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Developing a "toolbox"

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  • Developing a "toolbox"

    The more I've been comparing different information gathering methods, the more I've realized that sometimes you just need to have a "toolbox" of ways to collect information. (This may be obvious to some of you who've been doing this for a while, but maybe it'll help generate some ideas for other folks...)

    I use a planner for my main system. I've got it set up (at least for now) the way that's best for me. Sometimes I can't get to it to record a note or idea. I have a Note section as an Inbox in the planner. So, what are my other choices..? Here's what I've been using:

    1. Digital recorder - used when driving, great one handed operation (Sony IDC-35)
    2. "Hipster PDA" - I read about this after someone posted it here and it's perfect for those quick and dirty notes you have to take. I've been able to write down a note while I'm teaching, without interrupting the flow of my lesson. The 3x5 cards are already a favorite tool of mine.

    (Naturally, I try to process these bits of information as soon as possible)

    I try not to have too many tools since that can easily lead to loss of information, but I think it's important to have some options depending on your situation.

    What items do you have in your toolbox and how do they work for you?

  • #2
    My toolbox now contains four low cost components:

    1. A secondhand leather Time System binder. I use with one blank A5 paper for each peice of capture. This is in a section of the binder.

    2. The hipster PDA solution - for when I don't have my binder with me - with a trusted Rotring multi-pen.

    3. My mobile phone's answering service where I record reminders - these are later downloaded to the binder.

    4. One liner Emails sent to self with the heading - CAPTURE.

    All of these are put into my inbox (tray) prior to processing ...


    • #3
      1. I am one step short of the Hipster PDA--I didn't add the binder clip. I've been using cards from Levengers--the lines are parallel to the short side of the card. They're also sturdier. I'll try the binder clip upgrade today.

      2. I use a PDA (Handspring Edge) mainly for keeping massive amounts of reference material in a small space--comprehensive contact info, computer bookmarks and login info, daily expenses. Subway maps, city reference program--nearest ATM, shops, restaurants, public bathrooms, telephones, movie theaters/starting times, etc. relative to wherever I am at that moment. Thesaurus, scientific calculator, shopping lists. Book excerpts, outlines of procedures.

      PDA programs have to have a desktop component--no way would I input all this directly. Plus then I have a copy on the computer.

      3. My FiloFax was revived after long storage, because it's smaller than the heavy-duty planners I used for some years. I still had filler pages and gadgets, so it was also cheap and familiar. I added little clear pockets (left over from some other long-abandoned system) to hold 3x5 cards (the Levenger) but will now rethink this, what with the whole binder clip innovation. *

      4. I'm adding an MP3 player (MuVo Slim) which also records: memos to self, meetings, whatever. I can listen to audiobooks on the train or on the running trail.

      *Before the FiloFax I was using the Levenger Circa system--my absolute favorite of all time. But they stopped making daily pages for the agenda, and they also stopped selling blank sheets so I could print them out myself. Punch my own paper? Too messy with unreliable results. But this system is how I got started with the 3x5 cards in the first place. (sigh)


      • #4
        Circa PDA

        I use a PDA too, but still love the written form, since I don't lose my data and can see everything in a glance (or two). Because of this, I modified the hipster PDA into what I'd call a "Circa PDA" using Levenger discs and some plastic cover material. I punch my own cards for it, which works well, and use the forms for the 3x5 cards.

        You can see the final results of what I did at

        I have found it to be extremely useful and very effective as well... You don't have to shuffle cards, just pop them in and out, and yet the binding system holds the cards nicely and it looks good enough to take into a board room to boot. I also keep a couple of blank versions of this in my office, my car, and on the nightstand to jot down notes, which later get emptied into the main CircaPDA.

        Hope you find this useful. Let me know if you have questions on either how I use the CircaPDA or how I built one.