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:
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
Complete app website
Develop project plan
Pass final exams
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
A resource is "a topic or theme of ongoing interest."
Archives include "inactive items from the other three categories."
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
The distinction between projects and areas is very important and here is why:
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
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.