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Paper or PDA

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  • Paper or PDA

    I carry my old (well not THAT old!!!) Palm m505 with me everywhere and wonder whether I should have all my "stuff" together on paper for my weekly reviews and duplicate most of it onto the Palm, or the other way around; have ALL the "stuff", one idea per piece of paper in the paper system with what's applicable on the Palm.

    I've got my Palm set up as David suggests, i.e. the Tasks button has @subjects for contexted next-actions related to projects, then Projects and Someday/Maybe files.

    Memos is used for lists.

    The argument for paper is it feels good to have something "real" in my hand when doing the review.

    The PDA argument is that I can do partial reviews anywhere and the "official" review when I'm at my office and can look at supporting materials duplicated in the paper system.

    'Though I like gadgets, I'm not a gadget freak and don't want to use the Palm dominant approach just 'cause I've got it if the Paper dominant approach is better.

    Suggestions anyone?????

    Last edited by Will Wyatt; 09-29-2006, 02:54 PM. Reason: made clearer

  • #2
    Look for the threads "Simplicity and the triumph of paper. Maybe." and "An apology for the status quo" in the GTD Forum. Both sides of the issue explained their reasons at length.



    • #3
      As Katherine say's read the two threads ... good arguments for and against.

      Additionally, take a good long look and think about what works best for you.

      For my money I've moved to a hy-bread system of part electronic and part paper. The issue for me is the degree between the two! Part of that debate lies in the devices that are out there. Electronically, I'm waiting for Cingular to roll out the new Treo models before making a final decision. This would give me a phone and PDA in 1 device. Presently I would need 2 (phone + PDA) unless i went for the 650 model. For paper I'm a long time Folifax and scrap paper fan and see little reason to change.

      What ever the out come it must work for you ...


      • #4


        Thanks for your reply. I've read both threads and decided that my first thought, of a hybrid, mostly PDA based will be right for me.

        I really loved the thought of GTD being "Tool-Agnostic", which says as much about the universality of the concepts as anything.



        • #5
          I like the hybrid approach

          I reckon both paper and PDA are great tools. For me its come down to separating out the stages.

          Except obviously for email, I like to capture on paper. Despite what anyone says, as a 10 year Palm (and occasionally PPC) power user, its faster to capture on paper. And theres a wonderful feeling to it.

          When I process, I process into a PDA (Treo) based system. In most situations, I process through the PC into the desktop software.

          Then I have my lists with me everywhere....




          • #6

            That's exactly what I'm doing; capturing on paper, entering on the desktop into Palm desktop software, some things left in files at the office, (for example, reviews of books I'm interested in, no need to enter those), then my "Weekly" review done on the desktop, with paper supporting materials PRN, but 95% of everything is in the Palm, with me wherever I go for the most part anyway.

            Thanks all.



            • #7
              I struggled for the longest time to find the right mix between PDA and paper. I'm a gadget freak so I always leaned towards the PDA, but the data entry was only so fast. The answer for me turned out to be the Tablet PC. Since you can actually write on it it's as fast as paper and can be edited even quicker. I've hardly touched my PDA since I got the tablet and the lack of mounds of paper everywhere makes me feel more organized. Of course the downside is the cost and size.


              • #8
                Tablet PC

                Is there a similar Mac-compatible device?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Will Wyatt
                  Is there a similar Mac-compatible device?
                  Not yet, but rumors abound.

                  Check out for a very good Table PC site with an active forum.


                  • #10
                    re: Integrating Digital & Paper Inventories


                    If you run your life on a Mac computer you may like trying out the new set of Applescripts I just released called "Ready-Set-Do!" and downloading the "Sync iCal ToDos" plug-in that comes with it. If you don't run your life on a Mac, then you may still be interested in the backstory that led me to end up developing them. See especially the sections on "Falling Prey to Temptation: Total Reduction & the "Pefect" Program" and the "The 'Downside' of Lists & the Power of One-At-A-Time." at the link below.

                    RSD Backstory

                    Briefly, though, you will find that trying to shoehorn your life into all paper or all digital is just not going to be possible in the digital age. Some type of integration will be necessary. If you really want to go all-paper you can try taking a look at the Hipster PDA approach some are writing about on the web. What I've found though is 2 major things:

                    1. There will always be a paper inventory. And of this paper inventory most of it will be in the 8 x 11 format. I have done what you have with 1 folder and 1 8x11 paper having one idea on it. I slap a post-it note on the front of each one with the location context and next action. And when I do my Weekly Review each week I make stacks on my floor putting all of the @ Home together, all of the @ Office together etc. Then I look at which stacks are getting the thickest and I sort the stacks by putting those locations that are getting the thickest at the top. And I put them all back in my Actionable folder. (I don't use multiple folders for multiple contexts any more because I've just found that that multiplicity gives me too much to review -- I've just found it better to have 1 Actionable folder with organized items by location context and I can just review that folder every day to get the items done.) I also am not a big fan of keeping non 8x11 items in my Actionable folder and so if I process a 3x5 card or a post-it note or a napkin I've written on, I grab a blank 8x11 paper (which I keep in a tray underneath my physical Inbox) and write whatever is on those things on the 8x11 paper and put that into my Actionable folder with next action and location context specified. So far this is working well for me.

                    2. PDA's have limits. People who want their entire inventory on their PDA take more pride in having everything organized in the palm of their hand than they do in actually getting things done. At some point it becomes ridiculous to have your entire inventory of projects and actions on your handheld device with the viewing space the size of a 3x3 Post-It Note, and to scroll, scroll, scroll to find what you're looking for. What I've found is that I don't need to review my Waiting Fors as often as I need to review my "Actionables" and "Read-Reviews" -- and there is also no reason for me to have my @ Online or @ Computer actionables or read-reviews on my handheld device since I would rather/must be at my computer to get them done. So I limit the items on my handheld to only location contexts and reading I don't have to be at my computer for and I keep my computer and online related actionables and reading on my computer to do. And I do those when I'm at my computer. I likewise review my waiting fors when I do my weekly review as I've found that is about the frequency I need to stay on top of those.

                    Not sure if any of this is useful at all. But that's what's been working for me.

                    Todd V
                    Last edited by Todd V; 08-08-2012, 01:43 PM.