PARA 2.0: How I organize my notes and documents (for now)


I’ve been using the PARA method to organize my notes and documents since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. It’s simple and works well for me but a couple of weeks ago I made a small change and while it’s too early to tell, I think it might turn out to work even better.

PARA was conceived by Tiago Forte and was featured in his course, “Building a Second Brain,” which was recently released as a book.

PARA, is an acronym for 4 top-level categories or folders in a filing system, with folders for (P) Projects, (A) Areas, (R) Resources, and (A) Archives.

Projects are groups of activities you’re working on with a specific goal and deadline. Getting this year’s tax returns ready for filing, buying a new home, hiring a new clerk, for example.

Areas are distinct ongoing segments of your life, such as your practice, finances and investments, family, and health.

Resources are subjects that interest you but may not be immediately useful for one of your projects or areas. This might include general information on marketing or writing, templates and forms, or ideas for your blog or newsletter.

Archives is a catch all folder for storing completed projects or anything else that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories.

Like many people, I added two additional folders to my setup: an Inbox and a Journal (for daily notes and ideas).

So, what did I change? And why?

Instead of using PARA as my top level folders, I now use folders for each Area of my life: Personal, my business, and two additional businesses; I kept the Inbox, Archives, and Journal folders.

Each Area has 3 sub-folders: FILES, PROJECTS, and RESOURCES.

FILES are letters, receipts, contracts, pdfs, notes, and other documents related to that Area.

PROJECTS and RESOURCES for each area are the same as before, but specific to each Area.

Before, all projects were in a Projects folder. Now, each Area has its own Projects folder, as well as Files and Resources folders.

A small change, but I did it for a good reason (for me). When I’m working on a business project or digging through resources I might use for one of my businesses or in my personal life, I only want to look at Projects or Resources specific to that Area.

Separating things this way helps me focus and makes it easier to find things. I might spend most of the day in one Area and not look at any of the others. I might work on personal matters on Saturday and not look at work until the Monday.

I like this new way of organizing, but I also liked the “regular PARA setup. I don’t know which way I’ll finally settle on, or if I might find something I like even better.

Do you use PARA? Have you changed anything? What do you think about my modification?