Tiago Forte’s PARA system - explained in Notion

Feb 12 '22 • Written by Yassen Shopov
📖 - - - minute read

Tiago Forte is a productivity expert and modern thinker, most notorious for the creation of Forte Labs and his course “Building a Second Brain“.

You may not be personally familiar with the concept of a second brain, but there is a high chance you’re using one already. A second brain can be defined as “an external, centralized, digital repository for the things you learn and the resources from which they come“ [1]

While maybe not in the most ideal setting, and not on purpose, we all store our ideas and data digitally. Your shopping list, your list of movies to watch in the future, your notes from lectures - those are all examples of unintentional use of a second brain.

Now, if you want to get the full benefits of Tiago’s second brain system, you need to be able to manage several aspects of your knowledge work/personal life in one digital system. In my case, I try to manage 90% of my daily tasks, notes, concepts, pipelines, digital products, appointments, etc in Notion, as I have explained over here with my new and updated morning routine. I find it very seamless to switch between tasks when they all live in the same app (and the same digital ecosystem). For you, it could be a solution to combine Microsoft Excel, Word, and other apps. Other apps such as Obsidian and Roam are also popular for keeping track of one’s personal knowledge management.

Okay, so, so far we have explained what a second brain is - a digital system to collect and organise all your learned information. But what exactly is Tiago Forte’s PARA framework for digital organisation and how can we apply it in Notion? Well, let’s break it down:

The PARA framework

Overall, if the Second Brain is the collection of apps and trackers that we use to keep our data in one place, what is PARA? Well, it’s the organisational structure in your digital system. Instead of bulk depositing data to an excel spreadsheet, it makes much more sense to create an organisation for your documents, data, ideas, that makes sense to you even when you forget what the initial idea was when you first wrote it down.

P - Projects

A - Area of Responsibility

R - Resources

A - Archive

This is the final hallmark of a good-working Second Brain system - the ability to archive. It seems obvious at first, but many systems either have limited capacity and end up deleting very old content or just don’t differentiate it from the active, current content well enough.'


[1] Forte, T. (2022). Building a Second Brain: An Overview - Forte Labs. Forte Labs. Retrieved 13 February 2022, from https://fortelabs.co/blog/basboverview/

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by Tiago Forte