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I am so overwhelmed I can't even start a system. Lots of ideas.. paper vs PDA .etc

I'm a student in my 2nd year and I didn't do as well as I would have liked this semester I have just finished. I put this down to my lack of organisation. Last year I was doing pretty well and I used a Palm PDA to organise myself, the apps I used being: UniMatrix for uni timetable, HandyShopper for lists and DueYesterday for assignments. However my 2nd year seems to require more organisation (vaguer tasks, timetable varying more often) and I procrastinated a lot. When it came to writing tasks and dates down I wouldn't do it on paper because it seemed like sacrilege and if I did it would be on a random scrap of paper that would get lost. I actually avoided using my PDA for numerous reasons, to me it seems like PDAs are one of those things that sounds great in theory but is bad in practice.

I am trying to think of a good system and I want to devise a good one before I start creating it. My main problems with my PDA was speed. The PalmPDA pretends to be convenient but I would have to take it out its case in my pocket, turn it on, get the proper application up, get out my stylus, and write which was was a VERY slow process for me. Even if I purchased a Palm keyboard I can't think it would be any more convenient because to write down one little task I'd have to find a surface, unfold the keyboard, connect the palm and start the keyboard driver and then finally get round to typing! Data input is one of the most important things. If you avoid doing data input because it is nightmare you will be a very unproductive person no matter how good your system is!

Here was my thought for a system:


Pocket notebook + pen - writing down data, Adv: quick as it gets

PDA - to reference to. Adv: Fit in pocket, will be EVERYTHING (all daily tasks, assignments)

At home:

PC- Adv: Basically I would just look at the notes I'd made that day and enter them into the correct app (that has a corresponding Palm ap) then sync my Palm. Then I would tear out the rough notes I made that day from my input notebook.

Thats my thought. The only disadvantage I can think of this is that it seems stupid that data may need to be entered twice (once in pad + once in comp) however I still think this works out faster then using a PDA for input. For intance in a lecture I'd have to write a detail of something but I wouldn't get the complete information or I'd get left behind because my input was so slow.

Part of me says stuff the PDA and go all-paper. Just devise a daily tasks list each day and have a pad to write on and that's it. I am fairly experienced in computing comparitvely so I always feel obliged to go the digital route so this gives me big resistance to switching to paper because I know digital is superior. Thus I am driving myself crazy when it comes to organisation and I tend to avoid it alltogether. But then again, life is unpredictable and sometimes you'll be want to look at more then the daily tasks, say for instance, if you have finished all of them and if your stuck at uni with a very long break between lectures.

My thoughts are in a mess and I just can't seem to find a good answer here on what to do. As I said, I want to pick an optimal system before I spend my time setting it up. I am getting a headache just thinking about it.

Help is appreciated.


Todd V's picture

Checkout my Post on GTD & Academics

You may find this post on GTD & Academics helpful. Part of what makes things difficult may have less to do with paper versus digital implementations of GTD and more to do with the unique tasks that face us academics:


Todd V




An Oblique Strategy:
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