Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Organizing tips

Open Loops

Good stuff, and lots of it.


Wridea looks like it will be worth playing with to test its usefulness. Another application, basically an ideas notepad that lets you create multiple pages and categories to sort your ideas out. Of course, there's a blog to chart development progress.

via Web 2.0 Central

Friday, May 26, 2006

Back to paper

Having had an accident with my aging Visor Handspring a few weeks ago (allowed the batteries to conk out - very stupid - but fortunately I had backed it up reasonably recently) I'm very interested in the "pack to paper" movement that seems to going on.
Bill Westerman is clearly serious about technology but has found himself attracted back to quality paper, binding and pen
But it was all too ... digital. All of the nuances of life - the margin notes, the scratched out words and curvy lines - were demoted to little ASCII characters on the screen. Notes were meaningless without that context, splayed out on rigid horizontal lines, one after the other. And then few months ago, I snapped. I went out and bought a bound blank book from Spain (by Miquel Rius), grabbed a UniBall Vision Elite from the drawer, and felt the tension ease out of my shoulders as I put pen to paper, scratching away as I slowly regained my feel for handwriting. It took me a few weeks to remember how to happily form characters again, but now I find myself writing with abandon, hooking the bottoms of my "g"s and crossing the tops of my capital "J"s.

Inspired by this, Mike Rohde describes his experimental weekly planner based on a standard Moleskine notebook. Pictures are, of course, available.

Christian Lindholm is also going retro after years of electronic notetaking.
For my Retro solution I opted for the Moleskin Japanese NotePad in A6 which I modified by cutting out pages which I complemented with a thin notepad A6, where paper is thinner and some can be teared away. For input I acquired a Muji pen with multiple pens, it has black ink, red ink and a 0.5mm pencil. This allows me to make small mind maps with some highlight colour.

No movement is complete without its fundamentalists, and these are surely represented by the Hipster PDA folk. Gadgets don't come any more basic than a bunch of small cards and a bulldog clip.

But none of this is a flight from technology. It is a genuine attempt to harness the best available tools for the task, to pursue elegance, versatility and usability. I've already found benefit from carrying the most basic Hipster and as my journey into gtd continues, I'm looking forward to refining the methods I use for collecting my 'stuff'.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A minor triumph

I had a call from a colleague in my organization yesterday after a copy of a letter I received a couple of months ago. It was quite clear that he was sure I wouldn't be able to find it. "Give me a call when you've put your hand on it," was a bit of a giveaway.

So imagine my pleasure at being able to say, "I have it here, call round anytime."

It was, as Wooster would have said, a juicy moment. A small thing but, to my sense of well-being, very significant.

Thank you, GTD!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Online organization with Google Notebook and Backpack

Integral Awakening has a very useful article, part of a series.
I LOVE Google Notebook. Regardless of what other tools I may or may not use, I'm confident that I'll keep it as part of my organization system. But let's be clear: Google Notebook is not a tool for organization per se, but rather an excellent rounding-up tool, which you will later process and filter by means of organization. For that purpose, it is simply awesome.

It is very hard to disagree.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Google Notebook

inner.geek reveals a very handy little Google Notebook 'easter egg'.

Visual notetaking

DIY Planner asks
When you try and remember something, like a favorite summer day, does the memory come back as text? If you're telling someone how you want a new house to be built, would you open a word processor up and start typing instructions? Our brains are wired for a mix of systematic thinking on the left side, and visual thinking on the right. So why, then, do we take notes primarily in textual form?

Good question. And a good answer.

Friday, May 19, 2006

GTD wannabee

While I get on with my own foray into the world of Getting Things Done, here's a useful piece from Black Belt Productivity
I actually didn’t find implementing GTD too painful. I made sure to read the book through all the way first, and then went back and skimmed where required. To be honest, most of what’s in there is plain common sense, but it were so common, everybody would have some. I immediately instituted the concept of writing everything down, using contexts, using my calendar as a hard landscape, and instituting a general filing system. I had a home filing system, but I also had stacks of one-off things that didn’t deserve their own file folders. GTD changed that.

Link via the excellent Ian's Messy Desk

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My shame

I told you it was bad. But I've been and acquired a big stack of file folders today, and i'm feeling determined...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Getting started

I'm one of those people who never has enough time. I always feel too busy. But I know there are people who have much more to do than me and who seem to remain calm and cheerful. They get things done when I don't.

It isn't that I'm without ability. I hold a reasonably senior post in the organisation I work for (who that is might emerge later) and I haven't been resposible for too many disasters. My problem is that I work in chaos, and it has to stop.

I've been recommended to read Getting Things Done by David Allen more than one occasion, so the other day I bought a copy. What I've read so far makes sense, but I realize that reading alone won't do me any good. I've got to do it.

This blog will be a travelogue of my journey from where I am to what I trust will be a happier, more organized, place. I'm blogging this journey because I don't want to talk about it -- I've tried and failed too many times before -- but I need the accountability that comes from sharing.

Walk with me?