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Thursday
Sep162004

Hipster PDAs, Work Diary Observations & a To Do Concept

Today, I came across an interesting post at 43 Folders, about the Hipster PDA, a high tech PDA replacement made from 3x5 note cards. The Hipster PDA is a bunch of cards are held together with binder clips. Now, I've made use of note cards for speeches in the past, but have never considered them for a PDA replacement — interesting idea. I especially love the idea of "beaming" 3x5 cards to other Hispter PDA users! ;-)

My only problem with the system is the same one I have with any paper-based system: how do make a backup? I suppose note cards are easy enough to flop on a photocopier, but in reality, because making photocopies is a hassle, it would rarely (if ever) happen. So, If you lose one or the whole stack of your note cards, you're sunk. This is the single reason why I prefer a Mac or Palm based system for my project notes, schedule and contacts.

Work Diary Update

This issue was also at the very center of my work diary concept. I had considered a paper-based system, but felt that backup and searching capabilities of computer-based notes were more reliable and useful. In fact, for the past few weeks I've been using an RTF document to capture my work-related thoughts and ideas. My work diary also syncs to the Palm (for backup and occasional remote reading and editing).

I'm pleased to report that my work diary is functioning very well — even better than expected. I'm capturing many ideas that would have normally been lost, and and am writing out thoughts which have often turned into very useful project notes or emails.

One useful diary feature I hadn't envisioned, was the capture of interesting websites I encounter. I've already noted several good CSS and web references and links to promising software products relative to my work. I like having the diary sync to my Tungsten E for viewing purposes — though I must admit, not much editing is happening on the Palm. Because I mainly work at my Mac all day long, that's just where diary entry and editing happens.

Related To-Do Concept

Because of the Diary's success, I'm going to test out a single text document for To-Do management. This idea also sprouted from a discussion had with my friend Lorenz Szabo, and a link to notes on a Danny O'Brien Lifehacks talk, about the use of plain text documents for managing To-Do lists (captured by Cory Doctorow). The idea is simple — stop fiddling with To-Do applications and putting your To-Dos and in a single text file that's managed manually. So, I've created my To-Do list today, and I'll see how well it works for several weeks. Of course I'll report back here on how it's working (or not) for me.

As always, feel free to leave suggestions or ideas about these ideas in the comments area!

Update: This morning, I paid a visit to Danny O'Brien's Lifehacks Wiki, through which I stumbled upon the C2 Self Improivement Patterns Wiki. Here, I found two relevant documents about Log Books and Electronic Log Books, both in the vein of the work diary idea. There is also a discussion here, about To-Do lists, and The Power of Plain Text. Interesting stuff.

Reader Comments (3)

Above posted by me. Heh, same bug as Allen.
October 1, 2004 | Unregistered Commentermilesh
Milesh, another question I thought of today was related to the one you posed:

"Is all this junk I think of and write down really really really important to where I'd be devastated if I were to loose the piece of paper it's on? If so, make a copy and/or enter it into your computer somewhere."

From the other perspective, yes, a text document in the computer is quite flexible (searchable, can be synced, always readable, etc.) however, on the point of searching -- how often would you *really* search that document? In other words, not to think "can I" search it, but "will I" search it?

Mmaybe a written on paper journal is not really a disadvantage from the search point of view, if realisiticly you'll never actually search for anything. It's sort of the realist's view (will I really ever search?) vs. the engineer's view (what if some day I *might* want to search?).
October 2, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Adrienne, excellent points. I own a copy of ShadowPlan, but don't use it as much any longer... I've settled on the stock To-Do list. I've checked out the desktop version, but as I'm generally OK with to-dos, I've not jumped in all the way yet.

Good tip on the Seiko InkLink! I'd all buy forgotten about them!
October 26, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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