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Using paper; sensitive information in your trusted device and system?

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  • Using paper; sensitive information in your trusted device and system?

    Do you put in personal sensitive information? I guess this question applies for both personal and professional information. Using smartphones and digital tools, this can to some extend be handled with built-in security mechanisms (though corporate directives may conflict with this behavior), but when using paper, your trusted device, you paper planner may fairly easily be compromised or even lost. The mix of personal and work information could also be tricky. Are you having concerns about the information you enter?

    How about goals? Do you have them in your paper system you bring along? Goals on a near-runway level could maybe be considered less sensitive, but high level strategic information could pose a real problem. Jotting down personal ambition of establishing a consulting company competing with your current employer, private tax matters and investments and family issues could make me feel a bit uncomfortable. But to do GTD in a comitted way, I believe you have to be consistent on your way of working and dividing you system too much could cause some frustration.

    Of course I would never ever put any password or login information in my paper based system - this would always go into a protected system like KeePass (on a USB stick for portability).


  • #2
    Why I go Digital

    Security is another reason to go digital, if you are diligent about backups, and protecting your data on your devices.

    I carry the details of all levels of GTD, from the why am I here personal purpose statement to my goals all with me all the time. I even occasionally review or re-read it when I have a few moments to wait somewhere

    Interesting though I actually do keep all passwords, bank accounts, investment info and other sensitive data backuped as a hard copy, but edited on my machine in Open Office. I keep the files in an encrypted partition and the hard copy is in a media safe.

    When I was using a paper planner and before really doing GTD stuff, about 20 years ago I carried all my goals and stuff in my "bible". I used a junior size loose leaf planner with pages I created to match my own day and it was with me all the time. I used it instead of a purse. Actually I carried a large purse that it fit in and that was the criteria for buying a purse was that my planner had to fit in it as it was also my wallet. Now if I was doing paper I'd invest in a nice leather zipper planner with a shoulder strap and ditch the purse.

    The sense of freedom when I managed to get my paws on the first US Robotics Palm Pilot was amazing and I've never gone back to paper for more than a week since then and only during a conversion from one digital system to another.


    • #3
      sensitive and paper

      It is possible to carry sensitive information on paper, but you have three options:
      1) carry plain information, and keep track of it like you would an infant. Most people don't even do this much.
      2) semi-encode your information. For example, create a fake "Books to Read" list with ISBN numbers that are your account numbers. To the casual observer, it appears valueless. You could retrieve with some effort, while not as slow as option #3.
      3) fully encode your information. This would be a nightmare on paper, but your data would be as safe as it could be.

      The only safe way to put sensitive information on paper is to use one-time pads... think of it as encrypting your paper data. Knowing that, it is a nearly useless solution. The problem is when you need some information from the paper, you have to go back and decode the information, as it is gobbledygook.

      Any of the above can also be hidden, to add an additional level of safety.

      Going digital is far better in this regard. Nowadays we can carry hundreds of thousands of pages of text, documents, and multimedia in our pockets, and with relatively simple and free tools, keep them absolutely safe. Yes, I said absolutely.

      In nearly all security areas, humans are the weak link. Don't bother carrying sensitive data on paper if you leave it in your purse in your unlocked car, or just tuck it into your wallet.