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Back to Paper: Should I Ditch My PDA?

Last week my old Clié ran out of battery power, resulting in a blank Clié. I didn't lose any data, as I'd been syncing regularly. However, it became a bit of a hassle restoring the PDA this weekend, because one of my restored preferences seemed to hang the Clié at startup. I wiped out the Saved Preferences file, solved the hang and then spent time finding and re-entering many of my software serial numbers.

Time-management software -- offline version

I like my Clié, yet it suffers from one problem — the need for constant care and feeding. In this case, keeping the battery charged and after failing this requirement, steps necessary to bring it back from the dead.

Analog Option
On Saturday night, I came across a very slick example of a paper based task management system on Dave Gray's Flickr collection. It was a paper-based system created by Bill Westerman, a consultant and former Palm fanatic. Bill uses a large Miquelrius squared notebook, and has developed a unique symbolic system for managing his tasks. I love the compact and simple symbols he's developed, and his use of a chart to plan out his day (see the image above).

I began a discussion with Bill and other readers in the comments, asking about details of Bill's system. I was struck by something Bill said in his reply, about using a Palm vs. his current system:

I was an absolute Palm fanatic for about five years (even wrote the original "Palm Mirror" application ... see for details), but got tired of scratching away with the stylus all the time. Pen + paper is so much more gratifying.

Wow. I was amazed to see a Palm fanatic like Bill moving back to paper. Part of my hesitance has been my nearly 9 years as a Palm user, Palm advocate and fanatic. Last month, I came very close to ditching the Palm for schedule management, in favor of a Moleskine, but stopped short and have been using a Clié ever since.

The Back To Paper Movement

Today I came across another related piece called Why techies are leading the back-to-paper movement on Dave Gray's Communication Nation blog. The piece was written last November by Douglas Johnston, the creator of the DIY Planner. Doug talks about his addiction to technical systems and how he's found paper more effective for his needs. He talked specifically about this "Care and feeding" issue I've been reminded of with my wiped and restored Clié:

While I would carefully set up my list of 50-odd next actions, prioritising them, categorising them, setting alarms, and syncing between all the technology tools I had at my fingertips, Bettina would just glance at her book and get things done. This is not to say I was a slacker — on the contrary, I did manage to plough through an extraordinary amount of work and training — but a certain needless percentage of my time was spent tweaking my productivity system and trying to make it all work smoothly as a whole, mostly after-hours.

Amen brother! I know I have fiddled away countless hours tweaking my Palm or restoring it, or whatever the issue of the moment was. Now I start to wonder... was all of the tweaking and fiddling worth it? Even if that invested time was warranted, do I really want to continue caring for and feeding my PDA?

Doug continues:

Not only does using paper planners, storyboards, index cards, whiteboards and flip charts allow us to see and experience things from entirely new vantage points, they force us to re-examine the execution and importance of the task at hand. It's the break from the worn-out tech-centred paradigm, with no restrictions to hinder you, not even battery life.

While we're on the topic of focus, paper does help slow down the world, if only for a mere moment, and collect your thoughts. Free from the white noise of websites, the endless pinging of the email inbox, the 120 menu items per mouse click, and the average of one thousand significant chunks of information per hour, we can devote the entirety of one instance to one topic. Clarity of thought, anyone?

This sounds so attractive. Taking the time to separate myself from tech solutions and getting back to a more tactile approach — maybe this is something to consider. Already I'm very analog with my logo, icon and web design sketches, why not try it for scheduling my personal life?

Then I wonder, what would life on paper look like? I tried paper for a few weeks, after losing the Zire 72. I truly enjoyed using paper. I appreciated seeing an entire week at a glance. I found myself writing thoughts in the Moleskine, something I'd never have bothered doing on the Palm.

I'm very close to trying a paper Moleskine Weekly planner for 6 months to see how I like it. While the flexible cover of the new 18 Month Moleskine is attractive, the 1 week per page format seems too cramped for my needs. I much prefer 1 week across 2 pages, like the traditional Moleskine Weekly Pocket planner. Since 2006 Weekly planners are hard to get or costly, I'd make my own Weekly planner out of a ruled Pocket Moleskine.

What About the Palm?

What about my large collection of contacts on the Palm? Well, my iPod nano could work reasonably well as an address book, as it syncs via iSync to the address book on the Mac. 90% of the time I'm reading contact information, so the loss of data entry isn't a huge deal. Besides, I can capture contact information on the Moleskine and enter it on the Mac when I get home.

I would still make good use of the Clié for reading blogs and emails away from the Mac, since this lets me read blogs and email, and respond to an occasional email. I'd probably still use My Bible, and Noah Pro, though maybe not. I'd need to think through what role the Clié might play in everyday life a little bit more.

Should I do It?

This week I'm going to think about a move back to paper. I want to make sure it's reasonable, practical and that the system will work the way I need it to. I'm 95% sure it will work well, but I want to brew on the idea a few more days.

What do you think? Please leave your comments, suggestions or ideas. I know others must have made the move to paper themselves, so I'm very keen to hear about your experiences and tips.

Related Links:

The back story by Bill Westerman
The Notebook by Bill Westerman
The GSD system by Bill Westerman
Bill Westerman's Miquelrius Planner
Why techies are leading the back-to-paper movement by Doug Johnston

Update: I've moved to paper. Check out my next post: Creating a Custom Moleskine Planner, in which I describe the home-made planner I made from a regular ol' Pocket Moleskine Ruled notebook.

Reader Comments (37)

I'd do it. I'm glad I stick with paper and find it much more rewarding.
May 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKris Gosser
I know how you feel. I ended up switching away from my Tungsten C.. it wasn't any grand "should I switch?" question, though. It happened slowly.. I started keeping a to do pad next to my bed at night for those quick thoughts that come to me as I'm drifting off to sleep. I began to depend on the free form that paper and pen gave me.. so I decided to buy a small Moleskine (after reading about them here, I think) and keep it with me for my ToDo management. Loved it.

Shortly after, I bought a paper planner... and while I still haven't found the ideal combination of all of these things, I think I am better organized than I was with my Palm. I still use my Palm for other tasks.. like address book, calculators, and password keeper (using my own software).. but for day to day time management, I don't think anything beats paper.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Do it!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDave Gray/XPLANE
I rely on the ultimate "palm" when something really MUST be done ASAP. I pull out a pen and write it on the palm of my hand. I suppose paper is a bit more reasonable and less unsightly though.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTim
Thanks for the encouragement guys! Today I've been using my Moleskine and am really liking it, though I'm pretty certain the 1 week per page design in the 18 month planner won't work for me.

Brad, I think my Palm shift has also been gradual... slowly using the Palm for less and less until now. I really love that I can lay the Moleskine on my desk and never worry about it turning off or wiping out from low battery levels. :-)

Kris and Dave, what can I say... I'm being pushed over the edge!

Tim, I think you're talking about the Redneck PDA:

Hee hee. Keep the suggestions coming folks!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
It's tough to reconsider the investment in the Palm persona with which you've been identified. Perhaps now is a different time in your life and paper suits you better for some tasks. I used my Clie (and my Psion 3a/mx before that) actively for many years but it's fallen away recently.

I also loved that picture of Bill's analog to-do system. I've tried doing that with the Marble Memo Books (I always keep a pocket-sized Marble Memo in my back pocket; I prefer them over index cards) but always stumbled on how to handle Projects that moved from someday/maybe to active status and back again. Perhaps just using it for awhile and thinking through the problems would help me solve them. Certainly, his very easy flagging system would help him to quickly scan and appraise the state of his open loops.

I still use my Clie (and the Palm Desktop) for tracking/printing out my address book; Roboform lets me store/access passwords on both PC and Clie; and I still occasionally save web pages to read via iSilo. But I've also noticed my Clie use falling away, except as a portable reference for names, numbers, passwords, ebooks, etc. As you say, its care and feeding (I use Windows -- talk about care and feeding) and the constant quest to find the next DA or Hack that bends the Clie a little closer to the way *I* think, does get tiring and you wonder why bother.

This year, I'm using a Mead at a glance planner that fits with a work mgmt system described in Tom Limoncelli's book, TIME MANAGEMENT FOR SYSTEM ADMINISTRATORS. (The O'Reilly site has a sample chapter online.) It totally re-programmed my daily task mgmt behavior and I like it still. My one-and-done tasks are noted and checked off quickly, and multi-step tasks are very easy to schedule. My Marble Book holds the someday stuff and since I only access it weekly or so, that stuff doesn't get in the way of the everyday that I need to track.

BTW - the second sentence of your post should be "lose," not "loose."

Good luck -- mike
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Mike, excellent comment. Yes indeed, part of my issue is the time invested in the Palm world and my reputation there. However, I've already walked away from The Palm Tipsheet in 2003 for this weblog and had no problem doing so. I think you are right in saying that paper seems to suit me better at this time of my life.

As for systems, I think it's good to be imspired by others, but each peson needs to make a system work for them. I'm sure my paper-based system would be somewhat unique to me, even though others would inspire my ideas.

I'll still use the Cli�, mainly for reading. For this purpose it will be perfect. I just don't want to haul it around anymore and feel that need to constantly be aware of batter levels, whether I've synced and so on.

Have never heard of Tom L's book, but it sounds interesting. In fact I now see it can be read for 14 days freely online... cool idea. Thanks for the tip!

I appreciate the catch on my post text. The error has been fixed.

Thanks for your insight and comments Mike, they are appreciated!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
You're all crazy! (said in the friendly, joking manner)

There is no way I could give up my palm. I use a Treo 600 and it is with me always. I do carry a small Moleskine and pen for taking long notes or sketches but for anything To-Do or Calendar related, it has to go into the Palm with an alarm.

The Alarms! I would forget to leave my house for work each morning without an alarm. I'd forget my mother's birthday. My wife's birthday!

Also, my handwriting is awful to the point that I can't read it. The time it takes to hand write legibly is much longer than the time it takes me to tap out a note with my thumbs.

I applaud these efforts to get away from the digital, battery-powered crutch, but I'm going to keep right on charging every night and synching every few days out of fear.

May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Regarding reading feeds and email, I have a iPod Nano and have found a program called Pod2Go that lets you sync feeds and Apple Mail email to the iPod. It also has notes, and can manage songs, as well. The only limitations would be the size of your Nano, and the fact that you can't delete, flag, mark as read, etc.

There's other programs out there, but this seem's to be the most complete of those I've found so far.

I carry my Nano and a Moleskine around, referring to the Nano for Contacts, Calendar items, notes, etc, and using the notebook for "input". It's been working quite nicely.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa Thorp
Don't do it! I too had a Clie' that died. I had a Best Buy extended warranty for it and, since Sony pulled out of the US market, I replaced it with a Palm LifeDrive. I couldn't live without it, and I could NEVER go back to paper.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterstltamsfan
Mike, the iPod nano can display alarms and when I'm at the Mac, iCal can as well for important events. I'll use iCal for work, so it will be running all the time at the home office.

Carissa, thanks for the link � I am going to check out that app! It's also good to hear from someone using a Moleskine + nano system that is working for them.

stltamsfan, thanks for the perspective. I will hang on to the Clie for reading blogs, emails, the Bible, getting passwords with SplashID and for the Noah Pro, and maybe some other tidbits.

It just won't be carried with me as it used to be, but will hang around the house.

But I need to sort out what will do what yet � I'm sure that's going to be a process of discovery.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Hey Mike,

I'm sending you this message from a Macbook at the Apple Store. I actually kinda like this keyboard. And the glossy screen... hmm... it seems very doable. It looks really good from straight on.

May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Arentsen
Your notebook does not look like a Moleskine. It looks like a Milquelrius.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMgirllee
Mgirlee -- that's a photo of Bill Westerman's notebook. Check out the original post here:

I use a Miquelrius for logo, icon and other design sketches for my work, but for personal stuff I'd want something smaller, like a pocket Moleskine.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Hi Mike,I've been toying with paper vs Palm this year after reading your posts on this topic. What I've realised;

I need the Palm for a good overview of my agenda, contacts, ebooks, multimedia and a whole load of other bits of information. I'm based in Africa and digital media is a lifeline for me. When I need to buy a book, I'll opt for the electronic version as it's cheaper and immediately available. I have a TX and also use it to check my email and RSS feeds whenever I find a free WiFi hotspot (strangely, they do exist in Uganda).

I was delighted to find some Moleskine notebooks while travellng and bought the small and reporter's notebooks. I use these with my Lamy 2000 Fountain pen for meetings and brainstorming. When I need to 'think', I quickly grab my Moleskine and go somewhere quiet. Having a long flight? Whip out the Moleskine and Lamy and no worries about batteries. Such a relief!

That's how I've combined my 2 loves - Palm and paper.

I once used to turn up for meetings with my Palm and bluetooth keyboard - much to the envy of everyone there. Whenever there was a long pause between note recording, I'd have to get the two units to 'recognise' each other again. I actualy spent time tapping continously and fiddling with my keyboard so as not to lose the connection. Needless to say, this reduced my concentration.

Now it's just my Lamy 2000 and Moleskine reporter's notebook. Much lighter, neater and less worry of handwriting recognition.

I have to admit this was a different case when I had my Newton MessagePad 2100. It recognised my handwriting and was so easy to use that that it was all I carried with me to meetings. No notebook - nothing! A true PDA that was. Sigh!

May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHellene

If you are considering developing your own format, check this site:

It has a wide variety of free downloads!

May 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEdelmaK
Mike -- What your post did cause me to put on my Questions To Ponder list was: what will I do when my Clie SJ-33 dies? Because it will and it's a possibility I haven't thought about or planned for. I've had the thing since 2003 or so, it's never given me trouble, and, even though I don't use it as often as I once did, I still consider it indispensible for certain uses.

Read with interest your link to the reviews of the low-end Zire. It would be nice to upgrade my DocsToGo to a System 5 version so I could read PDFs. (And play the pretty Astraware games that don't work on System 3 machines.) I think a low-end Palm bought off of eBay would probably suit my minimal PDA needs nicely.

Oh -- and I do use a mix of digital/analog. I use PBWiki to track my active projects and project details, because I can access it from home (Windows PC) and work (Linux PC) whenever thoughts strike me. But I like my paper planner for the daily rough and tumble, scheduling, and so on.

I also realized recently that I'm an email personality, so I use to send me weekly or monthly reminders of things to do, my GTD weekly review, checklists, and so on. I check my email often and those reminders are part of an ever-evolving, never-to-be-fully-defined system.
May 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Hello Mike,

I've been a fan of yours over the years it goes back to my Palm III and you opened my world to what I could do with my Palm. As of about 4 months ago I made the change to paper. It was a hard choice since I felt so invested in what I did with the Palm. My issue was the similar, battery life, and it seemed like more work to keep up and I am a GTD fan and I felt the Palm wasn't the best way to oganize my next actions. I got a Blackberry through work and that eliminated the e-mail and calender aspect that I used my palm for. I still use my Palm (Clie), but more as a entertainment machine, specifically for reading, I can drop articles onto it for reading later and listening to MP3s. I'm still refining my paper system with DIY planner options but I feel like I've come full circle. Palm will always have a place but for my everyday organization, paper is my choice. Life's a journey and you don't know how good things are until you try other things.
May 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRondo
There is one thing you will want to consider. Paper is good, I suppose, if you live year to year, and don't need to refer back to previous years, and you work in your office most of the time.

On the other hand, if you do frequently refer to older information, or are at all mobile, and do a lot of your work outside your office, then paper may show itself insufficient--unfortunately, you won't notice it right away. You will begin to notice it probably after the first year--when you are no longer carrying last year's book with you. It's the trying to find old bits of information--phone numbers, names, or important bits of information that you need the next time you contact a person--that keep it from being the perfect solution.

In my case, the Newton solved my problem, and worked for years--even when it no longer synced with my Mac. My Newton has been a very low-maintenance device, and when its batteries die, you don't lose anything! In fact, I just recently resurrected a Newton that hasn't been used for years, and all of the previous owner's information was still there--in fact, alarms started going off for ancient meetings when I first turned it on! (the batteries had lost their charge years ago, and I had to put fresh ones in, and reset the device to get it to boot) ;-) A quick back up to a card (or two), and you have assurance that everything is safe and secure. :-) If you want the best of both worlds, you might try the Newton.

However, my point was not to plug the Newton, but to let you know of a potential pitfall that may not be thought of--until too late.


May 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJon Glass
A few things came to mind when I read this post:

1. Your first complaint seems to be about battery life and the fact that, with your current PDA, when the battery dies you lose your data. That's easily, but not necessarily cheaply, solved. The newer Palms do not have this problem. If the battery dies, your data is safe. It may not even be that expensive to solve. You can get a Palm Z22 for less than $100.

2. You say that you spend a lot of time "tweaking" your Palm, rather than getting things done. The implication seems to be that this tweaking is keeping you from getting things done and with paper, presumably, you would not tweak and you would get more done. Is this really the case? If you weren't tweaking your Palm, would you end up doing something else (besides what you think needs to get done)? Who knows, you might find yourself spending lots of time tweaking your iPod (since it would now replace part of what you use your Palm for). I suspect, being the artist you are, you would even find yourself tweaking your paper planner. I guess the question is: are you tweaking because you "need" to or because you "want" to? Is tweaking preventing you from accomplishing your tasks, or is the tweaking an unwritten task in itself?

3. As one other commenter mentioned, are you prepared to give up some of the efficiencies digital data provides? It's much easier to find digital data (in my opinion) than it is to find "physical" data. And, how much time would you spend (or "waste") constantly re-creating written lists, outlines, and page layouts when you move from page-to-page, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year?

I guess it's the old "beauty in the eye of the beholder" thing. You may enjoy working with paper more than a PDA, even if it ends up being no more efficient. Different strokes. Of course, the grass is always greener...
May 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterScott_H
Oh, one other thing. I forgot backup -- something I think you'll agree is pretty important. With a Palm (or any PDA), if you lose it you won't lose all of your data. Depending on your syncing and backup habits, you might lose a few hours or days worth of work. I'm not aware of any comparable method for backing up a "physical" notebook. Short of scanning or copying each page, if you lose the notebook, you lose your data.
May 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterScott_H
I have been a diehard PDA fan since 1999. I recently made the switch back to paper to manage my life and schedule. I will not switch back to the PDA for this again. I use the PDA now to manage my Contact list and passwords. The constant tweeking, playing, messing with the PDA programs and glitches became a big waste of time for me. I experience far less stress now that I can see my calendar before me on one page and my tasks on paper. Hey, it works and I'll keep using it. No shame!
May 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDean
I have used Agendus for years, mainly for the contact management. I have noticed as of late that it is just TOO much. I am looking for a replacement myself. I really want a simplistic way of scheduling and task management, but I need the contact management. As for paper, I could never go back. The TX allows me to go for days without a recharge. I remember the paper planner days all too well, all the bulk. And that was just for the planner. I have to have a wealth of information at my fingertips at all times because of what I do. A Palm handheld allows me to do this in a small package; plus carry around many other wonderful programs. A move to paper for me would be disastrous. I like the idea. I just need some help here. I am thinking of starting to use the native Palm apps, less is better. I just can't figure out how to link the contacts to the task. Help!
May 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBowhunter
I think you need to find a happy balance between `pure paper' and `pure electronic', instead of erring on the extreme of both. I'd strongly recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen, it's a well-written down-to-earth organizational method/system/cult that already has quite a following. Tasks are tasks- changing storage mediums won't make them different, it's the way you use/organize them that matters.

Bill Westerman's example, while nice, doesn't follow the GTD system. I'd advise splitting your schedule and tasks/`to-do's'- it can get messy and conversely MORE complex when you have to re-write all your tasks from the previous days, and tends to give task tunnel-vision. I should know, I used an A5 day-to-a-page diary for tasks, my schedule, notes, squiggles & `randoms', phone numbers, plans, etc, and flicking through
May 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBiggoggs
Above should read (didn't like <>);[...], and flicking through <365 days to find uncompleted tasks/notes is an exercise in inefficiency...
May 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBiggoggs
WOW! What excellent commentary here! Thanks to everyone for having a say. :-)

Now to some responses:

Hellene, thanks for the very thoughtful posting of your own palm and paper usage. Seems you have found a good combination of both Palm and Moleskine for your system! I too am finding a notebook beter for capturing my text and thoughts compared to using the Palm and Grafitti Classic.

As for the Newton, I almost got one back in the day, but decided against... but my friend Andy is a huge Newt fan and always talks about how advanced it was, even compared to some new technology today!

EdelmaK, DIY planner is excellent! I intend on using some print outs of the calendar pages in the Moleskine in fact (like the 2006 calendar and so on).

Mike Brown, Good to hear my thoughts have got you thinking about your situation � that's one part of the thinking here, to get people to consider their own systems and improve them if need be.

I really like the Zire 22 as a PDA and considered one before the Cli�, so it might work well for your needs. Your suggestion to use email is a great one, especially with Apple's iCal, which can email me about appointments if I like.

I think your last statement is key � these systems are always evolving for us, maybe less for some people, and more for others. I think I'm just realizing it's time to review my system.

Rondo, thanks for the kind words about being a fan! Sounds like we are in similar places with regard to oour Palms and systems... what you use your Palm for now sounds like where I plan to go (except MP3s are handled by a nano).

Jon Glass, Thanks for pointing out the referencial aspect of a Palm. I personally don't look back much � I think in the 9 years I've used a Palm device, I've looked back for some date or event maybe 3 times, so this isn't so much of an issue for me. More critical are my contacts when mobile, and that would be handled by the nano, which syncs to the Mac.

Newtons are very cool and I briefly had an old 120... but size wise they're just too large for my needs... one reason I like the Palm and Moleskine notebooks. Thanks for reminding me to consider the longer-term effects of a paper system!

Scott H, The Zire 22 is a device I'd considered and were it not for the Cli� I had access to, probably would have been my choice for the reason you suggest, battery and NVFS RAM.

As to tweaking � excellent point! Indeed, one can tweak a paper system to death as much as a PDA, so really my focus is on simplifying my system and experience, rather than finding a new thing to over-tweak. For me part of the issue at hand is some tweaking, but as I consider it, the issue is more "required maintenance" of not only charging and battery life, but sync issues, backup systems and so on. I kind of want to move away from those.

Finally, as to search and re-writing, yes, the digital is much more efficient in this way, though as this is my personal agenda and task solution, the requirements are pretty basic. My work agenda and tasks will be handled on the Mac (iCal/OmniOutliner) and this is where the bulk of my heavy use is. Personal is much simpler: Things like a potluck at church on Sunday, doctors appointment Wednesday, get an oil change in the car, etc. With the simpler needs here, the lack of search and need to re-write are not so detrimental to the system, and in fact are positives, since for this part of my life I'm re-connected to paper and pen and the enjoyment of the tactile.

Backup is an issue that's tough with paper, though I must adfmit, my personal life is pretty low-key, so I am willing to take my chances here. :-)

Dean, thanks for the note. Sounds like we are maybe similar in our situations too, still love our PDAs but just re-purposing them for other aspects of our lives.

Bowhunter, I'd suggest trying the stock Palm PIM apps as they are quite advanced yet still simple. Another app to try is Ks Datebook. Sounds like you make very good use of yout TX! Myself, I just am not mobile enough to make real use of my PDA as I used to... and I think this is a key: your PDA uses is highly dependent on your lifestyle. If I were a communter, I very likely would stay with a PDA and maybe consider a Treo, but as I'm at my Mac all day, the Palm just sits round most of the time.

Biggoggs, Excellent, excellent point about balance! I'm very much wanting to find the right combimnation of high and low tech which suits the needs I have. I don't want to stay with a Palm because it's the most advanced, if in my case paper works better for my needs.

On the other hand, I will not completely ditch my PDA for everything � it is still great for reading, access to encrypted data away from the Mac, and a few other things (especially for travel).

I have ready GTD several times and make use of many of its ideas in my life already, so thanks for the tip. I probably need to re-read it again and be reminded of its concepts.

As for splitting agenda and tasks, this is the way I plan to setup the home-made Moleskine I'm modifying... more on that soon. AFAIK, Bill Westerman's book is only for task management � he says on that Flickr page that he uses iCal for his agenda, so he also mixes his technology and analog tools.

Again, thanks to everyone for your comments and the time invested in sharing them here! I appreciate each one. :-)
May 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
You said:

"Newtons are very cool and I briefly had an old 120... but size wise they're just too large for my needs... one reason I like the Palm and Moleskine notebooks. Thanks for reminding me to consider the longer-term effects of a paper system!"

I need to look at the Moleskin books. When I moved from my DayTimer, I actually _lost_ weight and dimension!!! But I really needed a zipping book to keep my loose papers in, and prevent loose-leaf pages from tearing out... I would be so afraid of an open book that didn't seal somehow. But I shall be looking into the Moleskin....

I'm kind of anachronistic. Last year, while traveling all over the US, I _really_ went overboard on redundancy! I had my contacts and schedule in my Newton, my Powerbook, printed out in a DayTimer book, and another, separate list of names and meetings that I kept separate--oh, and all this was backed up and accessible on the web via my .Mac and my iDisk! So, I never really have given up paper. It's more short-term memory for me, and disposable (archive-able) when I'm done with it. ;-) I do appreciate what you've been posting here re: paper, as I do still use it for redundancy's sake. I shall be looking at this Moleskin stuff. ;-)


May 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJon Glass
Jon, Moleskines are very nice -- well made and worth the extra cost. As for stuff sliding out, that could be an issue, though they come with an elastic strap to hold them tightly shut and there is also a pocket on the back cover for things if you need that.

You are right about redundancy -- I often do that sort of thing when travelling (though maybe not to your degree! :-)

Do check out Moleskines: even for capturing ideas or thoughts they are quite nice.
May 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

I'm also a long time Palm user who found myself leaving home with out the Palm for the last year. After reading your blog I went out and bought a Moleskin Journal as well as a pack of Zebra G-301 Gel pens. I tried using the journal for about a week but towards the end of the week started taking both the Tungsten T and the Journal with me. Into the second week only the Tungsten T and after a little super glue to the old Franklin Convey belt case, I now am rediscovering my joy of Palm use and it is with me all the time. I just ordered the Palm TX and am looking foreward to being able to access my email via Wi-Fi as well as the 320X480 screen for pictures and documents.
August 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian B
I did the same thing, switched over to a paper planner after being a Palm fanatic. It was all new again, the paper and pen thing. So cool. At first. And then, slowly I started missing that PDA and the things it could do, namely repeating appointments, as well as carry everything from my work history and contacts to directions and plans. The paper was a good thing for a while. Sort of gets you all zenful and nostalgic, but there were just too many things that made me want my PDA back after several months of paper.

Any suggestions for what to do with a beautiful lined Moleskine still in wrapper?
September 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiora

After reading about the MIquelrius notebooks I spent most of yesterday trying to find how I could buy one and have it sent to the UK. I imagined it would be easy with eBay being my first port of call, but nobody seems to sell them and those that do won't ship to the UK. Eventually I found:

They sell the whole range, esp the ones in the image at the top of the page - shipping to the UK is approx $22 for 4 books which doesn't seem to bad. Go to the folling link to go straight to the right page

Just thought someone would like to know

Thanks for the tips

September 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterIan Hinckley
Brian, it was great to hear you gave paper a try and found renewed interest in the Palm. I'd really hoped this article would get readers thinking about their tools again, if even to make sure they are still doing what they want and need them to. Sounds like this exploration of paper for you reinforced your Palm as the right tool, and I think that's an excellent result.

Liora, I'd say keep that Moleskine with you as a note and idea capture device. As great as the Palm was when I used it, it never was hat great for immediate note-taking. I could make it work, but it was never as fluid or natural as paper still is for me. So, maybe it could fill this purpose for you.

Ian, Ian, thanks for the tip for UK readers. For US readers they are usually found at Barnes & Noble in the blank books area, and on various places on the web, as you have found. Thanks for the contribution!
September 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Just an update. Having ordered the pads on Sunday, they arrived today superbly packaged and in excellent condition. Just over three days from US to UK; when you consider the time difference this is fantastic service and only �32 in total including shipping. A5 Moleskines cost approx �10 and they're not as big. All round great value.

Hope this helps others to source and rely on this provider
September 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterIan Hinckley

Well, how is the paper venture going now?

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Farmer

Paul - still use paper for sketching of all sorts but don't carry a modified Moleskine like this - the iPhone has solved that for me. There are times I do miss paper for my schedule and tasks though!

October 14, 2010 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

I too have an iPad and an iPhone. Love them both more and more every day. However, I still like my paper. When I sit down at a meeting, people glare at me if I take out the electronics. But a pen and paper is easily accepted. I've used both the Anoto systems for about 5 years and really like the Livescribe for taking notes. It also records voice. But it won't fill out forms like the other systems. I have a love-hate relationship with everything right now in the mobile realm and was just looking for someone who knows more than a 5th grader.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Farmer

Agreed! Paper and pen have something that still can't be recreated for me even on the iPad or Wacom tablets. I think it's the feel of the physical elements.

I'm very curious about the LiveScribe, especially how it might capture my sketchnotes. A friend in the office has one and this note reminds me to borrow it for a night and give it a run-through!

October 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

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