I’ve found some modifications to the standard Johnny.Decimal that I think work better for how my brain is setup, and I wanted to share said modifications with the internet in hopes that they’ll help someone else who’s working with it.
So, we’ll start this off with the basics: What is Johnny.Decimal? It’s a file storage system that uses an area and a category to sort them and make them easy to find. Below those 2 levels, you use an identifier from 00 to 99 to hold each file in place, and maybe provide some extra sorting. You can read more about it here, from the people who did the thing
The problems I had
The problem that I kept running into was over-analyzing what area things went in, making it difficult to actually use the system. Another big one was having to sort everything immediately after creation. Sometimes this was fine, other times I had to figure out if it went into an existing category, or if it needed it’s own, and it drove me up a wall. This is less a denouncement of Johnny.Decimal, and more an extension of my own mental hangups.
So, what will help this? Having a place to temporarily store files that need to be sorted, but I can’t sort right now for one reason or another. J.D does mention this in the blog, however I didn’t commit it to memory the first time. More importantly, I didn’t think of the implications the first time.
So the fix lies in two things I’d casually mentioned earlier: Using the IDs to provide mini-sorting, and using the inbox to hold stuff that isn’t categorized yet.
On the front of the “Unsorted” folder, I’ve used the 9th category in every area as a “Miscellaneous” category, and for the whole system folder 01 has been used as a “Globally unsorted” category.
As things get added to that folder, I treat every 10 IDs as its own area. Do these files have anything to do with each other at all? Some notes I’ve taken about things my partners like, a shopping list, and the house wifi and PC password? Yes. They’re all to do with my personal life, so they’ve been assigned the IDs 00-03. After that we’ve got 10 IDs for knitting, etc.
Once I either run out of 10s to run on, or one group of 10 IDs fills (it did) I turn those 10 IDs into an area and throw all of those files into a category called “x9 - Miscellaneous” where they all then get sorted into more specific groups of 10s. After those fill up I make another category for them to go into. In my games folder this might be my notes on playthroughs of games going together, or notes about games within a genre. If the specific game gets enough notes, I can just move that game into its own category.
This creates a system that fixes the problems I had with the basic J.D system. I don’t like folders with a single file in them, they feel wasted, so in this system the functional minimum for any folder, except area 0 folders, is 10, which feels less bad for me.
At the end of the day, just remember all we’re trying to do here is turn our notes into slightly-less-disorganized clumps of files haphazardly thrown into our computers. If something works for you, great! Share that, it might work for someone else. If this does, great, try it in a separate system for a while.