Whether in business or your personal life, increased organization is the foundation of success. It is a form of knowledge management that boosts efficiency in all aspects of life while simultaneously unlocking a more relaxed and confident mindset. Therefore, any tool that makes it easier to stay organized should be embraced with open arms. The PARA method by Tiago Forte is one of the best!
So, what exactly is the PARA method and how can it be implemented to encourage increased organization with life-changing results? Here’s everything you need to know.
WHAT DOES THE PARA METHOD STAND FOR?
The first step to understanding the PARA method is to unpack the acronym itself. Each of the four stages is listed below, along with Forte’s very brief definition;
Projects – a series of tasks linked to a goal.
Areas – a sphere of activity with a standard to be maintained over time.
Resources – a topic or theme of ongoing interest.
Archives – any inactive items from the other three categories.
In essence, the project is what you set out to complete or achieve, which could be anything from completing an essay to transforming your guest room into an office. The project will usually have a deadline.
The areas are simply a tool used to compartmentalize your life by assigning each project to a specific space. For example, a work project would be in the career aspects of your life while a vacation would be associated with family time. The resources are the skills, tools, and knowledge that can be used to support your projects or simply fall into the areas of responsibility. Finally, once a project is completed, those resources are no longer needed but can be stored in your physical or mental archives for future reference.
WHY THE PARA METHOD WORKS
Before implementing any knowledge management tool or organizational strategy, you will need to confirm whether it can actually help you.
One of the great things about the PARA method is that it allows you to differentiate between projects and areas. Confusion over this is usually one of the biggest stumbling blocks for productivity and efficiency. Hitting your monthly sales target is a project, your career is the area of responsibility. Training for a charity bike ride is the project, fitness is the area of responsibility. The clear distinction is hugely important for your life.
When used correctly, the PARA method delivers a plethora of rewarding features, including but not limited to;
Compartmentalize the different areas of your life, allowing you to focus on what matters most at any given time.
Create a clear and defined list of projects with deadlines while also thinking about the resources needed to complete them.
It’s simple and flexible, meaning it can be implemented with virtually any project management software, as well as manual paper methods.
The PARA method naturally encourages you to remain goal orientated to provide direction and guidance.
It can be used in conjunction with various project management tools and strategies, like time blocking.
If nothing else, the clear and concise attributes of the PARA method will keep your mind clear. Likewise, seeing the details of your projects laid out with transparency will serve as a motivational tool to get things done.
HOW TO USE THE PARA METHOD
Keeping organized with the PARA method relies heavily on the ability to keep all four areas of the process clearly defined. The best way to achieve this is through making lists.
Whether working with digital tools or a notepad, the first step is to write your projects list. This includes projects that need to be completed as well as those that you want to achieve. Many people find that it is best to prioritize their list too. They could include daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly tasks.
Once again, that distinction between areas and projects is key. Some examples include;
Recruitment (Area) -> Project 1: Hire an assistant; Project 2: Hire a marketer.
Vacation (Area) -> Project 1: Save $1,500; Project 2: Schedule time off; Project 3: Book the destination.
Health (Area) -> Project 1: Cycle 50km this week; Project 2: Eat under 2,500 calories each day.
The above items underline the versatile nature of the method, and how it can be used to help you stay organized in various aspects of your world. Following your projects list, it’s important to list your resources and keep a tab of your archives. When all four areas are connected, efficiency will soar.
From daily challenges to long-term assignments, the organizational knowledge management tool by Tiago Forte truly is a game-changer. As a beginner, try using it in just two areas of your life to start before extending to other areas at a later date. You will notice a huge transformation within weeks!