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Developing your own system

To develop your own system, it should now be clear that you need to:

  • Break everything up in to, at most, ten areas.
  • Break those areas up in to, at most, ten categories.
  • Assign numbers to those areas and categories.
  • Start creating items and assigning Johnny.Decimal IDs.
  • Track your numbers somewhere.

It’s not much more complicated than that.

Advice: don’t rush the process

I’ve done this a lot now and the best piece of advice I can give is: take your time.

When you start a new system—let’s say you start a new job—you don’t know what you don’t know. It takes time to recognise patterns and understand the scope of the task at hand.

If you rush in, you’ll create categories that are too broad or narrow. You’ll mis-categorise things. You’ll end up having to change it later, which is possible, but a pain.

Think on it for a week

I believe you should think on any new Johnny.Decimal system for at least a week.

This thing will be with you for a long time; don’t rush it.

Use sticky notes or a mind map

During this week, write everything that you do on a sticky note. Use many sticky notes.

When you think you’ve got a good sample of what you do, group them together in to categories first, and then group those categories in to areas.

Alternatively, use mind mapping software. MindNode is amazing.

Step 1: just write down everything you do. Don’t try to organise it.

Mind map showing step 1, disorganised data

Step 2: group all of those things together to create your categories.

Mind map showing step 2, grouping things in to categories

Step 3: group those categories together to create your areas.

Mind map showing step 3, grouping categories in to areas

Leave room to grow

After almost 3 years managing a complex IT project, I had used about 30 categories across 7 areas. Don’t create areas and categories for the sake of it.

Ask for help

I’ll help! Get in touch.