PARA Starter Kit

Hey everyone,

I built a small P.A.R.A. Starter kit for use with Obsidian. It’s a full vault to explore around and some of the methodology for P.A.R.A. and how to get started for yourself

Installation:

  • Download the zip and unzip
  • Select the unzipped folder as a vault in Obsidian
  • Enjoy
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Thanks for this. Gives me a nice launching pad!

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Thanks. It’s nicely formatted. I find that I need Domains and Sub-Domains as well as PARA. That’s mainly because I like to focus on particular Domains every week, and Sub-Domains every month. Areas and Projects are nested within those.

Thanks for the helpful demo, Maxime!

How is this method working for you? I’ve read some of Tiago Forte’s stuff with interest, but now that I see it in action, am increasingly skeptical of the four-folders-on-all-devices part of his approach.

I understand the distinction between Projects and Areas of Responsibility. When I had top level folders in my task manager for Grantwriting or Home Improvements it was hard to get a feel for my workload, as those folders got cluttered with a mix of tasks, potential projects that I hadn’t committed to, and reference material. I’ve had much better results now that my list of projects are concrete objectives that could realistically be finished in the next year: “Apply for Grant A,” “Apply for Grant B,” and “Replace window well.”

I do not see the distinction between Areas of Responsibility and Resources. Why does Health have a standard to be maintained but not Cooking? In what way is How eating slow can transform your health and make you more productive more actionable an article than Easy Mini Quiche Recipe?

Do you get something out of the process of moving things between folders, as described in the 3 example workflows? Moving reference material between Resource and Project folders on a task manager, notetaking app like Obsidian, Google Drive, and hard drive or cloud service seems like a lot of work, with the potential to break links to source data and photos in some of the software I use, but I’d consider it if it helped me review and reflect on my ideas and documents.

I think there’s value in defining concrete Projects and envisioning their outcomes, and reflecting on the habits and workflows needed to support your Areas of Responsibility. With each new piece of information you collect, there’s value in thinking about how you might use it for a current or future project. But my inclination would be to link relevant ideas or readings to a project note, rather than move those notes into a project folder. With in line wiki-links, you could clarify exactly how you used the information in the note “Python Mock Patching” for a project, and it gives you the option to associate it with more than one active project, which you can’t do with folders.

I haven’t found much serious discussion of PARA (except for this this thread courtesy of @ryanjamurphy ) and am inclined to dismiss is as equal parts insight and snake oil.

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I have written a bit more about the value of PARA here:

However, I share many of the issues you raise, and have been working on a sort-of “fork” of PARA that I find much more conceptually straightforward. It isn’t quite share-worthy yet but I’ll try to remember to post here when I publish it.

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Thanks! Pace layers make sense to me. At a previous employer, aerial photos and other base layers for GIS mapping were stored on a shared server and used for lots of different projects. They were large files and updated infrequently, so it made sense to store them separately from work in progress so you could back up on a different schedule. However, frequency of editing is not the same as frequency of use. I used these files every day for my core job responsibilities (and can think of similar examples for reference manuals or databases or logos for graphic design) so the “hobbies and research” examples used to explain the Resources category fall flat for me. And in these cases, it makes more sense to drop a shortcut or pointer from a project file to the Resources folder than to copy or move things into a projects folder.

Looking forward to seeing your “fork.”

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Well, to get out of the way I wouldn’t call it snake oil in any form, is it completely new and never seen before? No, but is there really anything new? It is indeed an amalgam of various ideas from other places mix together in an interesting form, as it’s how his methods work really. But I have seen and live a significant transformation and increase in my output with it, and I know of many other people who did so to.

The thing with PARA is that’s it’s just 1/3 of BASB really, and a lot of other workflows make it actually works. By itself, it’s just a decent way to keep track of things if you don’t have links or you’re doing project-based organization. As for Areas vs. Resources, it’s a thing that trips everyone really. Those examples are just mine also, for me I don’t want to get better at cooking and improve or keep my focus on it over time, I just put recipe there for reference. In contrast, Health is a thing I’m actually actively looking into and want to get better at and learn more and improve. That’s the only reason why those are there in those categories.

The final thing is moving files across folders. I do that all the time when I’m creating a new project, but that’s not really PARA. It’s more JIT PM, which is another part of BASB enabled by PARA. It’s based on project workflows and moving things and finding interesting ideas as you do so. Can you make it better with linking? Maybe but then if you want to change a piece of information’s place, you have to edit it all the time instead of just dragging it around. It also becomes a lot hard to change stuff unless you have an app like Obsidian that can edit all links on rename.

Speaking of Obsidian, I am working on a mixed version of PARA that includes links and some other things since we can in Obsidian. For this kit, I wanted to explain PARA as it is not how I forked it. However, a lot of people often forked it because BASB and PARA are just the bare minimum working minimum that you build upon, not a final done product.

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I recently (sort of) took Building A Second Brain class, and I started my version of it. I have to say, I love it! I’m a graduate student and I was overwhelmed with the gigantic amount of information I was getting from different sources and in different formats. But it helped me a lot. Though PARA is just part of BASB, I can say that it is easily one of the most important elements of it.
Also for those who are interested, there is a great collection of illustrations by Maggie Appleton describing BASB including P.A.R.A. method and how to migrate to it.

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Very helpful @cotemaxime, thank you.

I actually pointed Obsidian to my existing PARA implementation on my work and personal computer, and they are very similar to the example you provide.

I think that’s the brilliant thing about Obsidian, how it fits itself around your existing folder structure with minimal impact.

Your starter kit is reassuring confirmation and a good template to get others started.

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