PigPogPDA – A Moleskine Hacked into a Complete System

Introduction

What Is It?

  • A Moleskine hack.
  • An extreme Moleskine hack.
  • A simplified GTD system (What system? See our GTD Introduction), with relatively little actual organising. May be useful if you fancy Doing GTD Without Doing GTD.
  • A complete personal management system for those who’s needs aren’t too complicated.
  • A rather over-the-top system for dealing with just the capturing and processing end of GTD.

Quick Overview

The rest of this post goes into quite a bit of detail, which makes it all sound a bit more complicated than it is.

It’s just a notebook, you make your notes from front to back, in the usual way. You have a bookmark of some sort to keep track of where you’re up to, so you can quickly open it and make a note. The only ‘clever’ part is that you have another bookmark, which marks the point at which you’ve dealt with everything in some way. Doesn’t matter if you’ve actually done the things, or just made a note of them elsewhere – as long as you’ve processed them in some way, so you don’t need to look at them again.

Normally, the second bookmark will lag a bit behind the ‘main’ one, and at least some of the stuff in-between needs doing or adding to a list somewhere else (maybe just some other pages in the same notebook). Anything left behind the second bookmark is pretty much ‘archived’.

If that sounds like something you’d get on with, read on for more details, and ideas on how to implement it.

Translations

I never thought anyone would want to translate one of my articles – I’m honoured that a couple of people have done just that, though…

Why?

I was finding GTD a bit much for various reasons, but didn’t want to stop entirely – I needed to be Doing GTD Without Doing GTD. This is the system I came up with in the end. It’s simpler than GTD, and wouldn’t scale to the sort of level that GTD will, but it works pretty well for me, so it seems reasonable to think it might work well for other people too.

Equipment Needed

  • Moleskine Pocket Reporter (Amazon UK, Amazon US) notebook. This is, after all, a Moleskine hack. Actually, any notebook could be used, I just find the Moleskine Pocket Reporter to be a good shape and size, and has all the right features. They’re relatively pricey, though, and aren’t easy to get everywhere, so you may want to substitute.

  • Pen or Pencil. Your choice. Needs to be pocketable, and work well for quick scribbled notes, but if you can find something you enjoy using, all the better. I started with the Staedtler Mars 780 Leadholder, but I’m now back to using my old favourite Cross ion. The Pilot G-Tec C4 is another good choice – writes very small, so you get more notes to the page. Makes my writing look even worse than usual, though.

  • Post-it Tags – available from most office supplies places, they’re little tags where the sticky part is clear, with a coloured non-sticky part – meant for adding tabs to books, much as we’re going to do shortly. Although I’ve specified colours for each use, it’s just to make explaining easier – use whatever colours you prefer.

Preparing

Page Template

Looks Like This

The basic page template is just a ruled line at the bottom, maybe two centimetres or three quarters of an inch from the bottom, then a line from the top of the page down to this line, about the same distance from the right hand edge. Doesn’t need to be exact, and you might prefer wider or narrower margins. Just see what you find works.

How To Mark

Trick I picked up years ago from one of my school teachers, for marking a ‘margin’ line on pretty much anything with some thickness to it – he used it for marking wood for cutting, but it works just as well on a notebook…

  • Hold your pen or pencil in hand as usual, between thumb and first two fingers.
  • Rest your second finger on the page.
  • Press the first knuckle of your third finger (ring finger) against the edge of the pad.
  • Slide down the page, using fingers as a guide – do it once or twice with the pencil just above the page, to get the idea, then lower the pencil and draw the line.

The result won’t be as perfect as a ruled line, but not far off, and you can do it anywhere without needing a ruler. Careful of paper cuts.

Why a Template?

The main section is for your notes and scribbles. Drawings, even, if you’re so inclined. The margin on the right is a space for notes added later – maybe actions arrising from the things on the left, or follow up clarifications.

The section at the bottom is for two things – space for the tags, and a space for titles for active pages. If a page is just for capturing quick notes and scribbles, it will be left blank, and just used for the tags. If a page is brainstorming or mind mapping of an idea, event or project, a title can go in the middle of the bottom section, where the tags won’t obscure it. Remember, the sticky part of the tags is clear anyway.

Titles at the bottom seems a bit odd, but it does seem to work, especially with the reporter style notebook and the tags.

Mixing with Other Ideas

The same template idea can be mixed in with other stuff…

  • Leslie Herger, for example, uses a system with two pages based on the PigPogPDA idea, followed by two pages of general ideas and notes. The block of four pages tend to get used up around the same time, then she moves on to the next block.
  • Peter at Getting (Some) Things Done …Eventually has mixed parts of the PigPogPDA with other things very effectively – adding the other parts of GTD to sections of the notebook.
  • This system at azazil makes a system from a Moleskine diary, using ideas from this article, and hyalineskies‘ excellent system. Both of these have taken some ideas from the PigPogPDA, but built some great stuff on top of it, and made a much more complete system.
  • I currently do something similar to the PigPogPDA, but using a Filofax. The ‘active’ marker is the ‘today’ plastic ruler, and anything that would be behind the ‘processing point’ gets taken out and archived elsewhere. My GTD-style context lists, and Someday/Maybe stuff just go in different sections.

Stock Up on Tags

The last page in the Pocket Reporter is thick card – use this to stick spare tags on – maybe one spare each of pink and blue, and a good stack of yellows. They peel off this page easier than the other pages.

Date The Edge

No, not the fella from U2. Use a Sanford Sharpie or similar marker to mark the date you start the notebook on the edge of the pages. When you’re done with this one, you’ll mark the end date on it, and they’ll all stand in a line on your shelf looking impressive ;)

Using

Blue and Pink Tags

These mark out the boundaries of your active capturing area. I use a blue tag for the processing point (closest to the front of the book), and a pink tag for the collection point (closest to the back of the book).

  • Blue Tag – Processing Point. Anything before this point has been processed, and you don’t need to refer to again – unless it has a yellow tag to mark it as active. I keep this one stuck on the left hand side, which makes it stand out better.
  • Pink Tag – Collection Point. This is where you need to note down any new ideas. Sometimes, there will be notes beyond this point, but only when you’ve needed a full page for something. I keep this one on the right hand side, so it’s the only non-yellow thing on its side. You might want to keep all yellow tags on the left, so you can find the collection point by feel, and don’t have to look for colours before making a quick note.

Obviously, you can use whatever colours you like for this. I’ve picked yellow for the active markers, because they’ll be easiest and cheapest to buy, and blue and pink because they stand out well against the yellow and each other.

Active Tags

Anything that’s currently being worked on gets a yellow tag. I find it best to keep them all on the left side – that way, the pink tag can be found easily, because it’s the only tag on that side. Good for when you need to make a note of something quickly. See the ‘Variations’ note further down the page – I’m currently using a slightly different trick for active pages, which seems to work better than the yellow tags.

What Gets an Active Tag?

Anything that’s active. If you’re planning an article, or a party, or you’re working on a list of people you’ll need to tell about something, or a list of things you need to do this weekend, or…

You get the idea. Anything you’re still working on that has a page of its own. Single items should be moved into a list before getting a yellow tag.

Can Active Tags be Before the Blue Tag?

Yes. If you’ve processed all the notes past the point of that page, as long as there’s an active tag on it, the blue marker can move forward beyond it. The yellow tag keeps it active, and lets the blue tag move beyond the page.

Can Active Tags be Ahead Of the Pink Tag?

Yes. The Pink tag is your current capture point – if you’re only halfway down a page, and want to start working on a list, or mind mapping something you’re intending to do, you just move forward to a new blank page. The capture point doesn’t have to move forward, though, until the page it’s on is finished. In this case, you’ll have active work, with a yellow tag, further towards the back of the book than the pink tag. That’s ok.

Alternative to Active Tags – Page Numbering with an Index

I used a variation on this in my second PigPogPDA, and it seemed to work better for me. Rather than having the yellow tags, I started it by numbering all the pages, but skipped the first page (the first one after the card page, that is. The one that sticks to the card page a bit). The first page, I used as a kind of contents page for the pages that would otherwise have had yellow tags on them. So when I want to do a bit of brainstorming about something, or make notes on a specific subject, I scribble a title in the bottom part of a template page, then write the page number and the title on the first page. Things can be crossed out when they’re no longer active.

One page should be enough for the contents, continuing on the second side if needed, but you can always leave a second page spare at the start if you’re concerned about running out of space.

The advantages are…

  • Less tags getting in the way – all those yellow tags are a bit of a mess.
  • Faster to find a page. Once you’ve got a few active pages on the go, even if it’s not a lot of them, it can take a while to find the one you’re looking for among all the yellow tags. This way, you open the first page, look up the page you want, and flick to it.
  • Quick reference to all active pages, making it easier to review what you’re working on.

The numbers are in the very bottom right corner of each page.

Capturing

Capturing is pretty simple, just as it should be. Open up a the pink tag, and make your notes. Draw a line across between items, all the way to the edge. The right hand side margin can then be used to tick off items that are done, or make little notes of actions coming from that note.

Processing

Processing starts from the blue tag (closest to the front of the book). You check each page, and if there’s anything actionable in it, you need to either do it, or clarify what it is and add it to an active list somewhere. That somewhere can be another page further forward in the book, or it could be a to-do list somewhere completely different.

If you’re just capturing with this system, the actual to-do list could be in a copy of Outlook, or index cards, or whatever other system you like.

If this is your entire system (it is for me), you just make lists as and when you need them further forwards in the book. If you’ve got several things noted down that you need to do this weekend, make a page for Things To Do This Weekend, and put these on the list. Then you can mark the items off. When each item on a page is marked off, move the blue tag forwards. Skip any active pages with yellow tags – they’re already marked as active, and when they stop being active, we’ll process them before removing their yellow tag.

Ideally, the blue tag should meet the pink tag fairly regularly – that means you’re all up to date with things. If they’re too far apart too often, you’ve probably got too much stuff between them that’s outstanding, and need to either start doing things more, or you might need a better Productivity) system. Or if you’ve got mostly crossed out items, with just a few that you’ve not dealt with clogging things up, you can move them forward…

Moving Things Forward

Sometimes, there’ll be something sticking the blue tag from moving forward, because it doesn’t really belong in a list, but you can’t (or can’t be bothered to) do it. Feel free to just copy it to your current capture point, and continue moving the blue tag forwards. If there’s a few of them, you could always collect them together in a ‘Stubborn Items’ list. You don’t want to build up too many active items, though. They’ll all need copying forwards to a new book when you reach the end of this one, or you’d have to carry two books around.

Reference Stuff

Personally, I keep reference stuff elsewhere – I need that stuff on a computer where it’s searchable and can be archived and backed up safely.

If you really want reference stuff mixed in with this system, I’d probably just get another colour of tags, and tag reference stuff with that. The blue tag would, obviously, just move forwards past them.

Archiving

Simple trick – mark the start and end dates of the notebook on the side, and they’ll all line up on a shelf with the dates showing.

Other Tricks

  • The elastic on the Moleskine notebook can just about hold the tip of your chosen pen or pencil, keeping them together in you pocket.
  • The back pocket in the notebook is just wide enough for credit cards and business cards, and it will also hold index cards and paper money quite nicely. If you can manage with only a few items, you might be able to replace your wallet – I have.
  • Clip your mobile phone under the elastic too, and you’ve got yourself a PigPog Communicator.
  • Number the last ten pages backwards – 1 on the last page, then 2, and on inwards. That way, when you hit the number 10 when using new pages, you’ll know you’ve only got ten pages to go before needing a new PDA.
  • When starting a new book, mark up a page halfway through first, and make a note at the top of it to buy another Pocket Reporter. When the pink tab reaches that point, you’ll already have a reminder in place to replace your PDA well before it runs out.

Related

  • GTD Introduction – if you don’t know what all this GTD stuff is.
  • GTD – The PigPog Method – if you’re after more of a small tweak to the basic GTD, to cut down on managing projects.
  • 43 Folders – the finest source of inspiration for productivity hacks, especially with Moleskines and Apple Macs. Use the links there to buy your Moleskines if you’re in the US.
  • DIY Planner – Organising and productivity with paper, with a more creative twist.
  • Post It Flags – Post It’s range of flags.
  • Mojo – Moleskine Reporter pads at Mojo UK. For US suppliers, see 43 Folders.

79 thoughts on “PigPogPDA – A Moleskine Hacked into a Complete System

  1. Hi there,

    I recently bought a small Rhodia pad and have been trying to find a use for it. It seems like the Rhodia pads would work very well as PipPogPDAs. I like the wider paper, and they are WAY less expensive than Moleskine. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Moleskines but, Rhodia are about 1/3 of the price. Another bonus is that the pages in the Rhodia are perforated so I can pass info on if I want to. I’m going to throw a rubber band around the bottom of my Rhodia to keep it closed in my bag and try this out as my capture tool.

    Thanks for the great idea.

  2. Thank you for this great idea! Trying to implement it now using simple spiral notebook. One question though, what to you do with back (sides of the) pages, how do you use them? they are kind of awkward to draw templates and write on, didnot like them since primary school : )

  3. I also hated to use the back sides of paper in notebooks because of the uncomfortable feeling. I did discover that if you flip the notebook around (similiar to what left-handers often do) it will be more comfortable. I usually finish the notebook all the way through, then I flip it around and start going the other direction toward the front of the notebook. If you’re doing it right, when looking at the open book, one side will be “upside down”.

  4. The “Doing GTD Without Doing GTD” link in the introduction is broken – it should currently point to http://pigpog.com/node/1035

    I’m glad to see someone who likes the ideas of GTD but, like me, finds it to be overkill. I’ll be trying my own version of your PDAified Moleskine once I find my way to a stationary store – unfortunately I’ll have to settle for an imitation since the real deal isn’t available in China, but the abundance of fountain pens makes it worth the sacrifice.

  5. I never use the backs of sheets in any notebooks. It’s terribly wasteful, but I never find it comfortable to write there, and sometimes the spare side can come in useful for adding notes later on.

    Back when I was at school, the teacher would sometimes let us skip the first ‘backside’ page, as a special ‘treat’, and now it’s my choice, I intend to wallow in the luxury of only writing on the nice side ;)

  6. Thanks, muddyElephant – fixed. I think I’d set up a bunch of redirects to cope with the URLs that had changed, then I must have got rid of the redirects, thinking I’d updated everything. Missed this one though.

    Kind of ironic that you can’t buy Moleskines in China, considering the fuss that’s kicked up now that people have found out that they’re made there. Any notebook will do the job, though, I was just jumping on the Moleskine thing because… er… Oh, I don’t know – probably just copying Merlin ;)

    Yes, fountain pens are well catered for in China, from what I hear – with Hero, you’ve probably got one of the world’s best manufacturers now. All the big brands seem to be going downhill rapidly, but Hero are still doing nicely. Shame we don’t see many of their products over here in the UK.

  7. Hi Des,

    I’d love to try a Rhodia, haven’t been able to get hold of one yet, but I’ve heard good things about them.

    I found a blog a few weeks ago by a guy who has put together a whole GTD system using Rhodia, you might find some inspiration there, too:

    GTD + R

    Sam Randall
    Ain’t Life Grand?

  8. Thanks for the great hack! I’ve used in with a large squared moleskine. I like the extra space–I just use it as a desk notebook, so I don’t need it to be small enough to carry around. The squares are nice for drawing the margins and also for drawing the monthly calendar I put in the front to make is useful to me as a planner as well. I’ve posted photos of my version if you’re interested.

  9. That GTD+R site is pretty impressive. I like the idea of making a game out of productivity. That would definitely help with the procrastination issues that I tend to have.

  10. Thanks, Peter. I’d gathered from looking at it that it wasn’t quite a translation, but good to hear it explains it ok – that’s the important part.

  11. Neat idea. Depends on the paper – I use fountain pens, and they often show through enough on Moleskine paper to want to avoid the other side – but if it’s only the discomfort of writing on that side that’s the problem, that trick should work well.

  12. You were wondering if the German website you’ve mentioned (by some Daniel) is a good translation. I only skimmed it briefly, but it looks like Daniel didn’t exactly translate your post, he sort of re-told the story in his own words. It’s good, no worries! ;)

  13. Sounds good. I’ve bemoaned the lack of space in the pocket before, and loved the fact that some of the back pages in the Reporter books are perforated, but never quite joined the two ideas.

  14. I used the the reporter style and dated every page for a day (weekends shared a page). Each day captures my notes from the day as well makes an appointment for something that must be done that day. I then use an index card as my “Next” list. It is just paper clipped to the next days page. I also (it took guts)..removed the 20 pages of perforated pages so that I could carry more blank index cards in the rear pocket, so if I need more room for an idea etc. Works great thus far and the book has about a 6 month usability!

  15. Some very good ideas here. But, rumaging through a list of notes to find what’s hot (actionable) is the WORST possible way to attack productivity. Moving little plastic tabs around is also silly and a waste of time. Just goes to show that a system fits each of us and is not dependent on logic or a desire to achieve peak productivity . . . but instead depends on our personality quirks.

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  17. Great little article – working on my 2009 planning system and this has given me some great ideas.

    One question – whatever happened to nowMap? Trying to figure out how it’s used and the page seems to be missing…

  18. nowMap is still around – a lot of it did get broken, but it should be working again, if you start from the nowMap Introduction page. Images are gone, unfortunately, and would take too much work to put back for now.

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  42. I use a pocket diary for wallet/diary/planner/notes etc. But I want to make a gtd one day –

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  47. I’ve got a great addition to this great tutorial. The Cross Ion refill costs a mere 1/6th of what the pen costs, it’s substantially smaller, and fits perfectly along the side of the Moleskine with the elastic. It’s got a clean, cylindrical shape with no markings or grooves to snag on anything like other refills. Plus (and this sealed it for me) the refill comes with it’s own little cap, which actually fits quite snugly on the tip!

    It’s like having an Ion without the bulge and cost, if you don’t mind not writing with a shiny implement.

  48. I don’t find the refill alone comfortable to write with for long, but it works ok. Certainly makes for a very portable ‘pen’.

    But you’re right – it’s not a shiny thing, and I think I’m part magpie ;)

  49. I love this idea, and plan to go attempt to implement it this week. I was just looking for a solution to my spiral notebook’s unwieldiness and a better system for the project lists it holds… this looks pretty awesome. You might want to fix your post-it flag link, sadly it seems to not work anymore.

  50. I love this site and keep coming back for more. The thing that concerns me though is the cost of Moleskines in the UK.

    My latest order of Moleskines arrived, a gift from a friend. The saving by buying it from Amazon is quite amazing. A UK company which sell these on the net charge as follows: -

    Ruled Notebook – £7.95 ea (so £15.90 a pair) Large Ruled – £11.50 ea Large Squared – £11.50 ea.

    The order above would have been £38.90, but buying it from Amazon I got it for £18.71 delivered.

    Amazon prices are: -

    Ruled Notebook – £3.00 ea (so £6.00 a pair) Large Ruled – £4.80 ea Large Squared – £7.91 ea.

    Good old Amazon!

    My advice is to get them at this price while you can as the 3 pack Cahier in black has gone from £1.80 to over £3.00 per pack.

    There is a local shop here in Shetland that is charging £8.45 for a Moleskine ruled notebook. That’s each!

  51. Thanks, Andy, they are very cheap at Amazon UK at the moment. I’m guessing they’re just clearing out stock, though, as the prices seem to be very patchy – very cheap for some, but not so cheap for others.

  52. Yes thats right. I have noticed that some of them are selling above list at the moment, like the Info book. They can take forever to come too. I am stocking up a bit whilst the prices are low!

  53. I’ve been hooked on these for a few months now, and did quite an extensive internet research on usable hacks. My favorite models are the squared and blank pocket book, and the blank reporter notebook, as well as the small blank or squared cahier for individual projects or trips. Here’s what I came to (and this is just my implementation of other peoples’ ideas):

    1. Writing implements Pilot G-2 is the smoothest, darkest, silkiest pen around. Best for general use. Mini version available, called XS or Pixie. Pilot G-TEC-C4 writes the finest line ever. Great for stuffing lots on info on a small paper landscape. Fisher Space Pen, for the adventurous ones. Very pocketable and strong, impervious to the elements. Nevertheless, in regards to the writing pleasure, it’s still just a ball pen. Leadholders (2 mm, 2B) are classy and versatile for writing and sketching. Mechanichal pencils (0,7 mm, HB) are really fine for writing, especially on the blank paper Moleskines. Pencils are the way to go for the traditionalist, the artist and the cost-concious out there. You do, however, have to carry a knife or sharpenner to keep going anywhere. Best to chose a good brand like Staedler, and a B or 2B grade for softness and darkness.

    2. Labeling Moleskines Since I use three or four Moleskines at the same time, for different uses, I paint the rims of the pages with a highlighter. Just close the book, hold it tight, and run the thing through. Green is for my geocaching logbook, orange for my diary/planner, yellow for my profession, and blank for my personal use Moleskine. Can spot them a mile away.

    3. Extras within 3×5 sticky notes on the front inside cover used for lists and handouts. 3M page color labels on the back inside cover for marking sections on the Moleskine. Half a dozen 3×5 ruled index cards used for notes, page markers and blotter use (this is important with the G-2 pens). Numbering pages seems to be mandatory, and I did it, but never actually got to use them as hyperlinks. Don’t bother anymore with those.

    4. Organising the pages I just start by leaving a few pages blank at the beggining, for the more permanent stuff like calendar and dated matters. Just draw the calendar myself for the next three months or so, depending on the life expectation of the book. Next comes the main section, which I will divide only when needed to create a new category. The last pages are set aside for contacts and other type of reference material. Doodles get to be backward written from the end of the main section. Important lists go to the main chapter, shopping and transient lists go on the sticky notes or index cards.

    5. Wallet use When travelling light, just stick VISA and ATM cards on the back cover pocket, ID and car documents amongst the last pages, close it up with the elastic band, and it’s good to go.

    6. Miscellaneous A knot tied at the end of the page marker keeps it from sliding with the book closed, and from unravelling. Simple and efective. Reward offered on the first page: a brand new Moleskine for whoever returns mine, if lost. Or, if preferred, a couple of gin tonics and a coffee appeal to lots of people (to me, it does).

    Regards from Portugal.

  54. Thanks – that’s a lot of ideas.

    You’re spot on with the pens, though I do find my Cross Ion to be just as black and smooth as a G2. Just found out that it tends to run dry if not used for a long time and stored upside-down, though. I’m actually using pencil most of the time now.

    (Good job I checked before having to sign whatever we have to sign when we get married.)

    Mind you, I’m not actually carrying a Moleskine most of the time now – when I am, though, it does make an excellent wallet. That said, I am carrying one today – we have our promises written in matching Moleskine Pocket Reporters.

  55. First off, Thank you very much!

    Now, in Japan(by the way, I’m Japanese)Life hacks & GTD is on the trend. I’ve read your article long time ago, and have been prracticing since. And I’ve translated your idea into Japanese, hope it’s fine with you.

    I’m very interested in GTD in Emacs, but have no idea how to use Emacs, still trying to figure out.

    Well, anyways, Thanks!

  56. That’s fine – thanks for doing it, Yuya. If you give me the URL, I’ll add a link to it.

    Emacs is great, but it does take a lot of learning. I’m still learning, but once you get through the tutorial, and get to the point where you can open, edit, exit, and manage windows reasonably well, it starts to feel much better. I had a problem for quite a while, because I hadn’t learned how to switch from one window to another – once I learned C-x o, everything else started to fall into place.

    I’ve just discovered OrgMode, which is a kind of super-outliner for Emacs, with scheduling and task management built in too. A bit like having all of the PlannerMode features, but in a tree structure rather than free-form. It’s an interesting alternative.

  57. In this brief blog entry you may reference how and why to use a standard ruled pocket size Moleskine notebook in an attempt to create a useful Getting Things Done (GTD) system. While the how will follow this paragraph, the why is equally important. Because the old mantra “mind like water” is an insightful one, the practice is often more difficult then needed. Even if you actively practice the collection of thoughts, ideas, and actions the use of a system maybe be invaluable.

  58. Adding this type of simple overview up top would be very helpful to those of us seeking help for our productivity shortcomings. Tell us what you’re going to tell us, then go into the details.

  59. We’re not really set up for making videos here, but I think the problem might be more that I’ve over-explained it.

    It’s just a notebook, you make your notes from front to back, in the usual way. You have a bookmark of some sort to keep track of where you’re up to, so you can quickly open it and make a note. The only ‘clever’ part is that you have another bookmark, which marks the point at which you’ve dealt with everything in some way. Doesn’t matter if you’ve actually done the things, or just made a note of them elsewhere – as long as you’ve processed them in some way, so you don’t need to look at them again.

    Normally, the second bookmark will lag a bit behind the ‘main’ one, and at least some of the stuff in-between needs doing or adding to a list somewhere else (maybe just some other pages in the same notebook). Anything left behind the second bookmark is pretty much ‘archived’.

    I think maybe I need an extra bit at the beginning to give a quick overview like that, so people get the basic idea before getting bogged down in all the discussion over what colour post-it tags to use, and what sort of template to use for each page. Would that help?

    Does that make it clearer, or is it still a bit confusing?

    I’m doing a similar thing now in my pocket Filofax – I just make any notes at one place, using the ‘Today’ ruler to mark the place, and instead of using another bookmark to keep track of which pages are dealt with, I just take them out and archive them elsewhere.

  60. Okay, this is all confusing to me, as I have never done this before. Reading it is only confusing me more. Can you do an instruction video? Would make it easier for people who are visually-minded instead of Written Sintruction-minded.

  61. This is a great idea. I’ve used it in combination with various computer-related GTD systems over the past year. Because it’s a supplement, I fill my notebook slowly. I just want to add a couple of praise points to the pocket reporter moleskine notebooks over the regular pocket size ones, in case someone is still wondering “why the pocket reporter notebook?”

    1. The pocket reporter seems better suited to life in the back pocket. The spine on the notebook I’m about to replace is only now starting to detach, and it’s been active for over a year now (Sep 2005 – Nov 2006). The pocket ruled notebook I had been using prior to this lasted only six months of back pocket life before its spine died.

    2. The other advantage of the pocket reporter notebook is that it’s better suited to taking notes / making lists on the go, as it’s designed to be held comfortably in one hand. Taking notes while walking is easier than in a regular style notebook, and it’s also easier to hold and reference when shopping.

    That second point is the killer feature for me. I’ve been thinking of replacing the pocket reporter with a thinner notebook like Moleskine’s Cahier line, but I don’t want to give up the ease of taking notes on the go. I walk a lot, so this feature is very important to me. Other people’s mileage may vary. And, of course, if one used a plain or grid regular notebook, you can hold it sideways to get a similar feature. It doesn’t rest as comfortably in the palm of the hand, but is still useful for quick captures. I’ve found that mind-maps in moleskine’s work better when the page is horizontal instead of vertical.

    Anyways, thanks for the great Moleskine tip. It’s such a simple system, but very effective.

  62. It’s been just under a month since I started using my version of the PigPogPDA, and I just wanted to come back and talk about my experiences with it. Hope that’s not being to presumptuous.

    I’m using a Rhodia pad for my PDA. I absolutely adore these notepads. They’re hands down cheaper than Moleskine, and the quality is right up there. I recently bought a leather (most likely actually faux leather, but whatever) case for mine, and that added a pocket to the mix, which makes the thing just about perfect.

    I’m using mine mostly for capture, and I maintain a pierced hipsterPDA for my lists and reference type things that I need to carry. I know that sounds like I’m carrying a lot of stuff with me, but I pretty much always have my bag with me so I just throw everything in there. In a pinch, if I’m not going to have my bag, I just bring my PigPogPDA with me in a pocket or carried.

    I’ve gotten a LOT of use out of my Rhodia. I always liked the portability of index cards, but for some reason found taking notes on index cards or brainstorming on them intimidating. I know that’s opposite a lot of other people’s experiences, but that’s how it played out for me. Having an actual pad of paper made it easier for me to write and take notes freely. I am capturing WAY more ideas than I was with index cards. Processing has also been a breeze. When I do my GTD weekly reviews, all my notes are in one place and it’s easy to transfer info to the appropriate places in my hipster.

    So yeah, I have been very pleased with how the PigPogPDA has worked out for me. I know none of what I’ve said has been too profound or anything, but I just wanted to say thank you for coming up with a really functional, fun tool.

  63. I’ve browsed through numerous Moleskine Hacks to make a GTD system perfectly suited for me. This is one of the guides that I’ve used some great tips from. Thank you.

    If you want to check my walkthrough, go here:

    http://jangeisler.wordpress.com (I haven’t actually recieved my Moleskines yet, so it’s still text-based. But the system is pretty darn good I think. Walkthrough pics will be uploaded when I recieve them.)

  64. I have numbered my moleskine, and will use the front for capturing. Use the pink, blue and yellow tags as described here. From the back, I’ll reserve 4 pages for a Project index. Then have projects starting from that 4th page in, page 186. Use green tabs for active projects. I also have purple tags for future use.

    I do have another moleskine small reporter for my diabetes food and glucose level journal. A small memo pad for the running supermarket list. And one of the small folder moleskines for extra tabs, index cards and other misc papers I want, but don’t want in my wallet.

  65. I like that a lot. It’s not quite as simple as the PigPogPDA, but it’s much more of a complete system.

  66. I just got my very first Moleskine today and it works really well with my favorite black 1.0mm Uni Jetstream This pen always confuse my friends as they will try to turn and press the cap thinking that the tip will come out from the silver tip. XD

  67. Thanks so much for your write-up. I’ve just come across the whole GTD universe and while I think things can get a little too involved, the basic ideas are great ones. I’ve tried using planners are PDAs before, but had no luck due to the feeling that I had to stick to a rigorous process that didn’t fit my wandering free thoughts. I think what you’ve come up with is great and I’ve used its ideas and a few other to come up with a system that seems to work well for me. As I said, this is relatively new to me. I have a write up of it at my website here.

    Thanks again.

  68. PigPog PDA is a great concept, I’ve been using it for a while and have had to pass the URL on to loads of people.

    I find the Moleskin a bit on the large side for pockets so I found a small spiral bound notebook that was robust enough for pocket use and has band to keep it closed. Europa Minor pad, from Tollit & Harvey is even robust enough to clip a Zebra F301 Compact on the back.

    [flickr-photo:id=2259832493,size=m]

  69. I love the idea of using a simple notebook as a planner, and as a student I find it helpful to do this alongside a more formal method such as a diary or filofax. Where I live it’s hard to find Moleskine notebooks, but I found a great alternative. WHSmith sell notebooks in lined and squared styles, hardback A5 for about £3.50. You can also buy a gorgeous leather cover with one of these inside for about fi8fteen pounds, and you just refill it with the hardback books. I love this idea because you can just use the refills if you want to save money, or you can have the stylish leather cover. Also the notebooks are sidebound, so you can use all the pages easily.

  70. Hi Scylax,

    I know the ones you mean – I’ve looked at them a few times, and they do look like nice quality notebooks – I was quite tempted by the idea of buying just the refill part, because even that looks pretty good.

  71. I had a similar problem I think and the way that I sorted it was by marking index tags: -

    @S = @Shopping, @I = @Internet, @H = @Home etc. etc.

    When I wrote the shopping list I would stick the tag on that page poking out the right hand side of the Moleskine Reporters pad. I might not go shopping for a couple of days so I would add new items as I went along. I would also be doing the same with things that I wanted to look at on the net @I, and things to do at work @W etc. etc.

    When I went shopping I would whip out my notebook and buy the things on the list then peel off the tag and stick it in the inside cover out of the way.

    Sometimes I would take down notes which I wanted to refer back to and I would have an un-marked index tag stuck on the left had side of the page poking out.

    The page before the next blank page always had a paper clip on the bottom of the page so that it was easy to flip open at the right place.

    If I am just brainstorming, but intending to be back at my Mac soon I just scribble everything outstanding on one page and add an @C index tag – @Computer.

    I am not sure if a similar system would work for you, but it seems fine for me. I don’t have to use the Moleskine as a standalone system though for 99% of the time.

  72. I hope that this isn’t a silly question: I love the template, the page numbering, and the capture/processed tabs. But where do people put things that they have processed (action lists, etc.) if they are using the moleskine as the entire system?

    I ask because it seems strange to just make a guess and go, say, 10 pages ahead to write a semi-permanent list, or group of project notes, and then end up using all of the pages before and after them for a lot of disorganized capturing. Ideally, there would be a good way to segregate out the semi-permanent information and frequently-referenced project notes.

    What do I mean by semi-permanent lists? I’m a journalist, and for me, capturing is largely about scribbing down story ideas, things that I may choose to work on next week, next year, or never. But it is great to have one single list entitled “Ideas,” and it seems messy to have to search for these things around a lot of scribbling. (I say search, because I can’t give everything an active tab: I may jot down half a page of notes for something that I won’t get to work on for another 8 months, so I don’t want yellow tabs. At the same time, I may want to reference easily.

    I was thinking that I might do the capture/processing sequence from the back of the notebook, and maintain the lists and important information up front. That way, the important ideas and brainstorming stuff is up front, and all of the random, disorganized stuff (“read article,” “call X,” “pick up drycleaning”) will be in the back.

    Then I could maintain a very simple action list–an index card with the important next actions paper-clipped to the current page, or a post-it note.

    Has anyone else tried anything like this?

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