Those using Forte's PARA Method-what do you put in Areas in your Task Manager?

What I’ve gotten from Tiago et Al over time is that the areas don’t have a fixed end date or state. So hire new head of IT is a project, even though you don’t have the date it’ll be done, because it will be “done”. The area “Head of school” is more like a combination single action list from GTD, and or recurring things for perpetuity, so you might have a recurring “send headmaster weekly email draft to the communications team” every Thursday in the area. You might make a project for “Develop, circulate and explain new guidelines for school dances” because that has a fixed end, even if you put the explanation in the weekly email.

In the end, it really seems like the big thing is that projects should be routinely archived, but areas only shift at major life events.

On the hiring example, I think Tiago would have you keep all your notes on hiring overall as a resource, then projects for each role.

I’m not sure why he doesn’t want you to put projects in areas, intuitively, I want to make areas be roles like @MacSparky and Shawn Blanc talk about, and tuck projects into them.

This does feel like an area to take what works and discard the chaff- Forte himself admits it’s a mashup of many ideas, and I think you’ve already combined ideas into your system.

I did see someone else labeled them Projects, Domains, Library and Archive, which I picked up because it felt more intuitively “what’s this thing for”. So I have a domain of “Marketing team leader” that’s basically a single action list.

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To give proper credit - this is where I saw the projects, domains, library, archive taxonomy.

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I like the alternate labels: projects, domains (areas), library (resources) and vault (archives)!

But the acronym is PDLV. Not what Tiago Forte was looking for, I would guess. :slightly_smiling_face:

From your screenshots it looks like you are using Things now? I thought you were an Apple Reminders person?

Projects, Library, Archive, Ideation, Domains



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No, I’m not using Things. That was a screenshot from Teago’s site. I have been using Reminders extensively, as I’ve posted previously. I had committed to using Apple’s default apps for a while now. I’ve pushed those apps about as far as they can go.

Sadly, “Apple forced” me to move on.

As I posted here, I’ve reluctantly lost faith in Apple Notes for my professional work (though Reminders has functioned flawlessly). The still unresolved issue with Apple Notes has made it impossible for me to trust AN for my meeting and project notes. And because I depend on the ability to integrate my notes and projects, once I felt compelled to leave AN, I also needed to abandon Reminders for my professional work.

Consequently, I’ve turned 180 degrees; I’m now back where I started—OmniFocus + Craft. Craft has an excellent plug-in that will transfer todos in Craft directly to OF with the link preserved. And, as most on this forum know, OmniFocus has about every feature one would need to project management short of professional project applications like OmniPlan and MS Project.

I’m disappointed.

Because of the deep integrations and the robust features of AN, I want to use Apple’s default apps. In addition to deep system integration and powerful features, Apple’s apps are free.

But, when one of the essential features of a modern app, dependable syncing, is not provided, I am forced to move on. Unfortunately, the issue with AN syncing is still not resolved. It will be, eventually, but I cannot afford to waste any more time trying to get things to work; I need to get my work done.

So, I have revamped my workflow, as shown below. I intend to keep this workflow for one full year with no changes.

In short, my primary apps are now, and for the foreseeable future, what I consider to be among the best in class for the purpose they were designed. I’ve decided that I will pay for the feature set and reliability.

  • Craft—notes
  • Ulysses—writing
  • OmniFocus—project/task management
  • DEVONthink—research storage (yes, I’m moving away from Obsidian. Since I’m changing my workflow I’m selecting the apps that give me the most power for my needs)
  • Apple Notes—for personal notes only. I export these monthly using the Exporter app to DEVONthink
  • Apple Calendar—considered BusyCal but my calendar needs are simple—a place to note appointments. This does not justify additional cost.


I’m sorry to hear that the Apple Notes syncing problems still exist. I thought they had finally solved that problem, but clearly not. I mostly use Obsidian for notes, but still use Apple Notes for a few personal things that aren’t that important and I wouldn’t be upset if they disappeared. It seems to be a matter of scale. Apple Notes works fine with a small number of notes, but starts to fail with a larger, nested system.

It performed well in my stress test a while back. I think syncing is just hard, and hasn’t been mastered by many developers.

Apparently. I’m not sure how “larger” should be defined relative to AN. I have 1,062 notes. Most of those are pure text. That does not seem like a large number to me.

I’d use Obsidian, I like the app, but its friction with organizing folders, creating tables, and adding PDFs, images and the like, while possible, is not efficient for my needs. Too fiddly. Craft is much better at this. The other key for me is I can send a list of nested follow-ups from Craft to OF and they appear in OF in the same format (nested) and with the Craft document link included. That is a perfect for my needs.

Eventually Apple will fix my Notes syncing issue but at this point I’ll only put unimportant personal items in AN. Everything else will go to Craft and DEVONthink.

I like that as well!

That is exactly what I do; seems more intuitive to me.

I don’t know that you have to put areas in a task manager, but for some, myself included, areas give me an additional layer to organize and/or associate projects with areas I’m responsible for…or so I thought. I’m actually reconsidering having areas for active projects at all in my task manager, as I’m not sure it’s giving me any additional value. Once I’ve decided to engage in a project, I know what area of my life or work it’s impacting. By having an area in my project manager, it’s making me feel like I should have an active project for each of them and I’m finding that I end up with too many projects going on at one time.

However, I do like areas for planning and as placeholders for projects/thoughts/ideas that I may want to engage in at some point. It forces me to look at all the “hats” I wear and make sure I’m not failing in areas that are important for me to maintain.

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I’ve not taken any of his paid courses, but I did read through some of his work a couple years back. I believe as you go through P.A.R.A. it takes you from actionable (Projects) and becomes less actionable as you go down to Archive. The idea being some of your areas likely have non-actionable items associated with them, so to avoid clutter and create focus, you put all actionable items across all your areas into a Projects level view.

I could be off, as I’m by no means an expert on P.A.R.A.

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Looking back over my notes from his BASB course a few years ago I think there are two main reasons for the Areas being in the task manager:

  1. The most fundamental reason is that Thiago wants you to mirror the PARA structure (e.g. current Project list / Areas you have defined) in EVERY tool that forms part of your system. So, the same structure in Task Manager and Notes app and Cloud Storage etc… If I recall this is to reduce friction, you know the structure is the same everywhere so you know where to look.

  2. He puts ‘single action list’ type tasks in the area ‘Buckets’ to keep that project list clear, having your current actionable project list in the Project ‘bucket’ so you know what your priorities are.

I’m not sure if this is a direct quote from a live session in BASB or my summary from my notes, but this may add further to the thinking -

"It’s true that projects nest under areas but it’s not ideal to nest them this way in the Task Manager as we loose the power of quickly seeing and working with the project list…"

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For me, if a project doesn’t feed a role, I really have to question why I’m doing it.


I’ve been using PARA for 18 months at home and work. It is working for me. Some quick points that have helped me:

  • I use PARA across all parts of my systems: Reminders, Finder, DEVONthink AN etc. As already pointed out, this helps me know exactly where to find stuff. One structure everywhere.
  • For tasks: “active projects” (i.e those I am currently working on) are in a Projects folder in Reminders. This keeps them front and foremost in my mind. I have Areas in Reminders too - these include projects that are not currently active, plus a list of single action items for the area.
  • I don’t have Resources and Archives in Reminders

While I have the PARA folders in each app, I don’t give each topic a folder in that app, only if that information is relevant for that app.

On a side topic: Tiago Forte’s PKM teaching is much more than PARA. PARA is actually a small part of what he teaches. I found his ideas on taking notes and expressing new ideas much more useful than PARA. The PARA system is just a support tool (that happens to work for me) for the important aim of creating new stuff and sharing it. I think some folks dismiss him due to not liking PARA and miss out on the rest.


After reading BASB I really tried to embrace P.A.R.A in it’s original state, but like @Bmosbacker rightly points out, the AREAS section was something that sort of befuddled me as to its appropriate use. Though I still include the structure in my folder hierarchies, I find that I focus solely on the Projects, Resources, and Archive folders. Areas has become like some sort of temporary holding spot for ideas about future projects, more of a dropping off spot I guess. Projects and Resources see the most back and forth file transfers.

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Task management for PARA
Project - short term and actionable
Area - responsibility you maintain

Areas to me are repeating tasks, that are not projects and have no clear ending.

Projects have more than one step and has a clear end.

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I ended up reading Tiago Forte’s book, Building a Second Brain, solely to understand how to use PARA across many systems. Ultimately, I figured out the best thing is to just try anything to discover what works for me, then adapt the system. PARA is not where I landed, but it still has some good lessons.

Excerpts from TF’s book

  1. Projects: Short-term efforts in your work or life that you’re working on now. Projects are most actionable because you’re working on them right now and with a concrete deadline in mind.
  2. Areas: Long-term responsibilities you want to manage over time. Areas have a longer time horizon and are less immediately actionable.
  3. Resources: Topics or interests that may be useful in the future. Resources may become actionable depending on the situation.
  4. Archives: Inactive items from the other three categories. Archives remain inactive unless they are needed.

Projects: What I’m Working on Right Now

Projects include the short-term outcomes you’re actively working toward right now. Projects have a couple of features that make them an ideal way to organize modern work. First, they have a beginning and an end; they take place during a specific period of time and then they finish. Second, they have a specific, clear outcome that needs to happen in order for them to be checked off as complete, such as “finalize,” “green-light,” “launch,” or “publish.”

The book was unclear on what goes in projects. In places, it sounds like only current working projects are stored in projects. Potential future projects are kept within Areas. When the time is right, they are promoted out of Areas and into Projects. In other places, he makes it sound like all current and future projects are kept in Projects. In a YouTube video, it looks like the a combination. Most projects are in one list outside of any areas, but a few are organized by area.

Areas: What I’m Committed to Over Time

As important as projects are, not everything is a project. For example, the area of our lives called “Finances” doesn’t have a definite end date. It’s something that we will have to think about and manage, in one way or another, for as long as we live. It doesn’t have a final objective. Even if you win the lottery, you’ll still have finances to manage (and it will probably require a lot more attention!).

While there is no goal to reach, there is a standard that you want to uphold in each of these areas.

Resources: Things I Want to Reference in the Future

The third category of information that we want to keep is resources. This is basically a catchall for anything that doesn’t belong to a project or an area and could include any topic you’re interested in gathering information about.

Under resources I have folders for each of the topics I’m interested in. This information isn’t currently actionable, so I don’t want it cluttering up my projects, but it will be ready and waiting if I ever need it.

Archives: Things I’ve Completed or Put on Hold

Finally, we have our archives. This includes any item from the previous three categories that is no longer active.

The archives are an important part of PARA because they allow you to place a folder in “cold storage” so that it doesn’t clutter your workspace, while safekeeping it forever just in case you need it.

What PARA Looks Like: A Behind-the-Scenes Snapshot

PARA is a universal system of organization designed to work across your digital world. It doesn’t work in only one place, requiring you to use completely different organizing schemes in each of the dozens of places you keep things.

Instead of organizing ideas according to where they come from, I recommend organizing them according to where they are going—specifically, the outcomes that they can help you realize. This order gives us a convenient checklist for deciding where to put a note, starting at the top of the list and moving down:

  • In which project will this be most useful?
  • If none: In which area will this be most useful?
  • If none: Which resource does this belong to?
  • If none: Place in archives.

So… that said… I found what works for me is…

Don’t waste time looking for the perfect system. It doesn’t exist. Use something (GTD, Forte’s, whatever) and adapt the system when your needs don’t fit it.

Every system is likely going to have these same components.

  • inboxes (email, Slack, meeting notes, etc)
  • notes where most of the thinking is recorded
  • task lists to prioritize what needs to be done
  • calendar for scheduled appointments and time blocks
  • file folders to keep necessary files (unfortunately, I cannot get away from using many - DropBox, iCloud, OneDrive and Google Drive)

Each of these easily overflows and so needs to be organized.

Tiago Forte’s CODE (Capture, Organize, Distill, Express) framework is analgous enough to David Allen’s CCORE (Capture, Clarify, Organize, Review, Engage), though I prefer the latter.


Information usually comes in through email, but it can arrive via Slack, conversations, meetings, phone calls or any other means. At this point, this information needs to be clarified and properly stored. Then the input can be archived. We hopefully won’t be looking at that input again.


If the email requires no further work, archive or delete it. If it does require more work:

  1. store initial ideas in a note (named for the project)
  2. make a project in your task manager for it (link the task to the note)
  3. save any files somewhere easily found (put a link in the note)
  4. store the email (we may need to come back to it, but probably not)

ORGANIZE (Simplified PARA)

Projects, Domains, Library and Archive

Tiago Forte recommends storing everything in analagous organization systems within email, tasks, notes and files. This is where he uses the PARA system. Not every system (email, tasks, notes and files) needs each element of PARA.

  • Emails are archived into appropriately named folders within areas. There’s no need for projects or reference here.
  • Tasks are created within areas. Once done, they are not archived nor stored for reference. If needed, they are available in the log of completed tasks (though Things makes searching this harder than it needs to be)
  • Notes are stored within folders named for areas. Old notes of completed projects can be moved to an archive, but in practice I keep it all together
  • Files are all basically there for reference and stored within folders named for projects within areas. Old projects (and their files) can be archived but in practice I just leave it all in one place to keep things simple.

So then there is no need for a separate projects folder. Put everything in its area and the task manager will tell you what’s up next. Areas contain all the projects and reference material. Archive stores old emails and old projects.

system everything is organized by area
email all is archived
files all is reference, old stuff archived?
tasks all are projects/tasks
notes all project & reference notes stored together, old stuff archived?

All I really need are areas with nested projects.


Tiago Forte has several great videos on how he completes his weekly review. Deciding what to do next.

  1. Clear email inbox
  2. Check calendar (-2/+4 weeks)
  3. Clear physical inbox/notebook
  4. Clear computer desktop/downloads
  5. NAB budget review
  6. Process Evernote inbox
  7. Prioritize and file new open loops
  8. Review Waiting For list followup
  9. Review Photos for images
  10. Choose Today tasks


Go do stuff! Don’t waste time organizing my pens… just start writing.