PARA Part 8: Core Principles of Digital Organization(草稿)

Over the past year, I’ve seen P.A.R.A. implementations of all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen them from every corner of the globe, in languages I don’t even recognize, in at least a dozen different programs, and both digital and physical forms.

Over that time, eight core principles seem to have emerged as fundamental features. Whether you’ve taken on the particularities of the system I’ve described in this series, adopting these principles will seriously upgrade your digital organization.

在过去的一年里,我看到了各种形式和规模的P.A.R.A.实现。我看到了来自全球各个角落的P.A.R.A.的实现,用我不认识的语言,至少有十几种不同的程序,以及数字和物理形式。

在这段时间里,八项核心原则似乎已经作为基本特征出现了。无论你是否接受了我在本系列中描述的系统的特殊性,采用这些原则都会严重提升你的数字化组织。

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Organize by actionability
  2. Organize opportunistically
  3. Move quickly, touch lightly
  4. Controlled randomness
  5. Complex systems have to be grown, not made
  6. Focus on outcomes
  7. Fail gracefully
  8. Shallow hierarchies

  1. 按可操作性组织起来
  2. 适时组织
  3. 动作要快,触摸要轻
  4. 控制性随机性
  5. 复杂的系统必须发展,而不是制造
  6. 注重成果
  7. 优雅地失败
  8. 浅层建筑

I’ve found that all these principles can also be found in how kitchens are organized. Kitchens are the ultimate metaphor for knowledge work, because they too have to deliver finely crafted products to a demanding audience, under intense time pressure.

The three core principles of mise en place, the culinary philosophy used by professional kitchens, are preparationprocess, and presence. The goal is to arrange actions in time and space (preparation) so that the chef can follow a precise series of steps (process) while remaining fully attuned (presence) to the subtleties of each dish.

我发现,所有这些原则也可以从厨房的组织方式中找到。厨房是知识型工作的终极隐喻,因为他们也必须在紧张的时间压力下,将精雕细琢的产品提供给苛刻的观众。

专业厨房使用的烹饪理念--mise en place的三个核心原则是:准备过程存在。其目的是在时间和空间上安排动作(准备),使厨师能够按照一系列精确的步骤(过程),同时保持对每道菜的精妙之处(临场感)。

Organize by actionability按可操作性来组织

This seems to be the big one. You could summarize all of P.A.R.A. with these three words, and have a pretty good rule of thumb for most situations. The “Projects” stack is just another way of saying “most actionable.” “Archives” is “least actionable.” And Areas and Resources are somewhere in between.

Kitchens are clearly not organized by topic: imagine how absurd it would be to store fresh fruit, fruit juice, fruit preserves, and dried fruit all in the same place, just because they all happen to be made of fruit. They are instead organized by actionability: the fresh fruit is kept on the counter because it spoils fast and can be eaten as a snack, whereas the other forms are stored in various states of preservation until they’re ready to be used.

这似乎是个大问题。你可以用这三个字来概括所有的P.A.R.A.,对大多数情况下都有一个相当不错的经验法则。"项目 "堆栈只是 "最可操作 "的另一种说法。"档案 "是 "最不可操作的"。而 "区域 "和 "资源 "则介于两者之间。

厨房显然不是按主题来组织的:想象一下,把新鲜水果、果汁、蜜饯、果脯和干果都放在同一个地方,只是因为它们都是用水果做的,这将是多么荒谬的事情。相反,它们是按照可操作性来组织的:新鲜水果被放在柜台上,因为它变质快,可以当做零食吃,而其他形式的水果则被保存在不同的保存状态中,直到可以使用为止。

Organize opportunistically适时地组织起来

P.A.R.A. is designed to be bottom-up, avoiding expensive heavy lifts at all costs. This is to avoid doing upfront work of questionable value, to avoid sunk costs, and to remain as open as possible to changes in direction.

The same is true for chefs: “cleaning” is not a one-time activity done late at night, with piles and piles of dirty dishes like in the movies. Mise en place is about integrating cleaning into every moment of a chef’s work, peppering the entire day with small actions that maintain the system of organization no matter how crazy things get.

P.A.R.A.的设计是自下而上的,不惜一切代价避免昂贵的重头戏。这样做是为了避免做前期价值有问题的工作,避免沉没成本,尽可能地保持开放的态度,对方向的改变保持开放。

厨师也是如此:"清洁 "不是像电影里那样,在深夜里一次性完成的 "大扫除",堆积如山的脏碗,也不是像电影里那样,一扫而过。 Mise en place是将清洁工作融入到厨师工作的每一个时刻,用小动作点缀一整天,无论事情多么疯狂,都能保持系统的组织性。

Move quickly, touch lightly 动作要快,触摸要轻

Instead of heavy lifts, P.A.R.A. advises us to “move quickly and touch lightly.” This keeps the investment in any given action low, nudging our organizational systems in a certain direction while avoiding total commitment.

The placements of mise en place are similarly designed to allow precise, predictable, and economical actions. We’re not going for an idealized aesthetic beauty, but rather an environment where all our movements can be free, small, rhythmic, and automatic.

P.A.R.A.建议我们 "轻装上阵、轻装上阵、轻装上阵"。这使得任何行动的投入都很低,使我们的组织系统朝着一定的方向发展,同时避免了完全的投入。

错落有致的摆放同样是为了让动作精确、可预测、经济实惠。我们追求的不是理想化的美感,而是一个环境,让我们所有的动作都能自由、小而精、有节奏、有节奏、自动地进行。

Controlled randomness 控制的随机性

P.A.R.A. demands precision in only one very specific place: the definition of projects. Everywhere else, fuzziness is not only allowed but encouraged. It recognizes that imposing order on information doesn’t always make it more valuable. The greatest breakthroughs are usually found in bizarre, unexpected, or counterintuitive connections. This requires a system that allows diverse ideas to mix together.

This is why I don’t advise creating an internal structure for notebooks, using a standardized template for all notes, or even using a common naming convention. Perhaps there is value in these things, but they take up time that is better suited to engaging with the content itself. Allowing some randomness into the system creates opportunities for very different ideas to be juxtaposed or intermixed.

Similarly, chefs distinguish between “process time” and “immersive time.” Many foods require a quick setup, like placing a sauce to simmer so it reduces, but while that’s happening the chef is free to work on things that require their direct involvement. The notebooks of P.A.R.A. are like pots and skillets, sustained chemical reactions that eventually will produce valuable results entirely on their own.

P.A.R.A.A.只在一个非常具体的地方要求精确:项目的定义。在其他地方,模糊性不仅被允许,而且被鼓励。它认识到,将秩序强加于信息并不总是使其更有价值。最大的突破通常是在奇异的、出乎意料的或反直觉的联系中找到的。这就需要一个系统,让不同的想法混合在一起。

这就是为什么我不建议为笔记本创建一个内部结构,不建议为所有的笔记使用一个标准化的模板,甚至不建议使用通用的命名规则。也许这些东西有价值,但它们占用了更适合于参与内容本身的时间。允许一些随机性的东西进入系统中,为非常不同的想法并列或混合创造了机会。

同样,厨师们也区分了 "过程时间 "和 "沉浸式时间"。很多食物需要快速设置,比如把酱料放进锅里炖煮,这样就会减少,但在这时,厨师可以自由地处理需要他们直接参与的事情。P.A.R.A.的笔记本就像锅和烤锅一样,持续的化学反应,最终会完全靠自己的力量产生有价值的结果。

Complex systems have to be grown, not made 复杂的系统会自己发展,不需要去制造

This is a variant of Gall’s Law, which states that “all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked.” In other words, you can’t design a complex system from scratch and expect it to work. Complex systems have to be grown slowly over time, because their interdependencies and variables are too complex to guess correctly the first time.

This is why mise en place is a set of principles, not a universal prescription. It needs to be adapted to the constraints and exceptions of each kitchen, because “economical” and “efficient” have different meanings depending on the context.

Similarly, P.A.R.A. cannot be deployed all at once. It needs to start as a small seed that gradually unfurls and evolves to meet the changing needs of its designer. This is why I avoid showing too much of my own system – it has grown to a certain level of sophistication over years. Going straight to this level of maturity would be counterproductive for any novice.

这是盖尔定律的一个变体,即 "所有能起作用的复杂系统都是从起作用的较简单系统演化而来的"。换句话说,你不能从零开始设计一个复杂的系统,并期望它能成功。复杂的系统必须随着时间的推移慢慢成长,因为它们之间的相互依存关系和变量太复杂了,第一次就无法正确猜测。

这也是为什么mise en place是一套原则,而不是万能的药方。它需要根据每个厨房的限制和例外情况进行调整,因为 "经济 "和 "高效 "根据不同的环境有不同的含义。

同样的,P.A.R.A.R.A.也不能一下子就部署好。它需要从一个小小的种子开始,逐渐展开,并根据设计者不断变化的需求进行演化。这也是我避免过多展示自己的系统的原因--经过多年的发展,它已经成熟到了一定的程度。直接进入到这个成熟的程度,对于任何一个新手来说都会适得其反。

Focus on outcomes 注重成果

One of the biggest temptations with organizing is to get too precious, treating the process of organizing as an end in itself. There is something inherently satisfying about order, and it’s easy to settle for that payoff, instead of going on to share our knowledge with the world.

Everything in P.A.R.A. is subordinated to the outcome of getting things done. All upfront, extraneous tasks are stripped away, there is no routine maintenance work required, and the most actionable category of projects is closely guarded from interference.

In mise en place, everything is similarly centered around the outcome of a finished plate. Envisioning the moment of delivery and walking backward, the method seeks to eliminate everything that doesn’t advance the dish, for example:

  • tying up tasks in a state that is easy to pick up again
  • scheduling complex tasks and fitting others around them
  • communicating progress to everyone who is depending on it
  • always unblocking what is keeping you or others from moving forward

整理的最大诱惑之一就是太过珍视,把整理的过程当作目的。秩序有一种与生俱来的满足感,我们很容易满足于这种回报,而不是去与世界分享我们的知识。

P.A.R.A.中的一切都服从于完成事情的结果。所有前期的、不相干的任务都被剥离掉了,不需要日常的维护工作,最可操作的项目类别被严密防范,不受干扰。

mise en place中,所有的事情同样围绕着一个完成的盘子的结果为中心。设想交付的时刻,走回头路,这种方法力求消除一切不能推进盘子的东西,比如说。

  • 将任务捆绑在一个很容易再拿起的状态下,将任务捆绑起来
  • 排列复杂的任务,并围绕着这些任务来安排和配合其他人
  • 向所有依赖它的人传达进展情况
  • 疏通阻碍自己或他人前进的东西

Fail gracefully 优雅地失败

P.A.R.A. is designed around the needs of real humans, not idealized ones. It recognizes that maintaining files will not usually be our top priority, so it needs to be able to survive long periods of neglect as we attend to other things.

The fact that keeping different programs in sync requires manually retitling and resorting folders and notebooks may seem like a flaw. But in fact it can be seen as a strength: because P.A.R.A. is neither centralized nor decentralized, but federated, it doesn’t need to be perfectly maintained like a well-oiled machine. I’ve found that the folders can drift apart for months with no real impact on my productivity.

The same applies to the decision where to keep notes. Because we have multiple mechanisms for constantly flowing notes between notebooks, the decision is very forgiving. There are backup plans and safety nets at every stage. If you misplace a note for now, it is only a matter of time before it gets resurfaced.

This is where mise en place takes an unexpected turn. Despite the emphasis on process, it also strongly advocates for communication, teamwork, and treating each other with care. It advises maintaining one stream of communication in the kitchen, using a common language and double confirmations for accuracy. In the kitchen it is people who catch us when we fall.

P.A.R.A. 是围绕着真正的人类需求而设计的,而不是理想化的需求。它认识到维护文件通常不会是我们的首要任务,所以它需要在我们处理其他事情时,能够经得起长时间的忽视。

事实上,保持不同的程序同步,需要手动重命名和诉诸文件夹和笔记本,这似乎是个缺陷。但事实上,它可以被看作是一个优点:因为P.A.R.A.既不是集中式的,也不是分散式的,而是联邦式的,所以它不需要像一台运转良好的机器一样完美地维护。我发现这些文件夹可以在个月的时间里飘散开来,对我的工作效率没有任何实际影响。

同样的道理也适用于决定把笔记放在哪里。因为我们有多种机制在笔记本之间不断地流动笔记,所以这个决定是非常宽容的。每个阶段都有备份计划和安全网。如果你暂时放错了一个笔记,那么它被重新浮现出来只是时间问题。

这时候,mise en place 的地方就会出现意想不到的转折。尽管强调过程,但它也极力主张沟通、团队合作、彼此关爱。它建议在厨房中保持单流沟通,使用共同的语言和双重确认的准确性。在厨房里,当我们跌倒的时候,接住我们的是人。

Shallow hierarchies 浅层次

One of the biggest differences between P.A.R.A. and other organizational schemes is its shallow depth. The infinite vertical nesting of file systems is replaced with the horizontal movement of project turnover, like a conveyer belt. Instead of getting shuffled to ever greater depths, where we lose sight of them, files are shuffled from actionable notebooks into the Archives.

There is a parallel here to the visual layout of dishes, which is an important part of mise en place. Chefs are advised to use any free time to clean their workstation and pre-prepare any ingredients they’ll need in the future. This is where the focus on outcomes is so important: because counter space (like screen space) is limited, knowing which dishes need to be laid out depends entirely on the dishes to be prepared. What allows us to get away with shallow hierarchies is that we can store the great majority of ingredients out of sight.

P.A.R.A.与其他组织方案最大的区别之一就是它的浅层次。文件系统的无限垂直嵌套,被项目周转的水平运动所取代,就像传送带一样,无限垂直的文件系统被取代。文件不是被洗牌到越来越深的深度,而不是被洗牌到我们看不见的地方,而是被洗牌的文件从可操作的笔记本进入档案室。

这里有一个平行于菜品的视觉布局,这是重要的部分,也是重要的部分。建议厨师们利用任何空闲时间清理工作站,并预先准备好将来需要的食材。这就是注重结果的地方:因为柜台空间(如屏幕空间)是有限的,要知道*需要摆放哪些菜品,完全取决于要准备的菜品。让我们能够摆脱浅层次的是,我们可以将绝大部分的食材存放在视线之外。

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Starting over is magical 重新开始是很神奇的

When I was in high school, I had a business fixing people’s Windows computers. I would drive around in my little Honda Civic, applying the same solution every time: formatting their hard drive and reinstalling my bootlegged copy of Windows XP. This gave me several hours of free time, which I often spent talking to my customers and hearing how they thought about technology. I soon transitioned to teaching people how to use their computers, including tasks as simple as checking their email, visiting webpages, and creating Word documents.

当我还在读高中的时候,我有个业务,就是修别人的Windows电脑。我开着我的小本田思域,每次都会开着我的小本田思域,应用同样的解决方案:格式化他们的硬盘,并重新安装我的Windows XP的盗版拷贝。这给了我几个小时的空闲时间,我经常和客户聊天,听听他们对技术的看法。我很快就过渡到教别人如何使用电脑,包括检查电子邮件、访问网页和创建Word文档这样简单的任务。

A few years later, in college, I worked at an Apple Store in San Diego. I listened to customers’ needs and helped them buy a computer, and became very familiar with the thought process they went through in spending a couple thousand dollars on a machine. I later started teaching classes on how to use Apple computers, and did 1-on-1 personal training sessions.

Throughout this time, I noticed a common theme: the moment of starting over is magical. Whether it was getting a newly reformatted PC, or a brand new Mac, I sensed an enormous sense of relief and happiness as the slate was wiped clean. People often would feel a profound rush of creative energy, as they were unburdened from years of digital hoarding.

几年后,在大学期间,我在圣地亚哥的一家苹果商店工作。我倾听顾客的需求,帮助他们买电脑,对他们花几千块钱买一台机器所经历的思考过程非常熟悉。后来,我开始讲授苹果电脑的使用方法,并进行一对一的个人培训。

在这段时间里,我注意到一个共同的主题:重新开始的那一刻是很神奇的。不管是刚换上新的电脑,还是全新的Mac,我都能感受到一种巨大的解脱和幸福感,因为我的电脑被擦干净了。人们往往会感到一种创作的激情澎湃,因为多年的数码囤积,让人卸下了沉重的负担。

At some point I started thinking, “What would it look like to design an organizational system completely around the feeling of starting over?” The ideal time to “start over” seemed to be when completing a project, so I made projects the basic unit of organization. Areas and Resources quickly emerged as I realized there were ongoing responsibilities and interests that I wanted to remain consistent over time.

The only downside to starting over, of course, was that I lost the work I’d already done. Slowly, I realized that this could be turned to my advantage. I began finishing every project by exporting or publishing one tangible artifact as a takeaway. This was the golden era of Apple’s iLife suite of creative apps, and I pushed iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb to their full potential. Every project I worked on ended by exporting a slideshow, video, audio track, photo book, DVD, or website, which were far more valuable to me than all the bits and pieces I used to put them together.

在某个时候,我开始思考,"如果完全围绕着重新开始的感觉设计一个组织体系,会是什么样子?" "重新开始 "的理想时机似乎是在完成一个项目时,所以我把项目作为基本的组织单位。领域和资源很快就出现了,因为我意识到有一些正在进行的责任和兴趣,我想在一段时间内保持一致。

当然,重新开始的唯一缺点是,我失去了我已经完成的工作。慢慢地,我意识到这可以变成我的优势。我开始通过导出或发布一个个有形的神器作为外卖来完成每个项目。这是苹果公司iLife套件创意应用的黄金时代,我将iMovie、iPhoto、iDVD、GarageBand和iWeb推到了极致。我的每一个项目都是通过导出幻灯片、视频、音轨、照片书、DVD或网站来结束的,对我来说,这些对我来说远比我用来拼凑这些东西的碎片更有价值。

I noticed that once the final export was complete, and I’d gotten the payoff of showing it to my friends or family, I could wrap up all the constituent parts in one big folder, and move them wholesale to an archive folder. There was no need to further organize or catalogue anything in there, because it was rare for me to ever open it up again. On occasion when I did, everything was preserved exactly how I’d left it, so there was no downside.

Starting over has major costs in physical work, because it’s wasteful to destroy or set aside raw materials. But not in digital, where saving a folder forever is virtually free. As technology evolves, it actually becomes easier to search or visualize these old files.

Beyond just serving as mementos, the tangible artifacts I created started having a tremendous impact on my life, my career, and how I thought about the impact I could have. A photo slideshow set to music I made for Christmas brought my mom to tears. A movie I made of a vacation became a cherished family treasure. A website I made for fun in iWeb became a critical asset in my dad’s business.

我注意到,一旦最终的导出完成,并得到了给朋友或家人看的回报,我就可以把所有的组成部分打包在一个大文件夹里,然后把它们批发到一个存档文件夹里。没有必要在那里进一步整理或编目,因为我很少再打开它。偶尔打开的时候,所有的东西都是按原样保存,所以没有什么坏处。

在实体作品中,重新开始是有很大的成本的,因为销毁或搁置原材料是一种浪费。但在数字时代就不一样了,在这里,永远保存一个文件夹几乎是免费的。随着技术的发展,实际上,搜索或可视化这些旧文件变得更加容易。

除了作为纪念品之外,我所创造的有形文物开始对我的生活、我的事业以及我对自己可能产生的影响的思考方式产生了巨大的影响。我为圣诞节制作的一张照片幻灯片,配上音乐,让我的母亲流下了眼泪。我在一次度假时拍的一部电影成了我的家庭珍宝。我在iWeb上做的一个好玩的网站,成了爸爸事业上的一笔重要财富。

Eventually, I gained the confidence to ask for something in exchange. I sold an ebook compilation of blog posts as a fundraiser for a project in the Peace Corps. I created a portfolio website that helped me get my first job in San Francisco. And one day in 2013, I combined all these creative production skills to launch my first online course, Get Stuff Done Like a Boss, charging $25 for the first product from Forte Labs.

Here’s a thought experiment: what would you do if all your digital files were automatically erased every year? No matter which backup solutions you employed, it would all be gone when the clock struck midnight on December 31.

I think you would start putting a lot more effort into showing your work. You would spend the absolute minimum amount of time gathering research and raw material, and more time sharing your knowledge and helping people solve real problems. I think you would get a lot less particular about your organizational hierarchies, which note-taking app you use, or the endless debates about plain text versus rich text.

最后,我终于有了信心要求交换一些东西。我卖掉了一本电子书的博客文章汇编,作为和平队的一个项目的筹款人。我创建了一个作品集网站,帮助我在旧金山找到了第一份工作。而在2013年的某一天,我将所有这些创意制作技能结合起来,推出了我的第一门在线课程《像老板一样完成工作》(Get Stuff Done Like a Boss),从Forte Labs的第一个产品收费25美元。

这里有一个思考实验:如果你的所有数字文件每年都被自动删除,你会怎么做?无论你使用哪种备份方案,当12月31日午夜时分,所有文件都会消失。

我想你会开始投入更多的精力来展示你的作品。你会花最少的时间去收集研究和原材料,而更多的时间去分享你的知识,帮助人们解决实际问题。我想你会变得不那么在意你的组织层次,不那么在意你用的是哪个记事软件,也不那么在意纯文本和富文本的争论不休。

I think the world would be a much better place if all these things came to pass. And I can hardly think of a downside. It sure seems like our perfect digital memory is both a blessing and a curse. It frees us from the burden of forgetfulness, only to imprison us with perfectionism.

The promise of P.A.R.A. is that it makes “getting organized” a straightforward affair to get over with as quickly as possible. My wish is that the smart, creative people of the world spend less time behind their computer screens, and more time taking direct action in the world. We need people who are empowered and propelled forward by their creative process, not consumed by it. Our talents and knowledge are sorely needed in the real world.

我想,如果这些事情都能实现,世界会变得更加美好。而我几乎想不出有什么坏处。果然,我们完美的数字记忆既是一种幸福,也是一种诅咒。它把我们从遗忘的负担中解脱出来,只是用完美主义来禁锢我们。

P.A.R.A.的承诺是,它让 "整理 "成为了一件直截了当的事情,让我们尽快的搞定。我的愿望是,世界上聪明的、有创造力的人少花点时间在电脑屏幕后面,多花点时间在世界上直接行动。我们需要的是有能力的人,他们的创作过程会让他们有能力并推动他们前进,而不是被他们的创作过程所消耗。我们的人才和知识在现实世界中非常需要。

PARA Part 8: Core Principles of Digital Organization(EN)