Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ponies, Journals, and notebooks

I promised I'd blog about which tool I ended up using to get organized and how I got there. I'm not going to go through all the details and background but I will focus on the two that work out the best: Journler and Circus Ponies Notebook.

Both are truly wonderful programs. The big difference here is Circus Ponies Notebook uses a notebook metaphor - it looks exactly like a notebook including you can make it look like a spiral bound notebook, a yellow legal pad, or even Cornell Notes. The problem here is trying to make a computer program look and act like a notebook ends up being a tad on the clunky side.

After trying Journler, I switched. It makes use of the features a computer provides: searching, indexing, categorizing, and tagging. You can do folders and smart folders. I call it "iTunes for my life". The folders are like playlists of the information you want to organize - you just drag 'n drop your stuff and it is there. The smart folders are like smart playlists - define the search criteria and anything that matches just shows up there.

Now if Journler just did todo lists better, I'd be using it for everything. I wonder if you could somehow combine Journler and iGTD.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: wise use of resources

Originally, I was not going to participate in Blog Action Day. Am I allowed to say that? And what changed my mind? What changed my mind was Lifehacker's Blog Action Day post. In particular, one tip they gave got me thinking. The tip was "Bring Your Own Utensils To Work."

Before I read the details of the tip, my mind went a completely different direction than the article. The article was talking about forks and spoons - bring the metal ones and wash them instead of tossing the plastic ones. Where my mind went: writing utensils.

Maybe I spend too much time on, but I started thinking about at nearly any office I've worked in, you go to the office supply cabinet and you find just about the same thing: a cabinet full of the cheapest pens and legal pads you've ever seen. The pens are doing well to last a few weeks before getting lost, stop working, or just get swiped off your desk by a co-worker. The notepads aren't much better. You turn a page 3 times and it rips off.

I've been switching back and forth between a couple pens at work. I've got a couple Pilot G2 pens, and a couple inexpensive fountain pens. I like the idea that instead of just using a pen a few weeks and then tossing it when it quits working, of buying a pen that has refills available. The fountain pen (Lamy Vista, for those of you who are curious) are even better because instead of a cartridge you can get a converter. The converter lets you refill from an ink bottle. I can use the same pen for years and years and the only cost (financially and environmentally) is a bottle of ink.

The cost of a good fountain pen is more initially, but over time you've got a pen that is enjoyable to use and a lot less plastic going into the land-fill.

Along those same lines, I've been using a Circa notebook from Levenger. I also purchased the hole-punch to go with it. This means I can hole-punch just about any size and kind of paper and just toss it into my notebook. I have a pretty much infinitely refillable notebook.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

the big analog/digital DUH!

For the last few months, especially since re-discovering the site I have been in a mentality that I should either do all my organization with a planner or all of it in electronic format. So the dilemma became: do I want everything to be digital and searchable or on paper and so I won't have to worry about computer problems?

My answer came later from David Allen. I wish I could remember which interview I was listening to with him exactly, but someone asked him which he uses: analog or digital tools? His answer: both! I've heard him say it before that if someone isn't comfortable using either of these toolsets they are in trouble. What I hadn't heard him say before is that he personally uses both and recommends that anyone comfortable with this do the same.

It was one of those "Well, DUH! Why didn't I think of that before?" moments as David went on the explain. He carries paper and pen with him at all times so he can jot down anything that pops into his head. Later he processes this information. In his case, if something is important, part of "processing" is entering his handwritten note into his computer. The note can then be saved, stored, searched, emailed, posted online, or whatever he choses to do with it.

So lately I have been revisiting different tools for stored everything I need to keep track of. More on that in another post later, but for now I'll say this. I've settled on a tool called Journler which is Mac-only. Windows has a similar tool called EverNote. I have not seen any equivalent in the Linux world.