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  • Ex-PDA user seeks new paper organiser with GSOH

    Hello all,

    I'm in dire need of some assistance.

    I love the IDEA of having a stress-free life by implementing GTD, either using a PDA or paper-based, but when it comes to actually doing something, I procrastinate or get bored very easily.

    I am a freelance writer, and have suffered recently with confidence in myself and my abilities as a writer. The procrastination I think comes from this, and getting bored comes from not enjoying the way I organise myself, which at the moment is non-existent to say the least.

    I have purchased, and subsequently sold, over 22 Pocket PCs and Palms during the last 6 years. 22! That's an awful lot of money I've wasted, not to mention the time it took to transfer data, evaluate software, etc. But I've only really ever used PDAs as a calendar and contacts database, and also a place to store lists.

    Recently, in order to get me back into 'writery' mode and restore my confidence, I have felt an urge to go back to using pen and paper for everything I do - getting rid of a PDA altogether. I purchased a number of Moleskine notebooks, which have really brought back the writer in me. I keep different ruled/squared/blank Moleskines for different writings such as; article ideas, short stories, and journalling. I've stuck a small coloured sticker on the front and side of each notebook to identify it easily (as they all look the same). I also purchased a couple of beautiful Cross Ion pens. All this is really making me happy and working well from a personal viewpoint. However, I have no idea how to handle my basic organising; calendar, list making, tasks, etc., for my professional life, now that I no longer wish to use a PDA.

    My brain says to stay with a PDA for the basic PIM stuff, but I'm afraid to go back to using a PDA in fear of prolonging this horrible 'lazy' state I've found myself in for the last 10 months or so. Maybe I'm not using the PDA in a way that excites me? Lists are a big thing for me though, and a PDA has always been good at storing these.

    Basically, I want to cut down on my computer usage altogether. Only using a PC for when I have to submit articles or check email. And not using a PDA at all.

    Can it be done though? Can you successfully move back to paper from a using a PDA for 6 years? Apologies if all this HAS already been answered elsewhere on this site (and if I've waffled on a bit), but I just had to put my thoughts out into the universe!

    Thanks for reading this,
    Barry

  • #2
    Basically, I want to cut down on my computer usage altogether. Only using a PC for when I have to submit articles or check email. And not using a PDA at all.
    I am not a professional writer but using computer for writing is a huge productivity boost since I do not have to rewrite everything when I am restructuring or editing text.
    TesTeq

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by TesTeq
      I am not a professional writer but using computer for writing is a huge productivity boost since I do not have to rewrite everything when I am restructuring or editing text.
      TesTeq
      I'm not a professional writer either but I've noticed that the quality of my writing is better when the first draft (or two) when it's made on paper.

      Comment


      • #4
        You can make the switch, although you need to be aware that there is a bit of a re-learning curve associated with this type of change.

        I bought a Time Design system that is working out well for me. I put all of my GTD tasks stuff on paper using my word processor, and my calendar items go on the paper calendars provided by the company.

        The change can be done, but it takes awhile to make the mental as well as physical switch completely.

        Keep your PDA to house all your articles, files, and other storage material you may wish to carry with you when you travel or are out of the office.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm not a professional writer either, but I do enjoy writing and regularly write papers for college (usually one a week). I'm also a techy, so that might bias my opinion somewhat.

          Both computers and paper have their advantages and disadvantages. For me computers are great because they allow me to get the ideas out without worrying about organization. When I'm sitting in front of a piece of paper, I feel I need to get it right the first time (not sure what the psychological barrier is there, but it's not a big deal to me at this time). However, I find paper is great for getting that "artistic feel" into my writing. Paper is also great from a power (i.e. none required) and portability perspective, however the size of some modern notebook computers mitigate that issue somewhat.

          Basically, it's whatever works to get you writing. If paper and pen do it for you, by all means use it. I certainly wouldn't try to use a PDA to write a paper, but I would and do use one to maintain my lists, notes, contacts, etc. Most of my "professional" writing I do on a laptop (you'd be amazed how free you feel with a laptop and wireless ethernet), but most of my recreational writing (journal, etc) I do on paper. Also, if you're writing something that you might want to authenticate later, these might be better done on paper in your own handwriting.

          From your article, it sounds to me like there may be a deeper issue here you need to deal with. You appear to be concerned with the amount of money you spent on PDAs in the last 6 years, then you've turned around to purchase a number of the most expensive notebooks I've ever seen (Granted, they're not as expensive as PDAs, but still...). Perhaps you just need to figure out how to use technology to your advantage. That can be difficult, as technology use tends to be a very personal thing. All I can suggest there is to stick with one thing for a while (a year or two at least), keep it simple (no extra apps, if possible), and pay attention to how you're actually using it as well as how you'd like to use it.

          Just my thoughts.

          Comment


          • #6
            Guest wrote:
            I'm not a professional writer either but I've noticed that the quality of my writing is better when the first draft (or two) when it's made on paper.
            I agree that using computer affects writing quality because many people are not motivated to proof-read their creations more than once.
            TesTeq

            Comment


            • #7
              GTD for writers

              This may be helpful to you. I do write for a living (I'm a catalog manager) and have evolved this system since starting the job. I do use a Palm, but I think the way I use it may be helpful to you.

              I've been doing the Artist's Way morning pages every morning, which helps a lot with being able to write when I need to. On Monday mornings, instead of my usual pages, I do my Weekly Review. I go through my calendar, lists, projects, and I do a collection process at that time. While I use my Palm for my calendar, I also have a list called Hard Landscape, as a tickler for upcoming events. I review the calendar and my context lists (which I keep in a This Week category) every morning.

              I have found that, when you are pingponging back and forth between software, devices and systems, it means that you don't have a system you really trust. You are using that changeover as a quick fix for not having the habits that are the core of GTD. You'll continue to find everything you use to be unsatisfying, until you start doing a weekly review, separating the collection/processing phases, and writing actions that you can really DO. You can do the core GTD stuff on anything. The only way that it will work is if you develop the habits that will make it work on any media.

              Do a full blown, from the start weekly review. Just do a collection process and make sure that you keep it separate from the processing/organizing phase. Make sure that the only thing that you keep on your calendar (whether it be a paper one or a Hard Landscape list) is stuff that has to be done on that day. Make sure that you have everything in your system and not in your head. Do the basics and reread the book if you need a refresher. It will get you a lot farther along than playing around with something new to write stuff in.[/b]

              Comment


              • #8
                I have to say teripittman's post is a terrific one and definitely something you might consider. It's great to have elegant inspiring items to work with, just as it's great to have an uncluttered inspirational place to sit and come up with ideas and do your actual writing. But it sounds as though something is missing in your process, and that sounds like the Weekly Review - that tying together of your plans and processes with those concrete next steps that will put you back into writing with a purpose. There is nothing wrong with using a PDA solely for contacts, calendar and lists. That is where they excel. Getting yourself to the point where you know what to do, and when to do it is where the GTD process excels. That 'lazy' state you mention is where it's simply going to take will power and determination to as David puts it. "DO it." Without "doing", GTD just takes up time out of the day. Don't let perfectionism get in your way. Many people stop at the "doing" because the time or place or circumstances aren't perfect. You've gone to so much trouble to have beautiful elegant things. You can do it! You can be the writer you were and/or probably the better one you are today.

                Go back and re-read GTD. I know I always get something new each time I do. Or try one of these two auxiliary books I would recommend to writers and artists. Take what makes sense from them as well as GTD. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

                Good luck!
                Elena in Tx, USA

                Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl & Dolores Cotter Lamping, C.S.W.
                http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...ce&s=books

                File Don't Pile!: For People Who Write by Pat Dorff
                http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...ce&s=books

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Ex-PDA user seeks new paper organiser with GSOH

                  Originally posted by Barrance
                  Can it be done though? Can you successfully move back to paper from a using a PDA for 6 years? Apologies if all this HAS already been answered elsewhere on this site (and if I've waffled on a bit), but I just had to put my thoughts out into the universe!
                  Hi Barry!

                  I'm not a writer either, but used a Pocket PC and Palm for several years. I'm a techie at heart and love computers. However, I switched a couple of years ago to a paper based system and have never regretted it. PC and Palm are terrific, but I needed something away from computers since I was using them so much. I needed the variety.

                  I type my calendar, tasks, etc. in MS Outlook so that I have a backup in case something happens to my planner. (You should always have some sort of backup.) I think once you start using the planner, especially a Moleskin, you'll get the hang of it really quick. Some people just aren't cut out for Palms and maybe that's you. No big deal. Use what works for you, that's important plus you'll be more productive.

                  You might want to consider starting simple: One page per day for a calendar, putting your tasks and/or Next Actions on that page to tell you what to accomplish each day. You can use the same page for notes so you have a reference of what happens and also ideas you may have. It can act like a portable Inbox. One place for everything.

                  I hope this helps. Just try to relax and let your mind tell you what it wants to do.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    More GTD tips

                    Here's the thing that it took me awhile to learn about GTD: the habits are the structure for your system. There is no magic notebook, PIM or device that is going to organize you. You have to develop the habits to get stuff into your system ASAP. And the really tough trick is that you have to really think about this stuff up front. You need to decide if you are dealing with a project, and if so, what does done look like? What actions do you need to do to get there?

                    I think the best thing you can do, when you find yourself flipping back and forth between systems is to re-read the book. Look at the system as a series of habits and try to figure out where you are falling down. Print out a copy of the flow chart and put it in front of you so that you can refer to it whenever you are entering stuff into your system.

                    The thing that helped me the most was a description from a black belt GTD'er about how he handled paper crossing his desk. He had the folders ready, labelled it immediately, set up a tickler for the item, filed it and was done. It impressed me a lot, as I could see that it was really a series of habits that let him get back to ready so quickly. You are the only person who can decide how to file stuff so you can find it, how to create a shorthand reference to the projects you have and the people you deal with. You need to find a way to enter stuff that makes sense to you. I'd bet that you've been using some of this already and can bring it from the PDA world into your paper system. You just want to get to the point where you spend your time thinking about your "stuff" and not where you are keeping it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey go for it!

                      The best part of the GTD philosophy is that its not a system, its a developed set of habits and is adaptable to any system.

                      But you knew that already.

                      Perhaps the most down to earth implementation of GTD, to date has been the "Hipster PDA" on Merlin Mann's web site (http://merlin.blogs.com/43folders/20...ucing_the.html).

                      Essentially it a bunch of 3x5 cards and some mini bulldog clips.

                      Its nothing new, I used the cards for years in college for research papers (when PC's had 5" floppies and were rare!). But the PC and the PDA have put the little cards in the dusty shelf section of Staples. Now as its cool/Hip to be different this implementation is certainly the antithesis of the PDA.

                      Yep I have started to use them again. And its the quickest way to empty "stuff" out from my head. For example on Sunday, was reading the paper and I grabbed a stack of the cards and placed them by me. As I read the paper, connections from relevant articles and how they applied to my life sprang up. Earlier, I'd obesses over one idea and never get though the paper, but this time I jotted down the thought, one per card, and went on reading. I generated about 20 thoughts and tossed them into the inbox. But the big thing was that I actually got through the paper and enjoyed the experience!.

                      I also have a bunch of new thoughts, lists, next actions and SomeDay/maybe projects to consider, but they are not lost...

                      Even my kids got into it and doodled on some of the cards. I asked them to make pictures of our house, our family, daddy at work and other pictures to use as dividers. These dividers further act as the reminder of the 50,000 foot life goals for which these next actions and projects work towards.

                      Another cool thing about the system it the gratification generated by the tactile sensation one gets when you tear up a completed Next Action card. Ya cant get that with a PDA checkbox.

                      I'm not saying this is going to beat the procrastination bug but it may help your muse as you write your lists, next actions, consider the project outcomes, and yes doodle.

                      Ive also been hauling around my copy of GTD in my backpack. Its the one of my primary Read&Review items. I'm always rediscovering more gems in the system to help my habits.

                      Good Luck!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        For example on Sunday, was reading the paper and I grabbed a stack of the cards and placed them by me. As I read the paper, connections from relevant articles and how they applied to my life sprang up. Earlier, I'd obesses over one idea and never get though the paper, but this time I jotted down the thought, one per card, and went on reading. I generated about 20 thoughts and tossed them into the inbox. But the big thing was that I actually got through the paper and enjoyed the experience!.

                        What a great idea. Thanks for the tip!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gameboy70
                          For example on Sunday, was reading the paper and I grabbed a stack of the cards and placed them by me. As I read the paper, connections from relevant articles and how they applied to my life sprang up. Earlier, I'd obesses over one idea and never get though the paper, but this time I jotted down the thought, one per card, and went on reading. I generated about 20 thoughts and tossed them into the inbox. But the big thing was that I actually got through the paper and enjoyed the experience!.

                          What a great idea. Thanks for the tip!
                          Goodness! What I would like to know is what happens to those 20 "ideas" later on? Sometimes I wonder if the compulsion to record every thought and idea doesn't create a sort of self-imposed information overload. I've found that one challenge to GTD is that I end up with not only lists of all the things I must do, but a zillion someday/maybes that I hate to wade through because I can't bring myself to give up on my hopes and ideas (yes, I still want to learn Spanish, write a book, invent a device, etc.). By collecting every idea, do you run the risk of gumming up your mental process by having to re-process ideas over and over again just because you wrote them down and committed them to your system?

                          What things are not meant to be remembered?

                          C

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Goodness! What I would like to know is what happens to those 20 "ideas" later on?

                            Possibly nothing. Discarding the ideas is a perfectly valid option. It's really up to the processor. But the important thing is to get the information out of your head so that you can move on in your reading without experiencing the cognitive reverberation of what you just read, as Louie pointed out: "Earlier, I'd obesses over one idea and never get though the paper, but this time I jotted down the thought, one per card, and went on reading."

                            Or possibly something. Goethe used to write down his observations and reflections on whatever scraps of paper he could find, and throw them in a drawer. Then he would regularly go to this drawer, go through each note, and figure out how he could adapt it, integrate it or expand on it (books like Italian Journey, Elective Affinities, Maxims and Reflections were largely composed with this method).

                            Other than intellectual vanity, what is the point of reading the paper if your're not going to do something with the information in it?

                            Sometimes I wonder if the compulsion to record every thought and idea doesn't create a sort of self-imposed information overload.

                            Your standard of what constitutes compulsion seems rather arbitrary. You could just as easily say that the need to read the paper every day is itself a sort of self-imposed information overload.

                            I'll tell you what information overload is: trying to keep that informaton in your head. The cure: getting it out of your head.

                            I've found that one challenge to GTD is that I end up with not only lists of all the things I must do, but a zillion someday/maybes that I hate to wade through because I can't bring myself to give up on my hopes and ideas (yes, I still want to learn Spanish, write a book, invent a device, etc.). By collecting every idea, do you run the risk of gumming up your mental process by having to re-process ideas over and over again just because you wrote them down and committed them to your system?

                            Interesting. I have precisely the opposite experience with the Someday/Maybe list. Everything I put on it I feel relieved about because I'm not keeping it in my head. I feel no obligation to do anything with my Someday/Maybes other than review them. The more stuff I put there, the less "stuff" it becomes.

                            Let's be clear about this. You can either consciously reprocess your Someday/Maybes once a week, or unconsciously reprocess them 24/7 in your head. Just because you don't write your ideas down doesn't mean they're not gumming up your mental processes. I'd rather objectify them, acklowledge them, respectfully defer them, and get on with my life.

                            What things are not meant to be remembered?

                            The things you write down. That's the point of writing them down.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What things are not meant to be remembered?

                              The things you write down. That's the point of writing them down.

                              -----

                              Thanks I couldn't have said it any better.


                              BTW, I did throw out some of the cards like the ones about buying shoes for the kids (Payless had an ad) and getting tiks to the Pilobolous Dance Troupe. As it turned out my wife got bot the shoes(last week) and the dance tickets, but I did not have to interrupt her in her during her reading session as the thought popped in my head--(after seeing the article).

                              Though the card on getting more printer paper got processed into the @errands list and I did "promote" the "Go Abroad" someday/maybe project to an active one as I wrote a Next Action (Get work permit regulations from the NZ Consulate, place = @computer-home) after reading the article on New Zealand in the travel section...

                              (Make it happen...)

                              Best,

                              Louie

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