How To Organise Your Notes: The GAPRA Method.

Carl Pullein
4 min readApr 24, 2024


In today’s digital age, the sheer volume of information we encounter can be overwhelming. Whether it’s meeting notes, personal projects or creative endeavours, managing digital notes has become valuable for productivity and effectiveness. Yet, the challenge lies not in doing the work itself but in organising our notes effectively so they are useful to us and reduce the time it takes to find the information we need when we need it.

I struggled for years with various organisational systems for my digital notes, only to find them overly complex and time-consuming. I tried Michael Hyatt’s Evernote structure, Zettlekasten and, more recently, Tiago Forte’s PARA system.

Over the past few months, I went on a journey to discover a better way to manage digital notes that would streamline the process without sacrificing their usefulness.

It’s been a fascinating journey, and I’ve been down many rabbit holes, many of which were more about tools than methods. Tools can help, but if you focus on finding the right tool, you miss the more important area of how you will structure the tool you ultimately decide upon.

What I stumbled upon was not a revolutionary concept but rather a timeless system used by national archives worldwide: provenance, categories, and series. This system, which has stood the test of time, provides a framework for organising documents efficiently. And if it’s good enough for the UK, Australian and US National Archives, then I knew it would be robust enough to manage my digital information needs for many years.

My own organisational system (developed haphazardly over the last three years) GAPRA — Goals, Areas of Focus, Projects, Resources, and Archive aligns seamlessly with the provenance/categories/series-based approach. Each category serves a distinct purpose, enabling easy filing and retrieval of notes whenever needed.

For instance, in the goals category, you track your current goals. The areas of focus category keeps information related to your eight areas of focus. Projects is where you manage your projects, and the resources and archive categories manage your interests, past and current.

The majority of existing notes applications have powerful search built in. This makes retrieving the information you want when you want it effortless.

To take advantage of these search features, it’s important to have some information on which to base your search criteria. Adding a picture of a menu you want to keep would not be useful if the title of the note created is “IMG9753”. Taking a few seconds to give the note a title such as “La Maison Rose Cafe, Eiffel Tower, Paris Menu” means even in five years, you would be able to find the note simply by searching for “Paris cafe” as those two words are in the title.

A well-structured set of notes also allows you to tap into your creativity. While many notes applications today will make connections between notes for you using AI, these connections will be simple and largely obvious. AI has not advanced sufficiently enough to understand you, how you think, and know about your life experiences and knowledge.

Your unique knowledge base and life experience will make non-obvious connections between your notes. Yet, to do so, you need to see your notes randomly. This is where your archive becomes incredibly powerful as it is a random collection of information you have found helpful over time and, when seen together, can spark unique connections that only you can see.

Over the last few years in my coaching programmes, one of the most consistent areas I have been helping people is with their knowledge management practices. The two most common problem areas have been disorganisation and complex structures. What GAPRA does is bring a happy balance between the two.

The dynamic parts of your notes — goals, projects and resources- are structured for quick retrieval. The less dynamic parts — your areas of focus and archive- support you when you need to review what matters most to you or tap into your creativity.

With these insights, I created a solution to empower my clients and students to master digital notes organisation effortlessly. The result? My brand-new course, Mastering Digital Notes Organisation.”

This comprehensive course goes beyond theory; it offers practical guidance on structuring your notes app, understanding each category’s significance, and helping you to curate a rich archive of information for future reference. Moreover, it introduces you to powerful tagging techniques to expedite note retrieval and provides a streamlined process for maintaining up-to-date notes with minimal effort.

Imagine having a beautifully organised set of notes tailored to your needs, readily accessible whenever inspiration strikes or projects demand attention. That’s the purpose of this brand-new course.

If you’re tired of wasting time searching for scattered notes or struggling with complex organisational systems, this course is your solution. Join me on this journey to digital notes mastery, and transform the way you work and create.

And here’s the exciting part: for a limited time, you can enrol in the course at a discounted rate of $39.99, down from the usual price of $59.99.

Don’t miss this opportunity to revolutionise your digital notes management and unlock your full productivity and creative potential.

Learn more about this new course right here →

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Carl Pullein

I help people learn to manage their lives and time better so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of.