PARA Takes the Personal Out of Personal Knowledge Management

Use what you need. No more. No less.

4 min readAug 16, 2023

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I’ve tried a couple of different PKM folder frameworks, including the most popular, Tiago Forte’s PARA, and want to take some time to write about my feelings on them.

The very nature of personal knowledge management requires that we develop our own workflow through trial and error. I view tags and folders in the same way.

Implement what you need, when you need it. My mind garden began with three folders (seeds, attachments, and projects) and no tags. This setup worked for me for about a year before I started needing some extra navigation and search options.

Try out my super simple personal knowledge management system for Obsidian if you’re just getting started.

What is PARA?

PARA’s four folders are meant to hold everything in your personal management system. It stands for:

  • Project — Short-term work you are currently working on
  • Area — Long-term responsibilities you need to manage
  • Resource — Interests that may be of use in the future
  • Archive — Inactive items from the other three categories

Projects I get. We all have creative projects in process at all times, so some kind of working folder is probably going to be necessary. Notice it was one of my original three folders.

Areas I see as an optional folder depending on whether or not you track your personal life in your PKM as well as your knowledge work. I do now have a Personal folder for my journal and a few life notes but it’s certainly not one that’s necessary.

Resources I see as absolutely unnecessary. If I’m curious enough about something that I seek out information and start making notes on it, it’s already useful for me.

Archive is another optional folder. I don’t archive my finished projects in my PKM because I’m never finished with any of my notes.

So, of the four PARA folders, I have a use for two and there are still multiple needs I have that aren’t covered.

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Angie Bowen

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