Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Now THIS is organization.

First, some context. Over the last few weeks (really since Internet Librarian), I have been fighting of a serious case of smartphone lust. I've been seeing all these ads for the Motorola Q, and it's the first pda phone that I could actually see myself carrying without looking like a overcaffeinated executive with an inferiority complex. However, I'm a cheapskate, and something tells me putting in a purchase order at work would get me laughed at...

That said, since I've stopped carrying around my franklin planner and gone to outlook tasks at work, my non-work productivity has taken a nosedive. So if i don't want to shell out 80 bucks a month for connection fees, and I also don't want to get stuck carrying around that unwieldy brick of a planner everywhere... In a nutshell, I need a simple system that can capture everything, work, home, and errands, on the fly. I've tried having a work system and a non-work system--stuff just gets garbled or lost, and it feels like I'm duplicating my efforts. Remote access to my work Outlook (or any other web-based task manager) only works up to a point--I'm not jacked up to a computer 24/7 nor do I really want to be, gadget lust aside. That leaves index cards.

I've played with this concept, mainly with the DIY planner templates for the hipster PDA--the templates were a pain to use (more because of my crappy handwriting than any inherent problems) and were quickly abandoned. Also, at the time I first played with them, I was in the middle of the last insane months of my MLIS, and didn't have much time to fiddle with new systems since my current one was sufficient to keep up with my school and work projects. But as I've been taking a fresh 40,000 foot look at my priorities and goals in the wake of recent events and the enforced sabbatical they caused, I realize that no matter how productive I get at work, that's just half the battle.

So, did I throw the index card baby out with the bathwater? well, I found out about this guy's index system via 43 folders, and I spent the next hour reading about his system in stunned amazement. A system for easily distinguishing card types that didn't depend on colored cards (or on butterfingers here not dropping my deck)? A system that helped capture random musings, quotes, etc. as well as the standard "GTD Stuff"? A flipping CARD CATALOG DRAWER for a card archive??? Okay, I'm the first to say that this guy is far more organized than I ever hope (or want) to be, but I think that he has something here... Even if you think he's nuts after the first few pages, read the whole thing through. If nothing else, it's inspiring, and I'm very close to migrating back to an analog system that will look something like this.

There are some kinks I'm going to need to sort out, essentially to do with monitoring my recurring home-based tasks like housekeeping and such. I also don't know that I need to track some of the things he does with the same level of detail. But a stripped down version of this with an elegant solution for recurrent tasks could be what the doctor ordered. I plan to put together a final plan for my system (which I'll post here, with photos if I'm feeling really OCD) in the next week or two, and implement the transition during our winter intersession. In the meantime, let me know what you think, and happy organizing! :-)