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  • going back to paper

    I made a decision to go from my Palm to paper. This wasn't easy and I felt a twinge of regret as I shipped my Palm device to the eBay buyer.

    How many of you have made this switch? What was the outcome?

    Thanks
    Brian

  • #2
    I've gone back and forth a few times.

    Because I value portability over all else, when I go to paper, I go with a Hipster PDA made out of 3x5 index cards. You can see a version of it here:

    hak's Amish PDA


    When I go back to electronic, it's Outlook and, as recently as two weeks ago, a Motorola Q.

    The dynamic nature of my work dictates that I have an easy to update calendar and contact list. I haven't found anything better than Outlook and PDA or Smartphone to manage this.

    What am I using now?

    At work, the desktop computer with Outlook. I use a variation of the PigPog method for managing my tasks. All this info is synched with my Motorola Q.

    When I'm mobile, I take the Q and my Amish PDA which is relegated to a capture device at this point. It's much faster for me to write with pen and paper.

    hak

    Comment


    • #3
      I've found paper ideal for organizing my life. There's an immense satisfication in checking things off on paper. It's cheap. It's instantly accessible. And it's endlessly customizable.

      I used to have Palm handhelds - but it was a huge pain to try to keep them in sync with my computer. In the end, I spent as much time fiddling around with the technology as I did getting stuff done.

      For me, it is helpful to have a paper hub to control all of my digital and analog work. Removing my GTD system from the computer was thus a step to greater clarity, allowing for a more holistic, multi-tool approach to my life and work. In the past, I did everything on digital devices - but then neglected many things outside of my computer workspace. Now, I use a paper-based GTD system to make wise decisions about which tools to use for which tasks - and to limit the amount of time spent staring at screens.

      Developing a paper system and sticking with it also removes the need to search constantly for new software, hardware, etc. Granted, it takes a while to work out the kinks of a paper system - and to settle on the paper tools that work best for you. I use blank index cards, legal pads, and manilla folders. I'm confident that these tools will be around for a very long time (unlike Franklin-Covey Planners, Levenger Circa Binders, etc. - indeed, the "gadget" mania among paper fanatics can be just as bad as it is among digital afficionados).

      I've had my paper-based system for a year and a half and it's working so well that I'm fairly confident that I'll keep it for the rest of my life. (Try saying that about a Treo, Blackberry, or Palm!) And yet, at the same time, every week I discover new nuances to the system - new ways for it to make my life simpler and less stressful. The paradox: the paper system slows me down - and yet it also makes me work more efficiently at the same time.

      Obviously, this is a very personal testimonial - everyone's experience will be very different.

      Comment


      • #4
        Madalu

        I have been using a paper system also, mainly using Moleskine Calendar and Ruled but recently have 'fallen off the wagon' so am considering tweaking my system, can you explain to me how you use your paper system.

        Thanks heaps.

        Kim

        Comment


        • #5
          I did this change 2 years ago from a dell pocket pc to a paper planner. I never had any sync problems but I lacked the overview which the paper gives me. I still have to kep my little dell for the contacs they are so many that they will fill a planner if printed. The change to paper was easy in a hour all appointments was transfered. Action lists and project lits evolve over time. I use a franklin covey classic size planner, with some DIY forms modificatins that gives me plenty of space for notes.

          What i miss is the ability to transfer incoming email to the calendar or task list. If an incoming email is an appointment, i must now write that twice in the planner in the montly section and in the day section.

          Comment


          • #6
            There may be other reasons.

            Originally posted by akr95 View Post
            I have been using a paper system also, mainly using Moleskine Calendar and Ruled but recently have 'fallen off the wagon' so am considering tweaking my system
            There may be other reasons of falling of the wagon than GTD system implementation. Tweaking the system is sometimes a form of procrastination.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by akr95 View Post
              Madalu

              I have been using a paper system also, mainly using Moleskine Calendar and Ruled but recently have 'fallen off the wagon' so am considering tweaking my system, can you explain to me how you use your paper system.

              Thanks heaps.

              Kim
              Kim,

              My system is a hipster PDA (index cards with a binder clip). Action lists are on one side. Blank index cards are on the other side. And in the middle (separated by mini dividers - which have lasted a surprisingly long time) are my calendar cards, projects and someday/maybe, a record of spending, and other relevant notes and support material. I don't use the D-I-Y printer templates that everyone rushed to use 2 years ago - rather I just create my own lists and calendars by hand on blank index cards (more flexible this way - plus I'm not that interested in getting my printer to work with index cards - nor do I want to waste time cutting up cards printed on card stock).

              I like the index cards for their visibility, flexibility, and ease of capture. The entire system is in my pocket, and anytime something comes to mind, I can immediately jot it down on the blank index card (which is always facing out and ready to write on). At the same time, because everything's in one tidy package, I can process incoming stuff on the fly, adding it to my action and/or project lists. (I don't have to wait to get home to enter it into a computer system.)

              Each morning, I create a daily reminder card - with an hourly schedule and with reminders of stuff that I absolutely have to do this day. This is the top card in my actions section - and thus immediately visible. But if I'm working in a particular context, I simply move the card for that context to the top of the stack. Or, if I'm at a desk or doing a weekly review, I can spread the cards out to review them all at once.

              The one caveat about an index card system. It takes some work to maintain. For instance, if you let your inbox become too full (i.e., if you don't process it every day and replace used cards with blank ones), you will run out of blank cards. Likewise, you eventually need to copy your lists when they get messy or you run out of space. But this is a benefit in disguise, since it provides incentive to keep the system up to date - i.e., to process and review regularly.

              One final note, if you are an avid notetaker (as I am), it is important to set up an archival system for notecards. My solution, an index card file with alphabetical dividers - each notecard gets a subject name and/or title and is filed in alphabetical order. Unlike a notebook, you end up with similar thoughts and notes clustered together - you begin to see the connections between your ideas.

              My proudest discovery - using a separate hipster PDA (i.e., binder clip) to create a "notebook" of relevant project material. If I jot down notes for a current project on an index card - an address, a quote, etc. - I simply label the card at the top by project and subject matter (e.g., Bind Thesis - University Bindery Quote) and file it alphabetically in my secondary hipster. I can then quickly flip through this alphabetical index to obtain any information I need. Really, this is about as elegant and well-organized an analog data device as I could imagine.

              Hope this is of interest.
              Last edited by madalu; 05-23-2007, 06:04 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                madalu,

                How are you recording your appointments or calendar?

                I have a work-issued Blackberry in addition to my own Motorola Q...in addition to my "Amish"/Hipster PDA. Work sends me calendar updates while I'm on the road so it's much easier for me to manage my calendar through the Outlook/Blackberry/Q.

                Ditto for contacts.

                hak

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by webhak View Post
                  madalu,

                  How are you recording your appointments or calendar?
                  I make my own calendars for the hipster PDA. Right now, believe it or not, I'm using one card per month - I don't have too many meetings or appointments right now - only deadlines. This allows for planning 6 months out in the hipster. (I write really, really small on the calendar - and use symbols to link additional notes on the back of the card to particular events. With the symbols I can fit a fair number of items on a single day.)

                  My schedule, however, is going to get a lot busier next fall. So I'll likely use weekly calendars at that point. I've done this before. I keep 6 weeks total in the hipster. At home, I then keep an additional hipster with subsequent weeks - probably 6 months out. Creating the cards couldn't be easier - I quickly draw six lines across the card (vertical orienation) and fill in the dates.

                  I like to have the calendar as part of the hipster - it makes it easier to process stuff if everything's in the same place.

                  Contacts go in an address book. In the hipster, I keep one or two cards with the most important contacts - if these get out of date, I create new ones.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yes, of interest it is

                    Originally posted by madalu View Post
                    Kim,

                    My system is a hipster PDA (index cards with a binder clip). Action lists are on one side. Blank index cards are on the other side. And in the middle (separated by mini dividers - which have lasted a surprisingly long time) are my calendar cards, projects and someday/maybe, a record of spending, and other relevant notes and support material.
                    How many cards do you use for action lists?

                    Do you cross off an NA once you do it?

                    How many cards do you use for the calendar?

                    How big is this stack of small papers?

                    What do you do when project support material is 8.5x11?

                    It sounds like lots of writing, is it?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gtdlater View Post
                      How many cards do you use for action lists?
                      10 cards: Agendas, Computer, Home, Phone, Errands, Shopping, Library, Spouse, R/W/B (read/write/brainstorm), Waiting.

                      Originally posted by gtdlater View Post
                      Do you cross off an NA once you do it?
                      I have a checkbox by each action.

                      1) When I complete an action I enter a checkmark.

                      2) When I put the new next action (i.e., the action that follows from the completed action), then I cross out the completed action. This helps projects keep moving forward.

                      Originally posted by gtdlater View Post
                      How many cards do you use for the calendar?
                      6 monthly calendars - see post above. Right now it works OK - but I will probably switch to 6 weekly calendar cards this fall.

                      Originally posted by gtdlater View Post
                      How big is this stack of small papers?
                      3" x 5" x 0.4"

                      (The secondary project hipster is the same size, perhaps a little thinner.)

                      Originally posted by gtdlater View Post
                      What do you do when project support material is 8.5x11?
                      Put it in a manilla folder, label the folder, and file it in my alphabetical system. (The alphabetical filing system recommended by the GTD book has changed my life!)

                      Originally posted by gtdlater View Post
                      It sounds like lots of writing, is it?
                      Not an inordinate amount. I feel that it doesn't take much more time to write things down than it would to review them otherwise. Speaking from experience, I don't think it takes any longer to maintain an analog system than it does to maintain a digital system - especially if you're syncing between devices or printing stuff out. But YMMV.
                      Last edited by madalu; 05-24-2007, 08:12 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I probably wouldn't have 55 items on one context list and 37 on another if I had to write things down by hand. I probably wouldn't have an alphabetized list of 88 projects either.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gtdlater View Post
                          I probably wouldn't have 55 items on one context list and 37 on another if I had to write things down by hand. I probably wouldn't have an alphabetized list of 88 projects either.
                          Probably not. Which I've found to be a good thing. There seems to be a close correlation between lists that are too long to be useful and lists that are too long to write by hand. At the very least, a list that's too long to fit on one page (or index card) warns me to stop and think about my workload.

                          Katherine

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Great method!

                            Originally posted by madalu View Post

                            1) When I complete an action I enter a checkmark.

                            2) When I put the new next action (i.e., the action that follows from the completed action), then I cross out the completed action. This helps projects keep moving forward.
                            So simple, but powerful.

                            I use a carryover from Time Design (I think). Put an X next to a completed task. But the idea of crossing out the action to show that the next next action has been recorded is great!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kewms View Post
                              Probably not. Which I've found to be a good thing. There seems to be a close correlation between lists that are too long to be useful and lists that are too long to write by hand. At the very least, a list that's too long to fit on one page (or index card) warns me to stop and think about my workload.

                              Katherine
                              I'm really involved in at least 88 projects, and it's useful to know that.

                              Comment

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