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  • Paper System: how do you use it?

    I use electronic GTD setup (Outlook+Palm 750v) and there's a lot of freedom in it for me. I just can't get how people can use paper based GTD setup. It seems very difficult to write down every email follow-up or move re-write compleated action with a new one. Can someone give an overview of his paper system (pictures would be great as well) and how he uses it on a daily basis?

    Just curious.

  • #2
    Seems a strange request to me. First of all, why? You like your electronic set up so why mess with it? And David in his book and online talks extensively about how to set up a paper system. And Katherine (Kewms) has explained hers extensively on this forum as have others. Check em out.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
      I use electronic GTD setup (Outlook+Palm 750v) and there's a lot of freedom in it for me. I just can't get how people can use paper based GTD setup. It seems very difficult to write down every email follow-up or move re-write compleated action with a new one. Can someone give an overview of his paper system (pictures would be great as well) and how he uses it on a daily basis?

      Just curious.
      Wow, Borisoff, what a timely question!

      I use an electronic system similar to yours, but I have recently (ie., yesterday) decided to try out a Hipster PDA. My reasons are: 1) no battery to recharge; 2) lighter & smaller (assuming I don't have too many cards); 3) easier capture; and 4) I can put it in my back pocket without worrying about sitting on it. I realize I'll be giving up the following features: 1) easy backup copy; 2) auto-generate recurring tasks/appointments.

      I've got just about everything figured out except for the calendar and recurring tasks (the tickler file has never really worked for me -- I would sometimes go weeks without checking it, do I ditched it). I'm toying with keeping an electronic calendar and a text file for recurring tasks and simply transcribing the upcoming week into the hPDA, but I'd love to see how others are handling this. In the meantime, I'm carrying both my hPDA and my digital PDA because it's got my calendar in it

      Comment


      • #4
        A lot of discussion has been on this topic. I am a person that switched back and forth sm times and uses a hybrid system at the moment. but se the problem, an email is eighter: junk, a task that must be done at a specific time, = a meeting, or a task that must be done before a specific time = project, or just refrence information, electronic systems are very good to organise these. However when it comes to note taking paper is far better since most people handwrite must faster then they type. Paper also give much better overview of notes and calendar,

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        • #5
          Hybrid system

          I too have switched back and forth between digital and paper. I have ended up with a hybrid based on what works best for me.

          Outlook ( as we use corporately) for calander and day/date specific
          Paper for all capture and notes (pure capture by 3X5 note cards - notes in a Rhodia pad with tear off sheets

          All action lsts are on context specific 3X5 cards becasue I like the actof writing to ensure I get the right action and they are more potable and accessible when I need them than my PDA was. Also in my role I have a lot of agendas and waiting fors so capture and process on paper is more effective for me.

          I print out my calander from outlook using the trifold print so I have a days detail any specific day tasks and a view of the week; I also print out the current and two future moneth for easy reference

          Note takes get processed as relevant into either the action cards or onto a project specific mind map if it is reference info ; I keep any paper copies in a project reference file for about a month.

          But that's what workd for me and it has taken a while to get thre and I'm sure it will change again...


          Niall

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          • #6
            Hi,
            the paper vs. digital discussion seems to be one of the issues which absorb our energy and prevent us from getting things done

            I'm not a frequent poster in this forum, but I can't back off to give you my 2ct:
            Im using since several years a palm m500 (b&w, 8 Mhz, 8 MB, no mp3, no internet, no bluetooth, no ... , no..., no... = only a digital PIM).
            1) Batterie lasts about 2 up to 3 weeks. IMO, if you have to get to a power socket every 2-3 days thats no real mobility.
            2) IMO light and small (especially if you mind how many informations are stored)
            3) Easy capture with simple freeware tools like Diddlebug, TodoDA etc.
            4) Sit on it if you like if it's in a RhinoSkin-AluCase (mine is about 6 years old and look as new. It's everyday in my back pocket...
            5) Automated daily, hourly (like you choose) backup
            6) Easy to sync (also Outlook)
            7) looks nice

            So, why not 'back to the roots'. I would like to see palm making a revival of the good old m500, maybe with double battery-capacity = 4 weeks mobile without geeting hectic in finding a power-socket.

            Bye, Jens

            Originally posted by jknecht View Post
            Wow, Borisoff, what a timely question!

            I use an electronic system similar to yours, but I have recently (ie., yesterday) decided to try out a Hipster PDA. My reasons are: 1) no battery to recharge; 2) lighter & smaller (assuming I don't have too many cards); 3) easier capture; and 4) I can put it in my back pocket without worrying about sitting on it. I realize I'll be giving up the following features: 1) easy backup copy; 2) auto-generate recurring tasks/appointments.

            I've got just about everything figured out except for the calendar and recurring tasks (the tickler file has never really worked for me -- I would sometimes go weeks without checking it, do I ditched it). I'm toying with keeping an electronic calendar and a text file for recurring tasks and simply transcribing the upcoming week into the hPDA, but I'd love to see how others are handling this. In the meantime, I'm carrying both my hPDA and my digital PDA because it's got my calendar in it

            Comment


            • #7
              My Paper system

              Hi Borisoff. I definitely prefer a paper system for several reasons, not the least of which is knowing myself well enough that the first time I need information from my PDA and the battery is dead, I'll throw it away. I don't have time for things that don't work how I need them to.

              My GTD system has the following parts:

              Inbox: just a regular plastic $3 inbox on my desk, with 2 levels. The top level is my inbox. The second level is 3x5 cards and blank printer paper so I have 'input paper' at hand whenever I'm at the desk. My inbox (also email inbox) gets emptied every day, first thing.

              File cabinet: General reference file, including all work files (I work from home), and my Tickler file, located in the front of the first drawer. The Tickler file is the only thing in an Esselte hanger, just to separate it from my reference files. Each day I throw the next day's tickler file into the inbox. Bills go into the Tickler file.

              3x5 Note Jotter: I love this. This is a $9.99 leather 3x5 card holder that holds about 20 cards. I bought it at Staples. While I don't care about looking 'executive', I do need my stuff to not look out of place in a board room, court, or visiting clients, and this does a great job. I carry it in my pocket, flatter than my wallet, and is used for any idea, anywhere. It is purely an input device. The used card (typically only 1 idea per card) gets folded and stuck in my pocket. When I get to the house, I empty my pockets and toss any used cards into the Inbox. I carry this at all times, but first got it because I didn't want to scribble everything directly into my planner--too messy.

              My planner is a 5x8 notebook (happens to be Moleskine, but they aren't magical, despite their following). It contains the following sections:

              Calendar: I inserted 3-4 months of calendar inserts (Day-Runner or Franklin-Covey style). They have tabs sticking out for immediate access.

              Next Actions: this is a thick tab sticking out 1/4 inch or so, with a Brother P-touch label on it. There are about 15 blank pages after the Next Actions.

              Because I do not have separate context pages, I use the first column for @Store, @Phone, etc. The center column will say the Next Action, with the keyword in caps, and the third column gives any due date. I prefer the simplicity of looking for all Next Actions in the same place. I don't mind scanning through things I can't work on right away (in fact, it functions as a daily review of every Next Action on my plate).

              As the items are completed, I cross off (with a blue highlighter) the context for that task. I can still see the item for future reference but can quickly skim past them, also.

              Projects: Another thick tab, of a different color, with my Project list. This is then followed by 15 pages for more Projects. This is purely for the list, not for mind maps or anything about them.

              Someday/Maybe: This is another tab like the others, with 15 pages.

              Lists: This is my catchall section of the notebook. If I have to develop a Project Plan, this is where I do it. If I decide to design my dream house, this is where I do it. Exercise plans, shopping lists, notes on books I'm reading, all go into this section of the notebook. Checklists (Weekly Review checklist, etc.) also goes in here.

              Index: The last page of the notebook is an Index. In 3 columns I have all the page numbers of the notebook and the page title for each. I can find any piece of information in my planner in about 5 seconds by using the Index.

              I used to have an address book list in the notebook but now have a separate address book, which I rarely use, since most contact information I need is in my phone or email account address book.

              So, basically, in my planner I am carrying everything that matters to me. I can do a tremendous amount of work and planning with the notebook, a pen, and nothing else. I don't need a plug or batteries, nor do I have to wait for anything to turn on--they take too long, or at least mine did.

              If something is long or drawn out, I'll type it on the computer because I type far faster than I write. Then I'll file the printout.

              Emails to write: I will just jot "Email Leroy" and that's it. Doesn't take long. I could have it written on my Next Action list and done before my PDA was even turned on. I'm sure newer PDA's are better. Note that I don't get more than 20-50 emails per day, so I don't know if that makes a difference. If I were in the 800 per day range, I'd probably have a tab specifically for emails, with only the name and the due date (or a list of high-priority emails and then the rest).

              I absolutely love my system. it's portable, simple, and neat. Onlookers roll their eyes less when I open what appears to just be a calendar compared to when I whipped out a PDA.

              I very much love the option of just flipping through my notebook and finding what I want. A single $13 notebook and $10 calendar inserts are enough to last me at least 6 months. This is a bargain compared to digital, but the cost is secondary to efficiency for me and the parameters of my particular career and life.

              My favorite aspect is that I can carry the tiny Note Jotter anywhere that carrying a planner would be awkward (say, into the movies). Between the Jotter and my Moleskine, I can keep myself busy anywhere. I'd worry about dead batteries with any other system (and my low tolerance for such scenarios).

              I should also point out that I work for myself, out of my home, and am in the process of starting this business, so I don't know how my system would apply to corporate environments, especially those that impose using Outlook, etc.

              I don't know how to post pictures, but I could find out in order to post pictures of my notebook and system if the 1000 words aren't clear enough. When I've got it fully refined I want to post a write-up on it.

              Hope this helps,
              JohnV474

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              • #8
                GTD Purpose designed notebooks?

                For many of the reasons outlined already I am seriously considering switching to more of a hybrid system from my all digital one. I'd like to manage my NA lists on paper but the thing that frankly is holding me back is finding the right notebook. I know I will be drawn to something that looks good and is designed with GTD in mind more than a notebook or even a Moleskin that I hack myself. I don't want something too thick, I want to have pre-tabbed sections and I'd prefer to have perforated pages. It should look professional.

                Question is - does such a beast exist at the moment? Am I being unreasonable?

                I know DAC is bringing out a range of paper based products but that is not for a while and it's unclear what they will be like.

                Any thoughts or ideas appreciated!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I use a hybrid system ... my collection system uses 3x5 cards and a Moleskine. When something comes up, I first capture it on a 3x5 card. During the day I am completing many actions that end up on a the 3x5 card(s). If they are not done, then at the end of the day I place them in my Moleskine for better long term reference. I then process my Moleskine once a week in my Weekly Review into Outlook for my master next action list and MindManager for my Projects(s), Someday/Maybe(s), and Dashboard.

                  Since I have some much coming at me digitally via email, I can't image moving stuff out of the computer to a completely paper system. I guess it could be done but for me that would be very inefficient.

                  Steve

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                  • #10
                    I thought the system presented by JohnV474 -is most interesting. I wondered how you use inserts with your moleskine. The notebooks i have seen don't have the inserts for calendar and such. If you could let me know where you get inserts that size, i would appreciate it.
                    If you are ever able to get a picture of the system up to see, i would be interested.

                    The only difference for me is that i am using GTD wallet. Works very well but could have saved some money by purchasing notecard wallet.

                    Thanks,

                    MTF

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                    • #11
                      I'm very interested too. JohnV474, how do you get the inserts to stay in?

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                      • #12
                        Very high end.

                        Originally posted by sdhill View Post
                        I know DAC is bringing out a range of paper based products but that is not for a while and it's unclear what they will be like.
                        I think these products will be very high end - like other DAC products so you may want a cheaper solution - for example Moleskine notebooks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Calendar inserts

                          Michael Fahey and Michele,

                          The calendar inserts I use are Day-Timer Monthly Tabbed Calendar inserts (2 pages per month), purchased from the local Office Depot. The pages have a border that is slightly larger than the 5x8 Moleskine that I use, so I trimmed the edges.

                          I have inserted them with staples, so I can remove them and put them into a new planner if I have to. It is better to put the calendar pages toward the beginning so you don't feel the bulge of the staples under your pen (note to self: just found solution to that problem...). If they are at the end, you will feel lumps as you are working on the pages leading up to them. The pages are already sized so the tabs stick out just right. Just about any 5x8 pages would work.

                          Oh, and to address someone else's concern, I don't believe that there is an off-the-shelf GTD planner that will work better than one you make yourself, any more than I think there is an off-the-rack suit that will fit better than a custom-tailored one. Luckily, the parts to make a customized planner are so cheap that I spend less and get more--even if I go through different versions (as I have), it's still cheap. I ended up with one tailored it to my needs and preferences--simple, effective, and deadly, like a good poison. I threw my off-the-shelf 'executive' (all flash, no fire) planners and PDA away.

                          JohnV474
                          Last edited by JohnV474; 05-19-2008, 10:53 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks John. For a notebook, just a simple 5X8 moleskine?

                            I have been through a couple pda's myself but always come back to some sort of paper method, although i am interested in the new software that will be coming for the ipod touch/phone.

                            MTF

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Moleskine

                              Moleskine is a funny company. They have a cult-like following. Combine that with the GTD following and we can be a little hardcore.

                              However, the paper has a nice feel and, more importantly to me, it is available in graph paper. I think it's archival-quality paper, and I use a fade-resistant pen so I can keep it long term.

                              Moleskine has several great features: it's a great, slim size, the book lays pretty flat, the paper feels good, it has an elastic to keep it closed, and a placemark. They go for around $13-16 bucks at your local big box bookstore.

                              The notebook itself is, in some ways, the most difficult part to get, because it has to feel right. I didn't like anything smaller than 4x6 and nothing more than about 1/2 inch thick or as big as 8x10.

                              JohnV474

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