Organization Methodology for Information

We can't store every bit of information in our brains.

Sometimes it's best to do it digitally, sometimes it's best to put it down on paper.

I'm not talking about creating a perfect hierarchy of 100 folders for 100 topics.

There's a better way to organize your ideas, and it involves taking the small extra step of putting a note into a folder (I'll use the term “folder” to refer to the main unit of organization used by most note apps).

With this system, every piece of information you want to save can be placed into one of four categories:

  • Projects: Short-term efforts that you're working on right now, such as completing a web-page design, finishing a language course or researching the best podcast microphone.
  • Areas: Long-term responsibilities you want to manage over time. For example, the area of our lives called “finances” that doesn't have a definite end date; it's something we will have to think about and manage for as long as we live.
  • Resources: Think about what you are interested in (e.g., architecture, interior design), subjects you are researching (e.g., habit formation, project management), and useful information you want to be able to reference (e.g., vacation spots, project testimonials).
  • Archives: Inactive items from the other three categories. For example: projects that are completed or canceled, hobbies you're no longer interested in, or responsibilities you're no longer committed to.

The archives are important because they allow you to place a folder in “cold storage.” You can access that information in the future — maybe you take on a project similar to one you previously completely — within seconds.

I've used this organization methodology successfully (in my opinion) with my browser bookmarks for work and personal accounts, and notes on my work's wiki and my personal notes on Standard Notes.

I've found it cuts down on the noise of a bookmarks toolbar with hundreds of random items. For my notes, I still have organization by tags for anything I'd like to quickly reference, akin to folders of bookmarks for my browsers.

Give it a try, I hope it helps!