How Do You Organize Yourself? And Do You Prefer Tactile or Tech?
January 7, 2005 6:52 AM   Subscribe

How do you all organize yourselves? I've been using a Palm Pilot for a couple of years now, but am thinking of switching over to a nice paper date book and index cards just because it'd be more tactile. Do you use paper or tech?

My Palm has worked pretty well for a couple of years, but my girlfriend just gave me a great Levenger index card wallet for Christmas, and so now I'm eyeing a Moleskine weekly diary and a to-do system something like this (based on Getting Things Done). I'm just wondering what all you aesthetically savvy, technologically literate MeFites use.
posted by josh to Work & Money (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Consider BeyondContacts for your Palm linked to Outlook on your PC(s). It is far more robust than the PalmOS basic PIM applications, and you can use Outlook to generate a wide variety of nicely-tactile paper documents.
posted by MattD at 6:57 AM on January 7, 2005


I have two Moleskine journals. One small lined for notes and lists, and one large squared for sketches. And lots of postit notes.

What is an index card wallet? (I didn't see anything called that, specifically, on their website)
posted by Hillman Cobs at 7:05 AM on January 7, 2005


Ah, but I'm on the Mac--right now I use iCal. This is my index card wallet thing.
posted by josh at 7:08 AM on January 7, 2005


Given that everywhere I have worked and probably plan to work in the next 10 years will be running Outlook, it made sense for me to have a diary which could sync with that.

Back in the 2000 days, Palm's ruled, but their syncing with Outlook was limited (not all fields, silly 4k limit) and so I eventually move to a PocketPC around the time they stopped sucking (PocketPC 2002).

These days, I'm led to believe that Palm's syncing with Outlook is better but not as good as the PocketPC's unless you buy additional software (which then means any other applications that try to access the internal palm db won't work any more, because it'll be empty). Sadly PocketPC development has been stagnating in the last few years because of a lack of credible rival to keep them on their toes.

Finally, you could use a phone/pda combo. However most of these are only really good at one thing. For example, the Sony Ericsson P900/P910 is a good phone but a mediocre PDA and the T-Mobile MDA is a good PDA but a mediocre phone.
posted by ralawrence at 7:13 AM on January 7, 2005


i just switched to an ipaq...

I love it, and it comes with batteries. So I also have a ledger that I write stuff down with.

High maintenance? yes. But like I said, my ipaq has batteries...and it sucks if I don't charge it and that thing flatlines.

To add a thought to ralawrence's very good post. While I think the Pda/Phone is a GREAT thing (and I wanted one, so very bad), I also think it could be a disaster because you are putting your eggs all in one basket. If you accidently drop it, it fries, you lose it or the dog eats it...you are screwed. Not just screwed because that device is going cost you 600 to buy it again, but now your phone AND personal data assistant is gone too.

Don't get me wrong, I think they are cool as hell...but I've always been against the all-in-one thing.

Here are some reviews to pda's. As stated, I like my ipaq just fine, but I also like my paper notebook just as well.
posted by Hands of Manos at 7:45 AM on January 7, 2005


I've been working with Mozilla's Sunbird and it works alright for simple to-do and appointment type things. It also supports iCalendar so can work nicely with Outlook. The ability to store it remotely via WebDAV is nice too.

OTOH, thanks for your link, josh. I'm picking up my copy of GTD from the library this evening and have been thinking about how to implement the system myself. I think I'd ultimately like to go paper-based because doing it all online catches me away from a computer so the item either gets dropped or lost. Keeping two parallel calendars just doesn't work well for me either.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2005


I picked up an imitation moleskin at a local art store. half the price and they come in great designs-I'm tracking my new year's resolution in green and yellow argyle with a hot pink band. It appears as well constructed as my SO's real moleskin.
posted by poipill at 8:02 AM on January 7, 2005


I was an early adopter with PDAs, still have an original Palm Pilot in my desk and two or three successor models, including a Sony palm-clone with a memory stick.

I no longer use them.

Phone numbers - in my cell phone.

Lengthier contact information, calendar, etc. stored in Yahoo's address book, calendar, notepad areas (note: you can sync this up with a Palm Pilot if you want with Intellisync.)

My paper PDA substitute these days: reporter's notebooks. Basically a half-width steno pad. They slip easily into a hip pocket or jacket pocket. I go through two or three a month, easily.
posted by enrevanche at 8:06 AM on January 7, 2005


I use a nice small weekly planner that I can keep in my purse for appointments, meetings, etc. I store phone numbers on my cell phone and email addresses in my Yahoo address book.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:08 AM on January 7, 2005


Macro view - Since the mid-90s I've used the Date and ToDo functions of my PDA to list appointments and deadlines. A recent purchase of a Treo allows me to keep only one set of telephone numbers (Treo is backed up on my desktop and laptop)

I keep separate notebooks for each project underway, and also have a 'general' notebook where everything else goes in.

Micro I - Every morning I write out a list of daily to-do's on a plain piece of notepaper, and cross each out as completed

Micro II - I update relevant Dates/ToDos in the Treo at the end of the day

This works well but I feel I could do even better - this is why I'm cracking open a fresh GTD book
posted by seawallrunner at 8:19 AM on January 7, 2005


I assume that you've looked through 43 Folders. Anyone interested in implementing GTD should check it out. I have a funny reaction when I read it, like I wish I had more going on that I needed to organize. As it is, a simple date book more than covers my needs.
posted by OmieWise at 8:30 AM on January 7, 2005


I still use my PalmPilot, for what it's worth.
posted by grouse at 8:35 AM on January 7, 2005


Palm Pilot - 2 months, then never used again
iPAQ - 6 months, then never used again
Blackberry - 18 months, and don't even think about taking it away from me ... (it aint called crackberry for nothing)

I have several (4) email accounts including gmail and yahoo, plus Outlook/Exchange at work. Meeting notices, emails, most attachments viewable, I've stored written song lyrics on it, grocery lists, cruised the web (the browser sucks, but so do all cell phone browsers, and the MeFi site crashes it).
With the ability to surf the web and access Google, I now have no excuse for not knowing anything instantly (which is not a good thing, since I still remain a lazy bastard at heart).
posted by forforf at 8:35 AM on January 7, 2005


I'm one of the "I used to use a PDA ..." crowd.

My problem with PDAs is that I would either leave them some place, I'd drop them (and break them) or I'd otherwise completely use and abuse them until they dropped dead of exhaustion. After going through three metal-bodied iPaqs in the same year, I switched back to paper, which is much harder to kill.

I carry an A4-sized monthly planner with me in my brief/laptop case. I tend to prefer Day Runner products, personally, but at-a-glance stuff works as well ... I just don't think their layouts are as readable. The planner has two of those black metal binder clips at the top on the front and back that make the current month easy to flip to. They also hold business cards that I need to have accessible and scraps of paper that have notes scribbled on them. The pages of the planner have small half-sized post-it-notes on them where I need to have detailed information, and otherwise just track places I have to be and when I have to be there.

The advantages are: as long as I don't lose the planner (and it's big enough to make it hard), I won't lose my data to a crash. The data is also compatible with everything, so there's no risk of me having an icompatibility if, say, I run over an old iPaq with my car and find that the new iPaq munges data differently. Oh, and that's another good point ... the planner is pretty much unbreakable. Data input is easy, and I don't have to learn to write over again or spend twenty minutes poking at a keyboard to get my friend's impossible-to-spell polish name in.

The disadvantages are: No reminders unless I look at it. If I lose it, I'm screwed ... backups are kinda hard. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 8:55 AM on January 7, 2005


I dove whole heartily into the tech organizing craze back when Palm Pilots were released. I've recently tried it again. However, nothing really works as well as 3M sticky notes and a pocket notebook. Sometimes I'll use a voice recorder for notes to self on the drive.
posted by sled at 8:56 AM on January 7, 2005


I've been using a Palm for 7 years and still don't leave home without it. Haven't seen any need to upgrade beyond my m515. I use Life Balance for a hierarchical to do list. It's not the best app I can imagine, but it comes the closest I've found to how I'd like to use one.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:07 AM on January 7, 2005


Dedicated Palm user since 1999. Wherever I go, I can access my calendar going back to 1999, and everyone I've met since then. In the future, when biographers piece together my life, they will have a relatively easy time. I'm the Thomas Jefferson of PDA users.

Paper is fine, I guess, but without alarms, I'd miss every meeting.
posted by profwhat at 9:13 AM on January 7, 2005


I write everything down into a raw notebook, then process it daily and weekly to get the important stuff into a palm pilot (for a todo list and meeting reminders) and project notebooks.

Some good resources:
Notebooks Wiki
Del.Icio.Us Notebooks tag
43 Folders
Delicious GTD tag

(..And for a good notebook that fits in your pocket, The "Fat Lil' Notebook" from Mead is great. 5.5"x3.5"x200 pages. Part number 45388)

posted by Laen at 9:13 AM on January 7, 2005


I had my Palm V die recently (broken screen) and I was lost for the time it took my new Zire 72 to arrive.

I started with a Day Runner years ago and then bought one of the Franklin Rex credit card organizers. That died quickly and I bought the Palm. I went about two years printing my daily calendar from Outlook alongside using the Palm. Eventually, I went from daily to weekly to abandoning paper altogether. My executive Day Runner folder now just holds papers and other odds and ends. Everything else is in the Palm, which I sync with both my work PC and my home Mac (redundant backups are a Good Thing).

For brainstorming and sketching I use nothing more high tech than an quadrule pad or a spiral bound notebook and a 0.7mm pencil.
posted by tommasz at 9:21 AM on January 7, 2005


I have a funny reaction when I read it, like I wish I had more going on that I needed to organize.

Yeah... me too. I mean, it's pretty easy to remember the one or two meetings a week I typically have, and when I need to call someone, I just scroll back through my caller ID or dialing history and there they are. I use my iPaq mostly as a small laptop -- getting e-mail, the occasional Web page, etc. If something's important, I remember it. If I don't remember it, nobody else will either, which means it wasn't that important, was it?
posted by kindall at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2005


My boss from about 10 years back was a Franklin planner addict and she got me hooked. I can't live without it, with the caveat that I have never taken the course and don't bother with all the annoying "State your life goals" stuff. But, organization wise, it's awesome. Address book, daily - monthly planning, notebook - it all zips into one and fits in my purse. I use the compact size and buy the inserts yearly. Tried a Palm and gave up in disgust, forget it, paper is still the medium of choice for some things.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:35 AM on January 7, 2005


I still find a simple ruled notebook to work best for me. It's low-tech but I think the reason it works is that its highly felxible: Some days take a few lines others take a few pages. Its automatically in chronological order since I use up the pages sequentially. It can accomodate lists, drawings, sketches, stuff pasted in and anything you can throw at it.

My only feature request would be a search function since I do spend some time paging back and forth looking for that one particular note.
posted by vacapinta at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2005


Gothlaundry: you are so right.

I am addicted to my Franklin planner. 3 years and still going strong. Everything from lunch dates with friends and birthdays to work tasks and meetings.

I took the class...it was great starting point, but the goals stuff was kinda hokey.

There are stores you can go in and check out too.
posted by bikergirl at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2005


I just discovered Treepad (free version) and am hooked. I have it automatically mailed home every evening so I have it there as well. I often carry a small paper notebook (or at least some one-side blank business cards in my wallet) and if I need to, I print out part of my Treepad file. I use some of the ideas from GTD to organize my to-do list and projects. I use Yahoo! Calendar (free!) to send a text message to my cellphone for important reminders.
posted by callmejay at 11:15 AM on January 7, 2005


Moleskine date book. It doesn't have that search function but it does have one reprogramable bookmark.
posted by fixedgear at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2005


OS X: voodoopad lite (very cool wiki)
posted by mecran01 at 2:25 PM on January 7, 2005


we have a stack of index cards. in the morning we look at the old card, write down what we didn't do on the new card, date it and fold it in half and put it in our pants pocket for the day. repeat next morning. we have a calendar on the wall of the bedroom for remembering important dates, and we use the mac address book thingdoo for keeping track of phone numbers. Once a month or so I upload a comma separated list of the phone numbers and addresses to a hidden dir on my web site. it's a pretty basic life, then again I work in an office where the schedules are written in pencil on a sheet of hand-made graph paper [bearing no resemblance to an actual calendar in layout] and only one copy is available in the central office. it is frequently missing.
posted by jessamyn at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2005


Has anyone here ever used a Planner Pad? I've been getting one every year for the last 4 years and I love it. It's kind of like a regular calendar/day planner, but the concept is more like the GTD system (which I heard about for the first time just now reading this thread.)

Planner Pads website

When you lay the pad open, you see a full week with three horizontal areas. At the top, you can brainstorm all the things you want to get done, categorized by project. Then you move down to the second section and fine tune the tasks you need to take care of day by day. Then the bottom area is for actual scheduling of tasks.

They call it the "funnel system" and it's a great way to visualize a long week of stuff to do.

I also use a Palm, but mine's built into my phone, so it always goes where I go. I highly recommend the "Palm Phone" for people who don't want to carry around two devices. I don't use the built in "To Do" list on the Palm, I use BugMe which is a GREAT app! It's basically sticky notes that BEEP at you.
posted by evoo at 6:47 PM on January 7, 2005


I use the Samsung SPH-i500 cellphone/PDA and it is the best I ever had. I tried to use a Palm Pilot, but I always left it at home or the office, and since I don't use a briefcase or carry my laptop, I can't carry a notebook.
posted by Penks at 8:53 PM on January 7, 2005


Another vote for a smartphone — they're starting to get reasonable. There is always the Treo, of course, but I am using a Audiovox 5600 (with AT&T), which I'm really happy with: it's a great phone and syncs perfectly with Outlook.
posted by brool at 10:37 PM on January 7, 2005


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