PARA Starter Kit

I’m new to this whole world, based on this definition of Area and Resources I’m curious with an example I’ve seen within Resources of Wiki vs Zettlekasten and I tend to associate the same thought from the use case I saw. So would you advocate Wiki going into the Areas and Zettlekasten in the Resources?

it would be the other way around. Wiki are public shared things without personal information so they would go in Resources. ZK is supposed to be your thoughts and thinking on subject so it goes in Areas. But ZK is a system into itself already so it’s different and doesn’t fit super nicely in there because of that (and there’s multiple stage of a ZK note)

Nice article, when will you release the next part ? :grin:

Thank you so much! After hundreds of articles and youtube video, finally figured out how to setup my PARA system. This is so helpful!

I would be interested in what David Allen would say about this. I use Getting Things Done, and I don’t see where later/maybe type projects would fit into PARA. I also don’t see a separate tasks view, or a digital inbox. I am confused how someone would use this without those things.

Little bit of a weird take. First and foremost - not sure why GTD methodology matters here. But as someone that uses GTD and PARA…

I have one more main folder - inbox.

There’s a difference between an idea and a task. Ideas are bouncing around in Areas, usually.

Tasks I’ve committed to - which require projects - obviously get a project. I have an “on hold” folder for projects that have run cold to keep my Projects folder slimmer. This is just a sub folder in the Projects folder.

And I firmly believe in using separate tools for reference/notes and tasks. So, Obsidian just contains my notes anyway. Things 3 holds my tasks - which includes the thousands of single, one-off tasks I’ve completed that never had a project or presence in Obsidian at all.

It’s important to make a system that works for you. Not follow everything exactly as it is designed or imagined by somebody else.

4 Likes

I’ve been playing around with it in the last week. Maybe I’ve not used it enough to see how all my stuff would fit in. I follow most of the GTD recommendations, so that is why I compare to GTD.

I put together a post Obsidian and PARA: the perfect pair for universal knowledge management, hope it can be useful to someone.

@cotemaxime this thread has completely changed how I manage my files and really got me and my team bought in to Obsidian. Cannot thank you enough!

2 Likes

+1 When will part 2 be released, Ryan?

1 Like

Could we see the mixed version?

Someday! I wrote that post just before I happened upon Obsidian and, in turn, my focus shifted. My workflows and systems keep iterating so I haven’t had anything stable enough to talk about for a while. I regret the cliffhanger at the end of the article!

1 Like

@ryanjamurphy Time to settle down, get married, have a kid… :wink:

1 Like

FYI, Tiago’s book came out and I’m completely happy with it so far at the $15 price point for the Kindle version. Paired with his YouTube videos, I like his much more app-agnostic approach and the introductory chapter really changes my perspective of him. I previously ignored PARA simply because I didn’t like the “online course huckster” model, but I can get behind a book that doesn’t cost me $1000+ to get into. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve stayed on top of this, but if you haven’t seen his book, it’s worth checking out!

3 Likes

The book was engaging but I’m having trouble applying it to my vault.

:stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

I have thought a great deal about implementing P.A.R.A. in my workflow and have come up with the following:

  • Projects: exists in my task manager (Things3) and in Obsidian (indexed in Devonthink) and mostly contains courses I teach and administrative projects I have as a director of studies.
  • Areas: In Obsidian (indexed in Devonthink) and contains my notes on topics of interest. Mostly topics related to my field of study. But of course, also contains a lot of personal stuff (family-related)
  • Resources: Might only be in Devonthink (so that Sync in Obsidian won’t be a problem). And contains files of all kind. Mostly templates for the courses I teach with presentations, exercises etc in all kinds of document-types (docx, keynote etc.). These I can link to with DevonThink URLs if I need them in Obsidian or Things3. What about my PDFs in Zotero - they might go here as well or maybe I should change to just use Devonthink for PDFs and only use Zotero when I actually need to write a research article or similar some day. Have to think on that one.
  • Archive: Might stay only in Devonthink.

Any comments/ideas about this setup?

3 Likes

This is actually inspiring. Currently, I use a single folder structure for my PARA system but it limits me to apps that understand folder structures. The way you do it might actually be the only functional option for systems kept in apps like Logseq or Supernotes that don’t really do folders.

2 Likes

I came accross the P.A.R.A. only shortly after looking in to Zettelkasten, which was a concept igot hooked last year.
I also looked into the Lyt Kit.
Actually what PARA and Lyt Kit are missing, at least to my taste is a greater sense of order and also one point to mentions is the depth of nesting folders. (especially in Lyt Kit).

PARA is to broad and doesnt suggest and kind of structure inside the main folders. Lyt Kit has spaces and therefor will cause too deep nested folders.

I implemented a kind of JohnnyDecimal system before. It was a German author who wrote about his concept of agile files and is suggesting “actionable categories”. This was very unique view and I’ve never come across that concept in the English realm of productivity.

The basic concept is that you dont name a file (in para it would be a process) with an actionable description. So there is no Tax category but the project is “filing income tax 2022” the actionable approach is missing in many of these concepts of categories. By doing so the risk of filing in more than one folder is apparent.

I also think Nick has a point in his calendar folder to store timebased information.

So my approach is to have an

  • inbox (thats GTD)
  • Calendar (time based notes / daily / journaling)
  • projects (with project folder like “0002.51 Filing Taxes for 2022”)
  • areas (with a decimal substructure like “5 Financial / 51 Filing Taxes”)
  • Resources
  • Archive ( in the book it was recommended to set an achrive folder within each section as in “5 Financial / 51 Filing Taxes/ Archive” which holds all the accomplished project folders) so maybe i skip archive as main folder and set that up as last folder “zzArchive”

Having a business made me use the numbering approach, because when satff asks me about something they need I can just tell them to look into Binder 51 or I tell them look within the 5 Section.
Also important is quick access so no more than 2 Folders deep. Having Areas just being named folders might work for more simple life styles but i figures it will get super messy in not time if you really use that approach for too long.

When I am done setting it fully up i might also post a starter kit.

the book I was mentioning: Prozessorientierte Ablage: Dokumentenmanagement-Projekte zum Erfolg führen. Praktischer Leitfaden für die Gestaltung einer modernen Ablagestruktur by Wolf Steinbrecher

Its German, so maybe not many will make use of it. But i think this is worth mentioning here.

looking forward to your comments on this.

1 Like

I also use Obsidian for project and file management. One thing I’ve adopted is a convention of reserving the first digit of a folder’s two-digit prefix for the storage location:

  • 0 = Obsidian (zero)
  • 1 = File folder (on hard drive and cloud-synced)
  • 2 = Task-management (OmniFocus, in my case)
  • 3 = Email folder

I’m an academic, so have folders for Research writing projects (1), Teaching and supervision (2), University governance (3), Research project collaborations (4), Service to the profession outside my university (5), Personal (6), and Systems maintenance (7).

So, any folder in Obsidian about teaching starts with 02 (e.g., “02 Digital Ethics 2022-23”, whereas the OmniFocus project a project starts with 22 (e.g., “22 Digital Ethics 2022-23 Grade midterms” – actually I abbreviate this to 22dge ay22 Grade midterms")

For me, what is useful about this, is that if I’m running a search for folders (with Alfred on a Mac, say), I can see right away whether something is a folder in my Obsidian vault or a file folder on my hard drive (“12 Digital Ethics 2022-23 Assigned Readings” or “12 Digital Ethics 2022-23 - Lecture 07 on Explainability”).

I’ve not really decided yet whether to designate which of those folders are part of parent folders P.A.R.A., but I could easily do that. I toyed around with indicated that in the folder name (e.g., 12P for “teaching PROJECT on my hard drive”), but that got a bit fiddly. And there seemed to be a huge proliferation of folders. But I see the advantages of having 4 P.A.R.A. parent-folders at the top level and then a small set of folders in an “ACTIVE Projects” folder and also a place (Archive) where projects and areas of responsibility go to RIP.

1 Like

I’m also an academic and I keep courses I teach as active projects, the material I produce for the courses I keep in the resources folder.

I like the idea of having the location added to the system. As we all know, things spread over many locations. So that might be helpful.
Thanks for that suggestion.