working for me, paper edition

This post isn’t about people working for me, but tools. Today we’re bombarded with the next great thing to make our lives simpler and to magically have everything “poof” go together simply and easily. Many of them have really really great ideas, but in subscribing completely to them we loose our individuality and the quirks that make us unique and what makes things work for us.

I must write things by hand to remember them. I need reminders everywhere or else I procrastinate (er..). I’ve tried to use only electronic organizing methods. I’ve tried (prior to anything else) paper-only methods. I have found over the years that I need a combination method. It’s still not perfect and sometimes annoys the you-know-what out of me. It’s getting there. I’ve been bouncing around a few tools this year as I try to find what works with my current needs. I have found it’s not far from what I’ve been using for many years. If I keep returning to it, it must be good. That said, I am looking for tools to help me be consistent and simplify repetitive tasks I’m currently doing.

Today I’ll write briefly about some of the paper tools I’m currently using. Next week I’ll try the electronic ones.

filofax daily work journal daily work journal, cover clippings journal

First up is my handy dandy filofax. This one is the slim personal size. It’s not really my favorite, but i’m finally learning to make it work. If you are looking for a Personal size Lyndhurst or an A5 Logic, please please let me know (they have been used but not too much abused. You must provide innards. We’ll work out a trade of some sort [hint: Fibre]). Additionally, if you know of a slimline a5 that is not expensive PLEASE let me know. I prefer that size (Strata is a start, but still a bit bigger/$ than I’d like.). The calendar is week on one page with notes. Only big appointments and to-do deadlines make it in this calendar. Birthdays too. I use an electronic calendar for the many other things and a daily journal for most things. As the notes side is free range anything can go there. I would love to combine this with my daily journal but I haven’t yet found the right combination to do so. (an A5 that works for me might solve the problem).

Next are my “daily work journals” which are just cheap sewn binding composition books. I divide the page into quarters .. the upper right gets a date stamp (often two as I make sure the dates on my stamps are set right) along the right column I put what the weather, what i wore, and dinner. Continuing below that is a simple ledger of expenses (I don’t always get them all in, but am getting better). The left column starts with a short schedule of the day followed by planned (or routine) tasks which get crossed off. On the back of this page I start a numbered log of all things that were done.. phone calls, “big” emails, etc. If my notes end up going onto new pages, they end up going over. I try not to stress about it. I often start a new page if I’m at a meeting, i’ll write the time of the meeting and who attended and will try to at least highlight what I have to do. I often paste or staple receipts into this too along with diagram drawings or printouts. Pretty much whatever I need goes in.

This isn’t a perfect solution. I am saddened by the cheapness of the composition books, yet at the same time am comforted by their low cost. I would love fancy ones with nice paper that doesn’t bleed through, but as these books have been known to mop up tea/coffee spills I’m not sure if that is a good idea. I’m determined to make a new cover if I ever finish fixing the sewing machine (shira has sat neglected since you met her). I have some ideas but don’t want to hand sew. To the current volume I finally got smart (yesterday) and added a duct tape pen holder (this took me about fifteen years to do). I make a table of contents of the first day of the week and the page number. I’m going to get my hands on a bates stamper (aka an auto number stamp) to number the pages of the next book (or perhaps finish this one). I always screw up by hand. I’m embarrassed about that. ;) Yes, I could buy lab books with the pages numbered but haven’t. I also prefer grid notebooks but haven’t found cheap ones with a grid I like. While it’s not perfect, the imperfections allow me to not stress if i’m recording something in the “right way” and it allows me to get it down when I need to. Which is the important part.

The last image (the black composition book) is my clippings journal. I’ll show more of this at another time. Basically, I LOVE to tear stuff out from magazines and papers and then have a hard time tossing them. This is my solution to that clutter and i find that i now clip a little more carefully. One book lasts about 6-7 months. Right now I’m keeping them. I’m not sure if that is a long-term decision or not.

I also write temp things on index cards. If they are interesting they get pasted into the working journal. I tend to keep using them (and different writing implements) until there is no space left.

This post was inspired by:

(eventually i’ll get to all the points i want to make. i hope this is a little more coherent this way. The first draft was REALLY scary.)

Look for more next week if I haven’t scared you away!