Adopting the PARA system

It’s been a while since I’ve been active online. The last few weeks were hectic as too many things were going on at the same time. The majority on a personal level.

My to-do list was full. I felt I was doing a million tasks a day. And I felt unproductive. My head was working all the time thinking about all the things I need to do.

I wanted to write down all the open “projects” I was working on. I needed to know what are the open tabs in my life/mind as I figured out this will help me get a bigger picture of what was happening and help me prioritize. That’s when I remembered the PARA system. I knew about the PARA system a long time ago but I didn’t feel the urge to test it at that time. This time, I needed a new system…

PARA is a system for organizing digital information and increasing productivity. There are 4 basic pillars in this system. The first two are areas and projects.

Areas are long-term activities where you need to keep a standard over time. Examples include Health, Business, Finances… You don’t want to be healthy for a few months only. It’s a long-term standard. The same goes for finances, business…

Projects are a series of tasks, linked to a specific goal with a deadline. Examples include “Working on X proposal”, “Write a blog post”… Each project needs to have a deadline, otherwise, it’s not a project.

In addition to the areas and projects, there are two other pillars: resources and archives.

Resources are topics or themes of ongoing interest. They can be linked to an area or a project, depending on the resource. Examples include Project Management, Music, Coffee…

Archives, as the name suggests, hosts the completed projects, areas, or resources.

If you want to fully use the PARA system, you need to have the same areas/projects organization in all your tools. Mainly your note-taking app (Notion in my case), and your to-do list (TickTick in my case). But that wasn’t possible at first, I just had too many things going on. So I started with Notion using this video.

Shortly after listing all my areas of interest and all my current projects, I had a clear idea of what was going on in my head. Just the fact of writing things down helped me visualize things clearly. I was taking on so many things… So I started prioritizing.

The best thing about Notion is you can create multiple views of the same data. So I created a board where I can see the projects in progress and another one where I can see the projects on hold (waiting for a response) and projects I want to start in the future.

I used those boards to help me navigate the projects I was working on and I still use them to this day for both personal and professional projects.

Overall, the system helped me navigate that hectic period. I used it to understand why my mind was working all the time and why I was feeling exhausted.

After that period, I managed to organize my to-do app TickTick with the same system. A folder for each area, and a list of tasks for each project.

If you have a system that’s already working for you, that’s awesome! If not, I encourage you to test the PARA method.


Hey, I’m Ahmed, I write about productivity, business, and achieving financial independence. Get my future posts directly in your email:


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