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Organizing  you notes in Your PKM System

The three pillars of your PKM System are: PKM 1 getting stuff done, PKM 2 your biological brain, and PKM 3 your digital brain. Your biological brain is already organized with a networked structure, but for the other pillars you get to choose how they’re organized. Most people organize PKM 1 around goals, projects, areas of responsibility, and actions or tasks. PKM 3 (your digital brain or archive) can be organized as a network or as a hierarchal structure using topics of interest or completed things that I want to archive for each notebook.

For example, if I have a hierarchal structure for my PKM 3 then I might have completed projects, quotes, philosophy, psychology, meditation, mindfulness, Evernote, Notion, Obsidian, Gardening, Society, AI, etc. Each of these topic notebooks would hold all the notes or ideas I collected on that topic. One of the difficulties in using this structure is you have to decide where to put each note.

In the networked structure in ROAM, you put the note into roam and a single note can exist in as many categories as you want. Notion and obsidian have added this linking feature into their application as well.

Organizing in a Hierarchal Structured Note-Taking Application

Tiago Forte’s P.A.R.A. methodology that he teaches in his Building a Second Brain course works extremely well in an application that uses the hierarchal structure. It’s focused on the digital brain and its organization. Using this methodology, you would have four levels called Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives.

Within the Projects level you would have a notebook for each project, you’re working on. As each project completes the notes within the notebook can go into the Archive or into the resource section under a topical notebook for future use. A project is an activity with an end date. Whereas, an area is a responsibility that goes on indefinitely.

Areas may include such things as health, family, finances, auto, house, work, etc. These are areas of your life that stay with you always and require attention from you.

Resources are notebooks containing information about certain topics that you may raise to the level of projects in the future. For example, you going to buy a house you could begin gathering information on mortgages, insurance, price trends, floor plans, areas in the locale where you might want to live. For gardeners you could be collecting information on soil type, soil additives, how much watering the plants need, types of plants that grow easily, ETC.

Archives are generally a place where you put completed things and contain the history of what you have been doing. However, some people choose to collapse resources and archives into one category. This brings up an important point. No single right answer exists. You need to do what makes sense and works for you. You’re unique and shouldn’t follow exactly anyone else’s structure. This is your second brain.

organizing in a networked structured Application

Now let’s look at another way of looking at organizing your brain, a network structure. The only application currently, built this way is ROAM. This is the application for note taking I use, and I will be the first to admit that it takes a mind shift to understand how to use it. A large community of users, or as some would say a cult, exists. They exist to make add on to make the basic Roam more user-friendly.

The advantage of roam to me is that you can add your notes and not worry about where to put them. The Roam search will find every note that contains the word you’re looking for.

The disadvantage of roam is that it takes a longer time to become comfortable using it. It almost requires a programming mind to use it effectively. Although that is changing as more add-ons are installed.

What organization and note-taking application do you choose?

Most of the applications allow you to use a version of the PARA methodology with ease. For beginners, who aren’t already using a note-taking application, I would recommend Evernote with its hierarchal structure.

If you’re already using a note-taking application, you should probably continue to use and become an expert in its ways. Most note-taking applications are hierarchal based and the PARA methodology will work well.

For the adventuresome, I like the concept of having my second brain organized like my biological brain, so I’m using ROAM.

Contact me with any questions you may have or if you need or want help.