The PARA Method

A Universal System for Organizing Digital Information.

The PARA Method (Projects, Areas, Resources, Archives) is a tool-agnostic structure to organize digital information, with the goals of beeing universal, flexible, simple, actionable, cross-platform, outcome-oriented, modular and opportunistic.

To achieve its goals, the method requires us to classify each piece of information into one of four categories:

Projects

A project is a series of tasks linked to a specific goal, with a deadline.

The characteristics of a project are:

  • goal to be achieved

  • has a deadline

Examples include:

  • Complete app website

  • Develop project plan

  • Pass final exams

Areas

An area of responsibility is "a sphere of activity with a standard to be maintained over time."

An area does not have a specific goal, nor does it have a deadline. The characteristics of an area are:

  • standard to be maintained

  • indefinite end date

Examples include:

  • Health

  • Finances

  • Professional Development

  • Productivity

  • Writing

Resources

A resource is "a topic or theme of ongoing interest."

Examples include:

  • habit formation

  • project management

  • music

  • online marketing

  • note-taking

Archives

Archives include "inactive items from the other three categories."

Examples include:

  • projects that have been completed or become inactive

  • areas that you are no longer committed to maintaining

  • resources that you are no longer interested in

Projects vs. Areas

The distinction between projects and areas is very important and here is why:

Areas of responsibilities are a bad way to measure productivity - if you don't make the distinction to projects, it will kill your motivation.

How can you tell if you "live a healthier life", "learn new things" or "beeing a better spouse"?

Exactly: You can't! But its easy to tell if you:

  • made sport 2 times this week

  • planned a night out this month with your spouse

  • subscribed to that new course

Projects always fall into areas.

Maybe you already sense the pattern here: You came up with projects in your areas of responsibilities. By connecting your projects to your areas of responsibilities, its easy to tell if you are effectively working towards your long-term goals - or if you mainly wasting your time.

Further Reading