"unambiguous index" is difficult for a personal index

I only recently discovered this nifty and clever indexing system. I like it and have started drafting a structure that could work for me. Indexing my work stuff was easy (7 easy areas, each with easy categories).

But trying to arrange my personal file structure into the J.D system turns out to be really tricky for me, as I find I run out of categories very fast! My filesystem, as well as my note-taking system (Workflowy FTW!) is already organized and has elaborate nesting. Squeezing all this into just two levels with only 9 categories each is daunting!

  • Is hobbies a category in my personal area? But I have several hobbies, so I don’t have enough categories for other personal stuff.
  • Should I make projects like personal and hobbies, or even make a separate project for each hobby?
  • Wait, if hobby1 is a project then family should be a project too, and not an area of my personal stuff.
  • Then I guess finance is also a project and not an area. Or is finance in family because my spouse and I have joint economy? But y’all have finance as part of your personal project.

How do you tackle a deeply nested set of data?

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It sounds like the issue here isn’t so much nesting as having lots of potential arrangements. There’s no one right way to do it, so you can either do what feels right to you (sounds like that’s not obvious), or sketch out the alternatives and see how they look: which arrangements give you the most slots where you need them?

I have separate top-level areas for “Personal” (includes hobbies, but also non-work stuff that’s just relevant to me), “Family” (includes finance stuff, health, kids school), and “House” (insurance, maintenance, etc.). In the end, you just have to pick an arrangement arbitrarily, and if it’s not an area you work in a lot, the cost of changing it later if it turns out you’d rather do something else is actually pretty low.

Hi. I’m new to j.d but I’ll give an answer from a GTD perspective:

  • an area of responsibility is a zone to maintain: family, team management, sports, house. It contains projects.
  • a project is a list of actions to achieve an outcome. It has a beginning and an end.

I hope it helps…


This is where GTD and JD differ, I think. You are right about GTD projects, but it feels like the PRO.AC.ID format lends itself to long-term stuff that Johnny chose to call projects.

Still don’t really know how to organize this…

In fact, projects have a different definition at J.D and GTD. I would therefore understand the term project at J.D as another hierarchical level. Nothing more. Thereby you can also define yourself where (PRJ, AC, ID) three digits should be used.