43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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


Robert Daeley: Do Zen Monk Robes Have Pockets?

Robert considers the vast amount of stuff most of us carry around every day—where can we lighten our loads and empty our pockets?

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TOPICS: Life Hacks, Lofi, Tips

Last call: Printers that handle index cards well

43F Google Group: Research for a Post: Printers that handle index cards well

A few weeks back, I posted a message to the Google Group, asking for advice on the best printers for printing onto standard index cards. There have been a lot of suggestions (HP and Brother models seem to be popping up a lot), but there hasn’t been a decisive winner as far as I can tell.

I’d love to post a summary of the three or so best printers people are using—I hope some time in the next week—so this is your final chance to chime in on the model that’s rocking your world. I know a lot of you have been printing to tons of index cards lately, so there must be some printers that can handle the little fellas better than others.

Just to toss this out, here’s a few of the things that I would be looking for in this printer:

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Hybrid GTD/Ternouth paper-based system

Good post on implementing elements of _Getting Things Done_ with Martin Ternouth's paper project management system (mentioned earlier here).

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The D*I*Y Planner: Hipster PDA Edition

a million monkeys typing » D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition

Geek worlds collide as Douglas Johnston releases the “Hipster PDA” edition of his popular D*I*Y Planner. As with the classic version, Douglas has adapted and refined popular “paper planner” templates—only this time they’re tailored to fit on our beloved index cards.

To commemorate this august occasion, we’ve asked Douglas himself to share his thoughts on why paper seems to be making such a comeback (if it ever “went away”), including some insights into who this format may and may not work best for.

Great work all around, Douglas!


The D*I*Y Planner: Hipster PDA Edition

by Douglas Johnston

D*I*Y Hipster PDA In this day and age, paper-based planning (PBP) is a notion roughly analogous to horse-and-buggies, pneumatic networking, sliderules, and steam-powered lawnmowers — in other words, ancient technology.

So, why are we suddenly seeing a resurgence in paper-based organizational tools like planners, index card sets (a.k.a., the Hipster PDA), file folders, pocket briefcases, and honest-to-goodness real-ink pens? Outside of a number of philosophical reasons, I believe that it's ultimately a matter of knowing that these things actually work. After all, not even the trendiest tools last for more than a season if they don't deliver (and I have a junk drawer overflowing with orphaned gadgets to prove it). There's a proven track record behind paper-based planning, and an endless array of options for those people wanting to define --and redefine-- their systems.

Despite being an IT professional, I've found that the dozens of technology-based systems I've used over the years have never really been fully effective solutions for managing my time and projects, and so bits and pieces of my life are now scattered in a hundred incompatible systems, never to be seen again. The last straw was when several of my Palm databases became badly corrupted last year, the bad data having also spread to the desktop and the backups: needless to say, much was lost. I began to wonder if the Day Runner I used a lifetime ago could be resurrected and made useful again. This plan had its problems, however: not only was the nearest Staples a four-hour jaunt away, but their shrink-wrapped forms were quite limited in variety and usage, not to mention very expensive -- a typical pack of 20 To Do sheets was about $5 USD. The D*I*Y Planner project was thus born as a way of providing a wide assortment of forms at little cost. (Although, my wife might argue that I was just being cheap.) With the realization that others might find it useful, I decided to create a system that could be tweaked to suit almost any methodology or situation, relying heavily upon user feedback for ideas and direction.

The latest member of the D*I*Y Planner family is the Hipster PDA Edition, a set of 34 organizational and planning templates designed specifically for 3x5“ index cards. I've received hundreds of requests for a kit like this, many claiming it was an important option for creating an ideal customized system. At first, the demand took me by surprise; after all, why would you want to print so tiny on cards that contain so little information and are so hard to file?

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Impressive paper-based project management workflow

Martin Ternouth's impressive system for managing his projects with paper.

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Guest Check PDA

Guest Check PDA: closed
Originally uploaded by atduskgreg.

This is a clever variation on the Hipster PDA that I picked up over on the HPDA wiki page. Use a cheapie, pocket-sized pad of restaurant “Guest Checks” to take notes. The hack is to use the kind with old-school carbon copies, so you’ll always have an archival copy of any notes you take.

Check out the full set on Flickr.

Let us now praise Post-it notes

Phil's cool trick reminds me that I do love me some Post-it notes. How do you use 'em?

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The Globe and Mail on the Hipster PDA

Tralee Pearce did a nice piece on the Hipster PDA and adopting analog tech in today’s Globe and Mail.

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Custom index cards from your own printer

Neat, simple tricks for printing your own index cards--either as templates or as stuff you've been storing electronically.

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Anne Lamott on index cards

Lots of people had been suggesting I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (subtitled “Some Instructions on Writing and Life”) becaues she mentions how much she loves and relies on index cards for more than just composition.

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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