Lo-Fi Productivity – Organizing The Hipster

On Monday, I discussed my PDA of choice in keeping me organized through the day.  The “Hipster PDA” is a simple stack of index cards held together and organized any way you choose.  For me, the simplest way is best.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve tried some different ways of organizing my cards, from little holders, various colors, and fancy clips.  The only mod I make to my cards these days is rounding off the bottom corners using a 5mm corner rounder I purchased at the local hobby store and binding them with Rollabind/Circa discs.  I round the bottom corners because it makes it easy to stash my PDA in a pocket or my Saddlebag Sling bag I take with me on my daily travels.  The corners don’t snag as bad that way and I like the professional look it gives my Hipster.

As for organizing the stack, I actually use two notebooks to keep me on task.  The first is a book made up of 4 x 6 index cards and it’s my long range planning book.  In that book I tag sections with the cheap “post it” flags you can purchase at any office supply store.  I have sections first for my “todoodlist” mind maps, my long range goals and project lists I’m working on for later execution.  I also have some pages in back where I’m tracking sermon series, blog series, and other assorted long-range items.

It’s from this book that I plan my days and organize my Hipster as you see at right.  I have a cover page with my contact data on it if I misplace the Hipster.  That is followed by a “results” list that is my top page behind the cover.  On this page I list my three “big rocks”; the items I prioritize as most important for my day.  After that, I list other tasks that I want to do through the day.  Call lists, emails, errands, you name it!  This page is then kept with me all day as I work through the tasks.  Behind that page is blank, fresh cards to tag everything else that occurs through my day.  As I use a card, I move it to the “used” stack that I maintain by using divider cards.  As you can see in the illustration, a yellow card separates the used stack from fresh cards.  The purple card is the “end” card that provides the back end of the used stack to cards do not get mixed up when you’re flipping them.  This avoids the embarassment of handing a card to someone  that you may have previously used.  When I come home at the end of the day, I process the used cards by removing them and either updating my 4 x 6 book or by other means, (i.e. calendaring items, paying bills, etc..).   Using this method, the yellow card will eventually work it’s way to the top of your stack indicating the need for replenishing your “fresh” stack of cards.  I usually add a few each day and my stack is never more than 12-15 cards total.  That makes the Hipster easy to carry and manage.

This system is by no means original.  In fact, Merlin Mann, who first posted about the Hipster 5 years ago, featured this setup on his blog when discussing the Hipster PDA.  I’ve found it to be a great way of keeping a “watertight” inbox with no leaks.  Nothing slips through the cracks provided I’m diligent in processing the cards each day.  I’ve made it a routine as I wind down for the night and pre-plan for my next day.  I process any cards in my “used” stack, review my results list and update a fresh card for the next day.  I also keep my “todoodlist” mind maps current as I knock out tasks on my lists.  The entire process takes less than 15 minutes once you get into the habit and I have a peaceful mind heading to bed knowing that my next day is already off to a good start.

Of course, you could modify all of this for use on a Blackberry or iPhone.  It just seems cumbersome to do so for me now that I’m used to it.  On Friday, I’ll feature another type of Hipster that my friend, John Richardson, mentioned on Monday in my comments section.  Taking the paper idea to an even smaller dimension, John has designed the “Walleteer” using business card forms that you can customize and print.  Until then, have a great day!

Lo-Fi Productivity – Organizing The Hipster

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