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New word processor/paper-based system

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  • New word processor/paper-based system

    For six years Iíve been using a paper planner system with elements of Franklin/Covey and GTD. I have a nice compact-size FC binder, and have had everything in it: monthly calendars, daily pages, next action and project lists, gift lists, sections for various projects and roles, inspiration quotes, planning notes, lists of things borrowed and lentÖyou get the idea. For a long time it worked quite well in some ways. I wrote daily to-do lists on the daily pages and used the note side of each day for capture. The GTD stuff wasnít working as well. I tended to write things on Next Actions and then not do them, and not want to look at the NA lists out of guilt. Then this year I started not using the daily pages either. So Iíve done a complete system revamp.

    One reason Iíve changed is that since a car accident three years ago Iíve had trouble with my arms and hands. Writing by hand isnít as easy as it used to be, although I still enjoy it. I therefore find myself wanting to type things on the computer rather than write them. Also, I work at home, so my context is almost always the computer, with Internet always accessible now that I have DSL (another change this spring). Iím out of the office on errand days (which I try to consolidate) and when I travel. Iíve never wanted a PDA because the view is too small. I like expansiveness.

    So hereís my new experimental system. It has a couple of elements I havenít heard of other people using so far. Iíd love to hear if anyone has tried something similar.

    At home Iím based on the computer in several Word documents which remain open all the time, and a hard copy monthly calendar (just switched from the FC planner to a thin simple At-a-Glance).
    Planning: Daily appointments and assigned tasks for the day, to which I refer repeatedly during the day.
    AND a tickler file right in Word! Iíve always resisted taking the file space for the tickler file. So what I have is a list of the days for the rest of the month, and then a list of months. Under each one I can type reminders or whatever. So part of the file right now looks like this (with some things more spelled out than they really are). In Word Iíve set up a style with the heading and subheading levels in bold and not bold type.

    Thurs 6/15:
    Partnerís last day of school for the year
    Four hours: start with SI presentation, set up Smith [current indexing job]
    Call re flower quote (with phone number)
    call photographer: (with phone number)
    call Mel re sound system
    Burn CDs for Anna
    Call Mom re BBQ
    Softball 8:45? Out to dinner?
    Fri 6/16:
    Call Parties to Go with final number of glasses
    Phone appointment 12:00
    BBQ with Mom?
    Sat 6/17:
    Friendís graduation party?
    Sun 6/18:
    Mon 6/19:
    Tues 6/20: daughter arrives
    Wed 6/21:
    Pay VISA bill
    Get car serviced
    Smith River art weekend? (Sarah and Mary)
    Friendís birthday Sept. 3
    Art class Iím teaching starts week of Sept. 25
    First Friday Sept 1: DIVA demonstration?
    mail Oct interest check

    Other Word files:

    Next Actions, divided by context (Iím currently experimenting with some more mood-based contexts like ďmindless,Ē ďcreate,Ē and ďconcentrated time.Ē)
    Projects, divided by role (one of the things I love about Coveyís stuff). In the Projects file, I can type in next actions, ideas and information about each project. Hard-copy stuff goes in files in my file cabinet right next to me. Large projects (like our upcoming commitment ceremony) get their own Word files.

    Away from home: everything goes in my bag, a messenger-bag shaped canvas bag with a couple of pockets on the outsides.
    --9x12 pad holder notebook, with a top-down lined pad (thus no annoying spiral scraps when I tear out a page) and a pocket on the left. This holds a printout of my Next Actions list (which includes errand details) and sometimes a paper project to work on or ongoing notes on something (on pages torn from the pad). Itís not too bulky or heavy, and I can flip the cover to the back for a smaller writing surface.
    --small spiral notebook for capturing information. (Iím waiting for someone to give me a moleskine for this purpose!) This gets ideas for next actions, money spent, peopleís phone numbers, etc. Then at home I process into appropriate places, including the Word files. Iím loving the expansiveness of a whole notebook to write whatever I want (instead of the one daily planner page I was using for this purpose). I have found myself thinking of more, and more interesting, things to write down.
    --At-a-Glance monthly calendar.

    When I'm traveling I often do planning/review work, so I will print out the Project and Planning files and stick them in the big notebook too.

    Iím still figuring out where to put a couple of pages of reference information that I want with me on errands. For now theyíre tucked into the big notebook pocket, but Iím not sure I like that.

    Iím feeling very nervous, having moved from the everything-in-one-notebook, infant method (never let it out of your sight) to basically four different sites (Word files, monthly calendar, big notebook, small notebook). But it also feels good.

    Thanks for listening! Iíd love feedback!

    Do Mi
    Last edited by DStaub11; 06-15-2006, 01:33 AM. Reason: add sig links

  • #2
    Sounds interesting...

    Do you have all your next actions in seperate Word docs?

    one for @Office another for @home etc?


    • #3
      Originally posted by Foxman
      Sounds interesting...

      Do you have all your next actions in seperate Word docs?

      one for @Office another for @home etc?
      No, they're all in the same doc, with a header and list for each context.


      • #4
        How much traveling do you do?

        Originally posted by DStaub11
        Thanks for listening! Iíd love feedback!
        I agree that keeping things in four different places may be a cause for concern, but I think it depends on how often you are "out and about," away from those places.

        How much actual traveling do you do? If it turns out to be a lot, you may end up wanting travel versions of all four of those places.

        Otherwise, it looks like it should work fine -- just remember to keep things as simple as you can.

        On another note, I know I have felt liberated from the one-page-of-notes limitation that FC stuff lends itself to. I've moved to basically plain ruled pages for all my notes, so I can have one-page days and ten-page days, however they come. (I'm using a variety of templates from in a paper planner.)


        • #5
          Just a quick comment on your virtual tickler file...

          Regarding your use of word for a tickler file, I was wanting some kind of virtual tickler file for a bunch of reasons. I use a physical tickler and like it very much. But so much info comes at us in soft copy that a digital tickler would be cool.

          The other day, I downloaded ONENOTE 2007 Beta 2. I created a notebook, divided into 13 section titled jan-dec and one section titled "1-31". This last section has 31 pages in it. So I now have a true virtual tickler that I can dump anything I want with out having to print a hard copy.

          I'm sure there may be a downside; there always is. But so far, I don't see it. Matbe having to check two ticklers a day (OMG!).

          Anyway, just throwing it out there.


          • #6
            Hardware failures!

            Originally posted by Intero
            I'm sure there may be a downside; there always is. But so far, I don't see it.
            Without proper backup policy you will loose your tickler file if your hard disk dies. Your tickler file will also be temporarily inaccessible if your laptop battery dies and there is no external power supply.


            • #7
              Originally posted by TesTeq
              Without proper backup policy you will loose your tickler file if your hard disk dies. Your tickler file will also be temporarily inaccessible if your laptop battery dies and there is no external power supply.
              Yes, this is true. I think it'd be true of nearly any digital solution.