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Help re: flipping the flipping paper pages!

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  • Help re: flipping the flipping paper pages!

    I apologize for this long post.

    I need a little help. I would appreciate any suggestions on any aspect of this paper problem. Maybe it is really a strategy problem.

    I am now totally paper based. My Palm blew up twice and I rescued it, then twice again and that was that. I was spending too much time on data entry anyway and I could not use it for time planning very well, but I miss the search-ability, the repeat calendar function, and the contacts data base. I had already begun to use paper for action lists in a binder along with a "high lights". calender (meaning key dates such as vacation, big appointments, etc).

    So what is the problem? Using a binder for everything requires a lot of paper and flipping around in a lot of paper it is making me flipping crazy.

    The first problem is I want to be able to see my calendar when I am adding to or working from my context lists. I think I need to have the calendar in a separate binder. That's easy, except it is more to carry around, and another piece to lose with no back up.

    Second problem is that when I am entering an action I have to flip through too many pages and I forget what I am going to write down by the time I get to the right page. You'll see why this is when I take you through my context list pages.

    Third, when I call someone, I want to have everything I need to speak to them about and everything I am waiting for from them right in front of me and yet these are not really projects that require a whole folder, it is usally just a bit of information like a model number or a price, or notes from the last conversation. And this is a problem, beccause I am calling people from different places I am in and even different parts of my home.

    So here is the present system--

    3 ring binder

    12 monthly tabbed calendar pages

    2 pages a week for appointment detail for next 12 weeks only (trying to lighten the load).

    Tabbed Divider for each context:

    @Adgenda-several pages--immediate family usually covers 3 pages, and a page each for extended family, friends, key associates.

    Problem-I like to note when I spoke to the person, what the person said. and who is to do what next/when. Where should I put this information? How can I find it again?

    For each family member, I may have quite a few notes pertaining to many different projects. And, for a given project, I may have to talk to several people at different times and I need to easily see to whom I have already spoken and what he or she said. I don't usually have project materials for family stuff, or if I do, since it gets mentioned on an incidental basis, I don't have them at hand. How can I track stuff that happens so fast and in bits and pieces?

    @Calls/Calendar
    I have found that for the majority of phone calls , I need my calendar to refer to. So, this works, except for the noteing of what happened. as I mentioned above

    @Computer-a few pages-writing, research, e-mail, explore (often the most fruitful--I took it out of SDMB).

    @ Office-1-2 pages of next actions with 1-2 page list of current office projects and their purposes and time line, with a scribbled note as to status. The only tasks that can be done in the office are face-to-face meetings, scheduling myself for one-to-one meetings, verifying numbers, hand writing notes, copying and faxing, filing, piling, returning or retrieving books and supplies, shredding and sorting out papers, care of plants, cleaning. Thinking writing, analyzing, researching is done at my home office.

    Problem: The project list is always messy. One project's status will get updated so many times that the page gets filled up and there isn't room for information on the others.

    @ Out (=errands)- there are several pages behind the divider:
    Neighborhood places (post-office, shoe repair, bank, Rx, etc).
    Library, book store, music store.
    Mall-South, Mall -West and other stores on West side of town
    Office Supply, Craft, and Art
    Hardware and building supplies
    Other Local
    Out-of-Town

    Grocery-1 page = menu notes, 3 other pages because I use two main stores and one is for specialty stores.

    Problems:
    Too many pages to flip through as I locate where to put an item.

    Failing to get an item when I am in a general location or store where I could get it because I buried it in a list on another page.

    I don't like to bring the binder into most stores with me because it is clumsy to open and refer to, and I am afraid of losing it. Also, it intimidates people.

    @Home-desk/office.

    @Home-inside

    Problem-the tasks are so spread out, I would rather have them grouped by parts of the house.

    @Home-outside--

    @Lists-reference, ideas, dimensions.

    @Waiting

    Problem: I want to be able to easily locate all the "waiting fors" that pertain to one person, but these are entered by date. It seems more likely I will remember to cue the person for whom I am awaiting something if I keep the "waiting for" items with the @Adgenda for that individual.


    Projects List-For some, just a name and a few words, others a brief description, some however a full page. Why? I get an idea or see something to add or need to refer to a crucial piece of information and I am not with my project support files. Also, as I process and organize, I don't want to start up a new project that is already in process.

    SDMB-probably does not need to get carried around but I do add to it at times when I am not processing.

    ON-GOING- I sometimes use 1-4 pages a day of paper for "stuff"--my thoughts, concerns, observations. Problem- I don't seem to have time to read through this regularly and make use of it as well as I would like. I often need to make or use these notes when I not at a desk.

    The other problem is that I need to use check lists for routines and I have these in separate book (a teacher's rollbook). So that is a third item. I also have one of these for my workouts, so that is a fourth item.

    Thanks in advance for reading this and for responding.

  • #2
    Do you have a laptop which you can carry around? If so, what about using plain text files instead of paper? Backup and searching is also easy. I had problems such as too much of flipping papers, using a lot of paper, project notes related to long term projects getting damaged near the rings, and so on. But I still wanted the complete freedom like that in paper, so since last ten months or so, I am using plain text files for my inventory, which combines advantages of both sides.

    About note taking if you want to use paper: the first section of the ring binder folder is recommended to have blank sheets for taking notes. You can process them later and move them to appropriate section. Same for adding someday-maybe items: note them down on blank sheets. Move them to someday-maybe while processing.

    When speaking to a person, you can note directly into the agenda items, so that it will be in front of you next time you talk to the same person. But while talking on phone, you may note absolutely anything, and later while it may go to various or even multiple places like the agendas plus the project material. So writing first in the notes section is better.

    Regarding lists for out-and-about items, move or copy them onto something smaller like a pocket notebook. One page per context. Do you make calls when out and about? If you only call from office or home, keeping the ring binder in front need not be a problem. Do you use enough separator sheets in the binder? Also use additional sheets not inserted into the rings as bookmarks, so that you can bookmark the agenda page for the person you are talking to, and with the help of the separator sheet marked as 'calendar' you can easily turn to your calendar.

    For project list: Make two different sections: One only for a list containing one liner descriptions of the project (and a blank space below the description, of about 1 inch in height in case you just want to scribble a couple of lines in future), and one containing separate sheets for each (nontrivial) project. You can add as many separate sheets to one project this way without affecting the space for others. Again, having enough blank sheets in the notes section (recommended to be the first) is desirable; they are required anytime.

    Hope this partially helps you,

    Regards,
    Abhay

    Comment


    • #3
      recommended software

      Hi~! I am Matsuru from malaysia. this is my first post here in the forum.

      i have been in a similar situation many years back. i used to use the 6 rings paper organisers to organize my time and activities. then i get bored of the ones i bought from bookshops, i custom made it myself. although it look ugly but it is functional. later i ditch the paper organiser and started using digital organiser instead. started off with sony ericsson p990i and now changed to windows mobile ipaq 212.

      anyway, i am using ipaq 212 now to organise. other than the original PIM software that comes with the ipaq. i install a freeware software called TOMBO. it is actually a list-type of software that display text file in tree form. i find it very very useful coz it is small and very fast.

      here's the link to the original site, http://tombo.sourceforge.jp/En/
      so, if you are using .txt file to organise your lists, this is the software i highly recommend you to check out.

      btw, it has desktop and ppc version.

      anyone here happen to be using this software? i would love to hear some feedback and how u set your lists.

      Comment


      • #4
        No offense, but you've asked for help on a huge number of things. It's going to be hard to focus here because of the volume. You might get better help if you ask for specific help on specific aspects in individual threads.

        First off: One great advantage of paper is the ability to spread it out. I think that would help you reconcile your lists easily.

        However, the 3-ring binder inhibits spreading out paper, so a 3-ring binder might not be the best solution for you. How about a clipboard? Or a report cover with pockets? I think I've seen binders with internal grips that you can just stick the paper into, without having to thread rings.

        As to your calendar, I'd keep the next 3 months' pages loose in a pocket of the binder. Then you can pull it out no matter what page you're on.

        About calling people: I don't see why your @Agenda list isn't working. If you have an @Sheila list, for example, are you listing everything you need to talk to Sheila about, including references to the other places in your system that have the information you need? What's falling through the cracks here?

        You ask, "I like to note when I spoke to the person, what the person said. and who is to do what next/when. Where should I put this information? How can I find it again?" The first two go in Project Support Materials. The last is a set of Actions and/or Waiting Fors, which go on the appropriate context list.

        You wrote, "The project list is always messy. One project's status will get updated so many times that the page gets filled up and there isn't room for information on the others." Yes. You will need to re-write your Projects list occasionally. I did this during my Weekly Review, since I kept my Projects list short.

        You wrote, "I don't like to bring the binder into most stores with me because it is clumsy to open and refer to, and I am afraid of losing it. Also, it intimidates people." Can't you bring in just the pages you need? And intimidation is not necessarily a bad thing.

        You wrote, "I want to be able to easily locate all the "waiting fors" that pertain to one person, but these are entered by date." Then, um, don't enter them by date? Put their name at the beginning of the Waiting For. A quick scan of the list should show you what you're Waiting For on that person.

        Overall, it looks to me like you may not be allowing enough time for Processing. For example, why don't you make your 1-4 pages of notes per day, then separately process them into your system? Treat them just like a piece of mail received. Looks like you have a lot of ideas that you also enter directly into your system, instead of processing them first.

        I've probably missed a bunch of things, but does this help?

        Comment


        • #5
          Although this is an older post, I will take a stab at it in case the original poster is still looking for ideas or new people have the same problems.

          Just a little background information: Although I am very proficient with various computer programs, I have been keeping a paper-based organizing system for twenty-two years. To say that I have a lot going on in my life would be putting it mildly. The main thing that I have noticed on these forums when it comes to paper-based systems is that people have a tendency to make things entirely too complicated. My system is simple, cheap, and very efficient.

          Now, on to the original poster's questions and problems:

          The first thing that popped into my head while reading your post is that you are a prime candidate for Post-it flags or other temporary and/or lightweight but semi-permanent markers. From your description, it sounds like part of the problem that you are having when flipping back and forth is that, although you have markers for the major sections, you don't have any markers for frequently-referenced pages. It also sounds like you are not necessarily consistent about where you are putting different types of information, and that is causing you to have to search through all possible locations for the notes that you need.

          The first problem is I want to be able to see my calendar when I am adding to or working from my context lists. I think I need to have the calendar in a separate binder. That's easy, except it is more to carry around, and another piece to lose with no back up.
          I only keep two or three months' worth of calendar pages in my notebook - last month, current month, and next month. That's generally enough of a reference for me to make future appointments or to check what I did last month. If you are scheduling things farther in advance or just want a date reference, simple sheets of monthly reference pages would work. I would ditch the calendar tabs and get sheets, which are lighter in weight. You can also do a quick internet search and find a printable index for the entire year, which would take up even less room. I have one general tab for my calendar, and I would put these reference sheets right at the beginning of that section. That way, you know exactly where they are, and if you are in another section of the notebook and need to reference them, you just grab the Calendar tab, and there you are.

          Third, when I call someone, I want to have everything I need to speak to them about and everything I am waiting for from them right in front of me. . .
          Problem: I want to be able to easily locate all the "waiting fors" that pertain to one person, but these are entered by date. It seems more likely I will remember to cue the person for whom I am awaiting something if I keep the "waiting for" items with the @Adgenda for that individual.
          Here is an example of the form that I use for my Calls context. I note the type of information to which you refer - model number, price, etc. - right on the form for that entry. I have set my forms up in a such a way that I can use as much or as little space for each entry as I need. During the call, I make brief notes right on the form (usually in a different color ink). I also make a note of the date and time that I talked to the person. If the person has agreed to provide X information to me, I immediately make an entry on my Waiting For action list. If they are supposed to have it to me by a certain time, I put a reminder on my Calendar on an appropriate date. If I am supposed to call the person again for a follow-up conversation, I make a new entry on the Calls sheet with a note of what I'm following up about. Again, if I need to do this by a certain date, I jot a reminder on my Calendar. Using this method, I have a nice contact log for future reference.

          As for the Waiting For sheet, there are a variety of low-tech methods that you could use to easily see everything that you are waiting for from a certain person even though your entries are done by date. I use the same format for my Waiting For list as I do for my Calls list. If you are visually inclined, you could use different colored highlighters for each person that you want to track in this way. Or, you could use a standard naming convention - say, each person's initials - and make that the first column after the date. That way, at a glance, you can look down your list and pick out all of the things that you are waiting on from AB or whoever.

          Problem-I like to note when I spoke to the person, what the person said. and who is to do what next/when. Where should I put this information? How can I find it again?
          Again, I would note this information directly on the Agenda sheet under that entry. Make an entry on the Waiting For list and/or a Calendar reminder if appropriate. Just like the Calls list and the Waiting For list, the Agenda lists can become nice self-logs of information. You don't need to do anything extra for this.

          @Calls/Calendar
          I have found that for the majority of phone calls , I need my calendar to refer to. So, this works, except for the noteing of what happened. as I mentioned above
          Same as above. Your Calendar pages can also be used as a diary if you just want to make a quick note about when you talked to someone (if they called you, for example). Again, any follow up needs to go on the appropriate n/a lists.

          @ Office-1-2 pages of next actions with 1-2 page list of current office projects and their purposes and time line, with a scribbled note as to status.
          I'm not sure that I understand the need for project status updates. Wouldn't this be covered by completion of the n/a's relevant to each project? The project list should be a pretty simple listing; the status of a project would be self-evident as you work through the n/a's, etc. The "updates" are the check marks you put after you've completed an action.

          Failing to get an item when I am in a general location or store where I could get it because I buried it in a list on another page.
          Why are you putting things on other pages? Do you think you would would do better with one Need to Get list?

          I don't like to bring the binder into most stores with me because it is clumsy to open and refer to, and I am afraid of losing it. Also, it intimidates people.
          I think that you may be carrying too much in your active notebook. Also, as I said before, it sounds like your system might be a little too chaotic. I'm not sure that I would worry about intimidating other people with my notebook.

          ON-GOING- I sometimes use 1-4 pages a day of paper for "stuff"--my thoughts, concerns, observations. Problem- I don't seem to have time to read through this regularly and make use of it as well as I would like. I often need to make or use these notes when I not at a desk.
          Process these pages during your weekly review and either archive those pages in reference notebook or in reference or project folders - whichever is appropriate.

          The other problem is that I need to use check lists for routines and I have these in separate book (a teacher's rollbook). So that is a third item. I also have one of these for my workouts, so that is a fourth item.
          I use meeting checklists for my day job. I also have health logs, food diaries, etc. I only keep one of each in my notebook. In other words, I only have a checklist for the next meeting ready to go in my notebook; only have the current health log; only the current food diary page, etc. For the meetings, I print off a new sheet for the next meeting as soon as I have done everything on the checklist for the last meeting. Notes about meeting agenda items, etc. get jotted onto that new checklist and are ready to go when it is time to start preparing for that meeting. For my personal logs, etc., I print off an entire year's worth and keep those in a notebook at home along with blank forms and other notebook templates.

          I hope that I've helped a bit; please let me know if you have any questions or if something needs to be clarified.

          Comment


          • #6
            I forgot to add that I use a variety of clips and/or flags to bookmark various pages that I need to reference often. This cuts down a lot on the whole "flipping through a lot of pages" thing. Clips and flags are a lot lighter than cardstock divider tabs. If you prefer tabs and are into DIY, I suggest using vellum to make your own dividers. Vellum is light, but sturdy, and you can reinforce the tab (neatly) with packing tape, if desired. You can buy vellum by the roll or the sheet at any craft superstore.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks, Dawn, for the helpful post!

              Comment

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