays, I had been doing eg. 66.22.005 Kefalonia - wherein the 22 is actually a heuristic that denotes year; so, the Kefalonia “project” was the fifth excursion of 2022. All holiday photos have Photos folders like this at the same level, 66 Holidays. But, really, I’m not sure that’s any more friendly or useful than using simple dates, eg. 2022-08 Kefalonia. This would order the folders. Visually, it seems more human to browse the folder list in that way; I’m not sure if I have ever searched my devices for 66.22.... However, I do still like the idea that JD numbering would give such “projects” a common reference across apps - eg Todoist task planning, Photos, Gmail label.

#4

I look forward to seeing how it works out for you when you’ve changed 1. Personal life to 1. Projects (1. PARA?).

Nope - I’m not sure that the distinction is necessary.

The spacing in the numbering was because I went from e.g. 12 Health and fitness to 120 - will probably collapse this at some point.

1 Personal Life
├── 100 Admin
├── 110 Projects
├── 120 Health and Fitness
├── 130 Home
├── 140 People and Relationships
├── 150 Travel
├── 160 Finances
├── 161 Taxes
├── 180 Legal
└── 199 Archive

I’m generally of the same view, but there are definitely projects (etc.) I’d prefer to forget ever happened for whatever reason, but I can’t yet delete them. Archive helps in that regard.

A long time ago I was regularly doing nightclub photography and picked up a bunch of habits around handling photographs from The DAM Book. There’s an overview of some of it at 4. Organizing and Naming Files and Folders - The DAM Book, 2nd Edition [Book]. The notes about physical media is laughably outdated in the days of multi-terabyte hard drives and ubiquitous cloud storage. These days I mostly shoot on my phone, so photos just end up in Photos.app and I’m done.

This is still something I’m not 100% sure on. Perhaps 0 - System really is 0 - Projects? Maybe I’ll work it out in a few months.

Some interesting thoughts. When it comes to PARA + JD, I find that these are competing frameworks. Before I went all JD, I did use PARA. PARA is the part of BASB that makes up the framework/method for organising digital information in a way that you know where everything is. And that the information is organised in the same way across systems/apps.

JD is the same; a framework for organising digital information. Areas and Resources in PARA always got unclear and folders kind of moved between the two. I decided to pass on PARA and implement JD, and have never looked back.

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