PARA is a method of organizing digital information, designed by Tiago Forte. Tiago Forte also proposed the method of Progressive Summarization.
PARA stands for:
- a series of tasks linked to a goal. E.g. app mockups, project plans, blog post etc.
- a sphere of activity with a standard to be maintained over time. E.g. Health, Finances, Travel, Hobbies
- a topic or theme of ongoing interest. E.g. habit formation, project management, interior design
- inactive items from the above 3 categories
Projects vs Areas
Projects always have a goal to be achieved, typically with some hard deadline. The end of a project is signalled by the occurrence of some discrete event.
Areas are ongoing standards, that may have no end date or eventual outcome. Projects always fall into areas.
Why distinguishing projects and areas is important
This helps someone understand the true extent of their commitments. Commitments are towards projects – responsibilities with tangible outcomes. Knowing how projects connect to your long-term goals (areas) is important.
Contrasting with Zettelkasten
This seems to be in contrast with other techniques like Zettelkasten. which propose no such organization, instead using links between different information.
My personal thoughts:
- PARA looks like it would form a good hierarchical overview of tasks and information. Zettelkasten does not provide this.
- Zettelkasten remains a useful tool for low-level, inter-project information-linking.
The PARA Interface
- Overview Level
- List favourite problems
- List ongoing projects
- Project level
- Creating a project (define time-frame, outcome)
- Visiting a project
- View tasks, resources, notes
- Archiving a project
- Capturing a resource to a project (download file/webpage, save to defined folder)
- Resource level
- Create note for resource + tools to perform progressive summarization