PARA / Progressive Summarization - Am I understanding this correctly?

I’m reading BASB, and it seems to me like the premise for organizing actual documents is four broad folders:


Per the book, it seems you put a note in the first folder (starting at the top) where it logically makes sense. So if I have a project for Customer A (“build website”), and Customer A sends me something like a logo / Pantone / “branding” document, I know I’ll need that for the website - so I drop it in Projects → Build Website For Customer A.

Then I finish the website for Customer A. Since I’m not working on the project anymore, I archive it to Archives → Build Website For Customer A.

And when Customer A comes back three months later, asking for a flyer, I create Projects → Design Flyer For Customer A. Then to find the branding document, I search through the Archives and look for any projects that might be relevant, find Archives → Build Website For Customer A, and dig through that folder for anything that might be useful, thus finding the branding document.

And if I’m looking for a note, let’s say about general principles for picking colors for a website, I would go into a Resources → Web Design folder, search for “color”, and click through each article that surfaced in the search. In each article, theoretically, I would have multiple layers of highlighting to surface key points, which I would skim to see if it was the content I was after.

If the articles weren’t summarized yet, I’d skim them to see if it was the content I was after, and presumably add summarization to any of them that looked like they’d be useful later.

Whereas if I were looking for a discussion I knew I’d had with a previous customer (Customer A, but I don’t know that) about color picking for their website because somehow the discussion might be relevant to Customer X three years later, I would search my entire archive folder to see if I could find the appropriate note, and move that note out of Archive → Design Website For Customer A to either Resources → Web Design or to the current project.

Is this the intended flow of the system? Or am I missing something?

I think you are correct on the general theme. However, I believe each person should have its own customisation of the PARA methodology and not take it rigidly.

For me as I do not work full time anymore, my PARA set up is as follows

  1. Projects - something that has start and end , like preparing and lodging tax return
  2. Areas - ongoing tasks that do not have end, eg. notes related to studying bible
  3. Resources - references, may not have immediate needs but one day we may need to dig it out, such as ASCII codes
  4. Archived - projects that are completed but worthwhile to have the details kept, such as post project review, lessons learned, entire archive of project documentation, etc.

I guess each person may have a different interpretation or implementation. However, I started using PARA as the first tier catalog and filing, follows with 2nd and 3rd tiers, etc

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I never heard of PARA or building a second brain until the MPU episode with Thiago, but I found it interesting that I do a lot of what he recommended already. The one thing that he didn’t talk about that I find essential is having a folder for People. I create a note for each important person in my life as well as famous people such as Cal Newport. So when I read a book by Newport, I will have notes for the book and a link to the Cal Newport note in my People folder. Same when I have a conversation or meeting with a colleague at work. The notes from that meeting will have a link to that person. Then using Obsidian’s back link feature, I can open a person’s note and see all the meetings and other interactions I’ve had with that person.


In general I agree with this, just like each person customizes a system like GTD. I’m just trying to understand the intended methodology before I decide what, if anything, to do with it. :slight_smile:

That’s one thing that (so far) that I haven’t found in BASB - interlinking of notes. It seems that notes are being actually moved back and forth between different projects and PARA areas. Which is one of the reasons why I’m wondering if I’m misunderstanding it. :slight_smile:

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I have the book unfortunately still on me RL-List, but as far as I understand the approach right now from several YT-Videos from Tiago Forte, several Blogs and so on, Tagging and Linking is a very important part of a Second Brain.
And, for my Second Brain(´s), I do both (and at least tagging) of it, whenever possible.
For the example on the OP I would tag and link everything.
I would made an entry for Customer A, with links of all relevant items to him.
I would made an entry for the website, with link of all relevant items to this entry.
I would made an entry for the Logo/Pantone/Branding document, with links of all relevant items to this entry.
And in case Customer X shows up, I would made an entry for him, and link all relevant items to this entry.
I would not move anything around in that case, but leave it where it is and just link it.

In addition to the above, I would tag everything substantially. I would add “customer a” (I use all small cabs for all tagging!) to all relevant documents. I would add the websites tag to “customer a” and the Logo-Doc. And so on.
And in case Costumer X shows up, I just do the relevant linking, and tag everything I need for him in addition with “costumer x”.
The Logo/Pantone/Branding Doc would have been of course tagged also with a tag for the logo, the Pantone, the branding, and anything special that might be important. I use a Textexpander-Snippet since a year now, to also ad a “month year” tag to everything, to kind a sort it by that feature.
I yesterday short around midnight, I was looking for an document I needed, and DT3 wasn’t able to locate it with the Full Text Search (it seem I have some serious issues with that lately for some reason I don’t know yet!?). So I spend the Tag-Section and just searched for one of the tags I placed with this document, and found it within seconds on that way, because only 2 (out of more than 50.000 documents in that Database) remained on that search.
A Second Brain, without linking and tagging, would not work in my understanding. At least not in a productive way.

I found this (very long!) article by Tiago Forte about (at least a part of) it:

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ALL articles by Tiago Forte are very long! :grinning: