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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Introducing the Hipster PDA

This article was originally posted during the first week of 43 Folders' existence, and, pound for pound, it remains one of the most popular page on the site. Please be sure to also visit related pages, browse our Hipster PDA topic area, plus, of course you can search on the Hipster PDA across our family of sites.

Recently, I got sick of lugging my Palm V around, so I developed a vastly superior, greatly simplified device for capturing and sharing information. I call it “The Hipster PDA.”

Beauty & Simplicity

Hipster PDA - the parts you'll need

The Hipster PDA (Parietal Disgorgement Aid) is a fully extensible system for coordinating incoming and outgoing data for any aspect of your life and work. It scales brilliantly, degrades gracefully, supports optional categories and “beaming,” and is configurable to an unlimited number of options. Best of all, the Hipster PDA fits into your hip pocket and costs practically nothing to purchase and maintain. Let’s make one together.

Building your first Hipster PDA

  1. get a bunch of 3"x5" file cards (here’s 500 for around 3 bucks)
  2. clip them together with a binder clip
  3. there is no step 3

Settings & Preferences

Assembling your Hipster PDA

For you hotrods who like to tweak your equipment, I’ll note a few mods you might make to the basic configuration.

  • Consider picking up some different kinds of cards—different colors, lined and unlined.
  • Personally, I like the really small binder clips and a stack of 12 or fewer cards; experiment for the combination that suits you
  • Try using a single different-colored card as a visual separator between used and fresh cards in your stack (helps you from accidentally giving someone an old, written-on note)
  • Buy yourself a Fisher Space Pen. I’ll post more on this later (since I’m a bit obsessed with them), but The Fisher Bullet model is tiny, sturdy, and surprisingly comfortable to use. And, thanks to its famous nitrogen-forced ink well technology, the Space Pen writes upside down, underwater, and—yes I’ve tested it— through a pat of rich, creamery butter. It’s the perfect stylus for your new Hipster PDA.

“Getting Things Done” with your Hipster PDA

A completed Hipster PDAFellow fans of Getting Things Done will instantly see the application here. Try using a separate index card for each potential inbox item you want to track. This requires carrying a few more spare cards around, but it helps ensure you “close the loop” as soon as the throught occurs to you.

When you get back to the office or home (wherever your physical inbox resides), you can toss all your new notes into the pile and process them like you would any other incoming items. Alternatively, you can base a whole GTD system around index cards, sorting them into piles for “Next Actions,” “Waiting,” “Sometime,” and so on. Whatever works for you.

Hipster PDA: Related 43F Links

The Hipster PDA elsewhere

Hipster PDA Supplies

American Digest's picture

The 44th Folder: This Just...

The 44th Folder: This Just Crossed My Mind

Mouthbreaters and the "Hipster PDA" Joel Spolsky @ Joel on Software - It's Not Just Usability discusses the final frontier of UI design, the "social interface." Joel: Even though text messaging has a ghastly user interface, it became extremely popular ...




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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