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Anyone using PDA and Paper Combo?

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  • Anyone using PDA and Paper Combo?

    Hi everyone.

    First the backstory:

    I got out of grad school in 1997 and started working and trying to use a DayTimer. It did not work because it was huge and ugly and I hated carrying it around. In February 1998, I bought a Palm III, which worked well for me. It was fun to use, and always with me. I have used PDAs ever since.

    The things that made the PDA work for me were that it was always with me and that it forced structure on me. I could not cram paper into it or write in the margins. I had to do it right. However, this created a messed-up thought process in me: it made me think everything has to be all digital or all analog. There can be no intermingling of the two. I have no idea where this came from, but it became my predeominant way of thinking. It was like I was afraid of betraying the PDA cause, having too much to carry, or something else crazy.

    Fast-forward to today:

    I have a Treo so I don't have to carry planner and (e)books and phone and to-do list and notepad and address book, etc. However, now I have read GTD and now cannot live without the GTD Outlook Plug-in.

    Yet there is something unexplainably intriguing about the Hipster PDA and the Moleskine. I cannot give up a digital planner (my addresses just HAVE to be perfectly alphabetized). Even though I am, after eight years of PDA use, pretty darn fast at input, I have found I am less likely to write down everything in the Treo as I am in my (just made today) hPDA. I also spend WAY TOO MUCH time looking at Treo-related junk online when I should be actually living life.

    The Hipskine (desktop + moleskine) is an idea I never thought about. It seems redundant, but GTD is not about the fastest way. It is about the best way, right?

    If anyone is using some combination of PDA/Smartphone and paper, I would love to hear how you make it work.

  • #2
    PDA and paper


    I use a combination of PDA, planner and cards.

    The PDA stores my phone numbers and addresses, and future hard landscape appointments. When I make a date to do something in the future it is entered onto the PDA. This is then synced with the laptop later for security (in case my PDA ever went missing). It doesn't have an email facility so that is done on the Desktop or Laptop.

    I use index cards as my context lists and projects lists. These are either hung on a cork board by binder clips and pins or held in a wallet to be carried around. All my next actions are written here, any thing I want to remember when I'm in the wrong place or time, anything someone tells me that I may need to refer to later, a list of the code numbers for the cartridges that I buy regularly, etc.

    I also use a planner (Filofax) with DIY pages and blank pages, for daily notes, details of incoming calls, and a hand drawn mind map of each days events (drawn before bed), a sort of summary of the day. I will brainstorm projects in here so that I have a hard copy in some sort of chronological order.

    A friend offloaded a huge pile of note paper onto me ages ago with a cute little mouse in the bottom left corner. I don't use it for its original purpose but once a week I print the next weeks calendar DIY pages onto the back, file them in my planner and use that side for any hard landscape appointments and anything that has to be done at some point on that particular day (taken from my PDA at the weekly review). I use the reverse of each sheet for my mindmapping. Much cheaper than buying Filofax paper!

    I hope my waffling helps a little.



    • #3
      whatever works, I'd say

      Hi 4ster. I think it's great that you're evaluating your tool usage. As many others have pointed out, GTD is tech-agnostic, so I'd say go with the preferences you're discovering. Here's a quick summary (from "Organized for Success" by Stephanie Winston):

      digital: reference, connectivity;
      paper: capture, memory prompting

      However, in the end the tool doesn't matter; the habit of daily processing is more important.


      P.S. Here are a few other resources:

      * Paper vs. electronic -

      Many great tips, plus a table comparing the two approaches.

      * 6 Criteria for Deciding if an Electronic or Paper Calendar is Best for You

      * Paper versus electronic organizer quiz


      • #4
        Heh. I took the quiz, and it sayd, "You could probably benefit from a hybrid system, like using a paper calendar and carrying a SmartPhone to retrieve your email while on the road."


        • #5

          Your story sounds remarkably similar to mine. I converted from a Daytimer to a Palm Pro in 97, and promptly embarked on an "all digital" crusade. Now I'm using a Kyocera/Palm smartphone and a moleskine.

          I keep all my todo's, projects lists, s/m's, addresses etc. digital. I simply use the moleskine as a capture device for meeting/call notes and brainstorming. I'm pretty fast with graffiti, but not fast enough for effective notetaking. I then enter the "bare minimum" action items to the PDA, and, if needed, add a "p123" in the todo note field as a trigger to reference page 123 in the moleskin for more info. The "bare minimum" may also include some extra tidbits from the moleskin for things like errands when I know I won't be carrying the moleskine.

          I glanced at the Hipskine; it looks like a solution for someone who doesn't have a PDA. Digital still has so many benefits IMHO... search, backup, editing, convienence etc. Can't give that up.

          I also empathize with your "Treo-related junk" comment (hey, is posting on the GTD forum really the best thing I could be doing right now? ) I try to limit my "treasure hunting" to once a week. If I find something of interest, I do a quick, 30sec sanity check... how much time will this app really save me? how long will it take me to implement it? That usually stops it.


          • #6
            I am, I am!


            I started with paper moved electronic and came back again and now use both.

            Here's a thread I started a while ago on this topic:


            Right now I'm using (subject to my changing whims of course ) Franklin Covey Classic size binder with 2 inch rings and 2 page per day refills and a Palm Tungsten T3 with Wi-Fi card and 1GB storage card. I velcro the T3 into the binder along with my Motorola E815 cell phone and the compact Palm keyboard.

            It's a regular traveling nerd kit! But it works for me.