PigPog » productivity http://pigpog.com It's just words and pictures Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:05:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 OmniFocus – Syncing Faster http://pigpog.com/2012/10/14/omnifocus-syncing-faster/ http://pigpog.com/2012/10/14/omnifocus-syncing-faster/#comments Sun, 14 Oct 2012 11:39:57 +0000 http://pigpog.com/?p=6446 I like OmniFocus. A lot. The sync service works really well. It didn’t seem quick, but it was reliable, and seemed to remain reliable when the connection wasn’t great. That’s handy when I’m syncing my iPhone on the way in to Tesco – the signal isn’t very good there, but I need my shopping list to be up to date. Otherwise, I might forget to replenish my stocks of Cherry Garcia, and that would be bad.

While reading the forums for something else, though, I just discovered the secret to faster syncing. Sync all devices often.

I have OmniFocus installed on my iPhone and MacBook Air. It’s also installed on my iMac, but rarely used on there. Because I don’t use it on there very often, that copy doesn’t sync very often. OmniFocus uses a transaction-based system for it’s sync files, where every change (or small set of changes made together) are turned into a zip file and uploaded. They get deleted when all known clients are up to date. I had over a thousand of them, and syncing was getting a bit slow. After syncing my iMac, then letting the other devices catch up, they all cleared away, and my iPhone now syncs in a couple of seconds.

On the Mac, you can check in Preferences, Sync for a list of the client machines it knows about. If you have any listed that you don’t use any more, you can remove them from there. You can also see from there when each copy of OmniFocus last synced. Once they are all recent, the zip file count (shown in iOS in OmniFocus Settings) should drop over the next few syncs.

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Yet Another Filofax Again – Pocket Guildford http://pigpog.com/2008/04/19/yet-another-filofax/ http://pigpog.com/2008/04/19/yet-another-filofax/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2008 14:43:34 +0000 my last Scribbles post, I'd just settled on using the Mini Guildford Filofax. I ended that post with:
It’s quite possible I’ll be back to the Moleskine within a day or two, or that I’ll try to stretch my jeans pocket to cram in my Pocket Filofax. I have a worrying amount of fun trying them, though, and that’s the important thing.
I was writing that entry in the Filofax at the time, and by time I'd written it, I was feeling cramped on such small paper. It doesn't help that the Mini paper has slightly wider lines than the larger Pocket paper. By the time I was typing that post up, I'd pretty much decided that the Mini was too small. I tried my old Pocket Lyndhurst again. It was good, with a lot more space for my notes, but a bit of a stretch on the pocket. Although they call that size "Pocket", it's only really for quite big pockets.]]>
When I wrote my last Scribbles post, I’d just settled on using the Mini Guildford Filofax. I ended that post with:

It’s quite possible I’ll be back to the Moleskine within a day or two, or that I’ll try to stretch my jeans pocket to cram in my Pocket Filofax. I have a worrying amount of fun trying them, though, and that’s the important thing.

I was writing that entry in the Filofax at the time, and by time I’d written it, I was feeling cramped on such small paper. It doesn’t help that the Mini paper has slightly wider lines than the larger Pocket paper. By the time I was typing that post up, I’d pretty much decided that the Mini was too small. I tried my old Pocket Lyndhurst again. It was good, with a lot more space for my notes, but a bit of a stretch on the pocket. Although they call that size “Pocket”, it’s only really for quite big pockets.

The Lyndhurst is one of the biggest Filofax binders in any given size – the Pocket Lyndhurst is the biggest of the Pocket binders. So, I decided to have a look at the other Pocket binders, and see how much difference it made. We had a trip to Staples, and I tried a few, including the pocket test (which must look very suspicious – especially when I have one Filofax in my pocket at the start of my testing, so end up grabbing one back from the shelf and into my pocket before leaving). None of them seemed small enough that I was sure. I bought some paper in both Pocket and Mini sizes so I could continue my experiments with the binders I already had.

I switched everything over to the Pocket Lyndhurst, and used it for a few days. Despite being a bit of a pocket-bulge, it went well. I finally gave in when we popped into another branch of Staples for more paper, and bought a Pocket Guildford. I already had the Mini Guildford, and it’s a really nice binder – a big full ‘wallet-style’ pocket around the outside, zipped section and card pockets on the inside, but keeping quite a small, thin profile.

So far, I’m getting on very well with it. It’s still quite big for a pocket, and probably not what most people would count as pocketable, but it works well for me. The Pocket sized paper is just big enough that I don’t feel like I’m getting through too many sheets, and lists can consist of a reasonable number of items. It’s just like the Pocket Lyndhust, but slightly easier on the pocket.

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Alright Michael, I get it. Now help me. http://pigpog.com/2007/12/28/i-get-it-now-help-me/ http://pigpog.com/2007/12/28/i-get-it-now-help-me/#comments Fri, 28 Dec 2007 12:43:15 +0000 sticks and he's always changing his mind. It seemed quite hilarious and very odd to me, until a week or so ago. As 2007 prepares for the final curtain and 2008 waits in the wings, I also find myself in need of a comfortable and reliable way of recording my food diaries and other bits and bobs.]]> I used to take the proverbial out of my husband for the way he’d constantly be fiddling around with his ‘system’. He’d scribble his thoughts and ideas into notebooks, various sizes of filofax, various digital devices, but nothing really sticks and he’s always changing his mind. It seemed quite hilarious and very odd to me, until a week or so ago. As 2007 prepares for the final curtain and 2008 waits in the wings, I also find myself in need of a comfortable and reliable way of recording my food diaries and other bits and bobs.

This year, as I settled into doing Slimming World, I played around with various different ways of keeping a food diary and planning shopping lists. I had a Hipster PDA for a while, various notebooks and two different sizes of Filofax. I ended up settling with a Paperblanks diary that the Organisational Master himself bought for me back in Nottingham last year. It worked a treat. So, you’d think the solution would be easy… get another one? Yeah, I thought that too until I couldn’t bloody find one. Our local suppliers seemed to run out of any diaries around, er, Christmas…

In the absence of the obvious answer, same again for ’08, I went on the hunt for a suitable replacement. It seems no other diary has the same layout as the Paperblanks, and most seem to think that weekends don’t need as much space as the rest of the week. I looked at Filofaxes, and in a moment of utter lunacy bought a cheap ‘personal’ size one. I was happy with this for a while, until I tried using it. It just doesn’t feel right. There’s not enough room, the damn thing’s too big, and it’s not a Paperblanks diary, dammit!

So today I’ve tried going the way of the DIY Planner, making my own special custom diary with space to write everything down, little tickboxes for what day I’m doing and… feh, it smacks. Frankly it requires more time using Excel than I’m willing to when I’m not being paid.

Michael, it’s no good. I’ve got to get a Paperblanks. Nothing else is going to work. You know how it is. That’s why you’ll be asking for your A5 Lyndhurst back in a couple of months, and this time I promise I won’t take the piss. I know how it feels now.

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43Folders Gets Drupal http://pigpog.com/2007/09/22/43folders-gets-drupal/ http://pigpog.com/2007/09/22/43folders-gets-drupal/#comments Sat, 22 Sep 2007 12:42:42 +0000 43Folders has just relaunched using Drupal. It's looking really good so far - Merlin drafted in a few people who actually know what they're doing with Drupal, where PigPog just had me and a poking-stick to try to make things work. If you're into productivity pr0n and GTD stuff in any way, I'm sure you're already a big fan of Merlin's site, but it's certainly worth going and having a fresh look.]]> 43Folders has just relaunched using Drupal. It’s looking really good so far – Merlin drafted in a few people who actually know what they’re doing with Drupal, where PigPog just had me and a poking-stick to try to make things work. If you’re into productivity pr0n and GTD stuff in any way, I’m sure you’re already a big fan of Merlin’s site, but it’s certainly worth going and having a fresh look.

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60 Ways to be More Creative http://pigpog.com/2007/04/29/60-ways-to-be-more-creative/ http://pigpog.com/2007/04/29/60-ways-to-be-more-creative/#comments Sun, 29 Apr 2007 14:14:37 +0000 Latest Update: Removed final suggestion to follow PigPog – we don’t talk about creative stuff as often these days. Removed a few other things that aren’t relevant any more, so the total is a bit under 60 now.

Derwent Graphitint 24-pack Inside

Many of us want to be more creative in our day-to-day lives, so here are a few ideas to get you going – many of them very quick and easy…

Eleven Ways to be Creative with Art

  • Check our Recent Posts about art, and make sure you’ve seen our Main Articles – you might get some ideas there.
  • Find a way of sharing your drawings or sketches with other people – the feedback you get could really help. Try deviantART (see our review) – because it’s aimed at art more than photography, you’ll get more feedback than you would using a photo sharing site.
  • Have a go at Tea Sketches (halfway down that page). You have to prepare when you drink tea, or splash some coffee, but you can build up a little stash of prepared cards. Turning one into a sketch doesn’t take long.
  • Doodle more. All you need is a pen by the phone. Even at work you can doodle. Doesn’t matter if it’s any good or not, just doodle.
  • Try out ArtRage – a paint simulator for Windows or Mac. The basic version is free (and the full version is pretty cheap if you get hooked and want the extra features), but it’s still plenty of fun. It’s even better if you have a graphics tablet or a Tablet PC.
  • Try drawing something. Doesn’t matter what, or when. Just grab a sheet of A4 from your printer, and draw something nearby – maybe even the printer you just stole the paper from.
  • If you do a bit of drawing already, try drawing with something different – if you usually use a pencil, try switching to a pen. Some people have found it gives new life to their art when they know they can’t keep erasing and correcting – it makes it more alive. If you usually use a pen, try pencil. Try charcoal. Try whatever you can find.
  • Try this drawing upside down exercise – it tricks your brain and you’ll be amazed at the result!
  • Learn to Draw or to Draw People
  • Why not join The Drawing Club? You can join in with the Yahoo! Group and share your drawings with other people. (Update: the club is somewhat dormant these days.)
  • Draw on something unusual – doodle on your food packaging, or whatever else comes to hand. A Sharpie is ideal for this.

Seven Ways to be Creative with Craft

  • Try making a ‘sketch’ with Post-it notes and scissors. Cut the note into the shape of something, and stand it up by sticking it to your desk and folding just behind the glue.
  • Get yourself to your local craft supplies shop, and pick up some card making stuff. Especially if it’s not the sort of thing you’d usually do. Make cards for people this year, instead of giving all your money to Hallmark.
  • Explore craft supplies stores like Hobbycraft for all-in-one project sets. Gives you the chance to try out whatever you fancy without investing in large amounts of equipment.
  • Bored? We’ve got a few papercraft projects for you to try.
  • Keep an eye on Make: for plenty of unusual projects to inspire you.
  • Get a few basics in that you can make anything with – Duct tape, some different types of glue, a craft knife, a metal ruler, string, and maybe a Swiss army knife or Leatherman.

Seven Ways to be Creative with Music

  • Have a play with some of the toys listed in our Online Music page. Desktop Blues is great fun, and takes no musical skill whatsoever – even I can do it.
  • Don’t have an instrument? Get one. It doesn’t need to cost too much – a cheap electric guitar or keyboard can be had for surprisingly little. If you’re in the UK, eBuyer have electric guitars for under £50, and you can get electric and acoustic guitars from Amazon in the US.
  • Be brave. Go to a music shop and try out a few instruments. Most people who work there don’t bite, and if they do, it’s on their own time.
  • Get everyone else out of the house. Lock the door. Take the phone off the hook. Put on your favourite album and rock out. It’s good for you.
  • Sing along – the car is the best place. When you’re not stuck in traffic, it’s difficult for anyone else to see or hear your embarrassing wailing.
  • Have a bang at the Virtual Drum Kit.

Eight Ways to be Creative with Photography

  • Buy a photography magazine. In the UK, Practical Photography is my favourite. There are plenty of magazines out there full of ideas, though.
  • If you’re not already signed up, give Flickr a go. You can share your photos there with other people, and see what other people are doing. Add tags to your pictures, then click the little ‘world’ icons next to them to see what other people have taken with that tag.
  • Once you’ve tried Flickr out, try joining some Groups. There are groups for just about anything you can imagine, and if you can think of something that doesn’t exist, you can make a new group yourself. Groups can be really inspiring, as you start looking out for things that match the groups you have joined.
  • Drool over toys at DP Review – they do the best reviews out there, and they get all the best toys.
  • Think of a theme to take pictures of. Peter Bryenton has an ongoing theme of threes – anything that comes in threes. You’ll be surprised how much more you notice things, if you pick something good. I joined a group on Flickr for ‘Bright Colours on Gray’, and suddenly I was seeing bright things on gray backgrounds everywhere. Getting stuck in roadworks became a great photo opportunity.
  • Try doing more of something you don’t do. If you normally shy away from photographing people, try snapping your family and friends. If you usually only do people, try pointing your camera at inanimate objects more often. Think of something you don’t do, and do it.
  • Take 3 digital photos from your collection and turn them into a collage in Photoshop (or Paint Shop Pro, The GIMP, etc). Don’t try to join them invisibly, and feel free to use more than three. Have a look at my attempts.

Seven Ways to be Creative at Work

  • If your job is sapping your creativity, it might be worth thinking about a change.
  • Keep an eye on 43 Folders – Merlin is full of ideas for being more productive, and the people over at 43 Folders have a more creative take on the whole thing than most.
  • Try a change. I change my whole ‘productivity system’ around three or four times a week, and I don’t recommend it, but if you’ve been using the same system for a while and it’s not getting the results, a change might do you some good. If nothing else, it forces a full review of what you’re up to, which can make a big difference in itself. If you’re all paper-based at the moment, why not try doing everything on a computer? If you’re using a computer now, why not try setting up a DIY Planner for yourself, and see how you get on with paper and pen?
  • Suffer from the opposite problem? Like me, can’t you stop ‘playing’ with your system? Try forcing yourself to stick with something simple for a while. Just a few bits of paper, of a few text files, maybe. You might get some insights into more creative ways of using the simple tools, rather than just throwing more tools at the problem.
  • Try mind mapping, if you don’t already. Just write the heading in the middle of the page instead of at the top, and start scribbling outwards from there. You can find this really frees up your more creative side, and can give you new insights.
  • Keep something handy for making notes anywhere – never lose an idea. A folded index card in a pocket is enough.

Eight Ways to be Creative with Writing

  • Have a look through some of the articles linked from our Improving your Writing page – there are lots of great ideas in there.
  • Try switching methods. If you usually only write at your computer, try gabbing a pad and a pen, and sitting somewhere a bit more pleasant. If you normally use pen, try writing directly on your computer.
  • Read more. Sounds obvious, but if you’re going to output, you need input. To write, it can help if you read. Sign up at Bloglines if you don’t already use an RSS reader, and find a few interesting blogs to subscribe to. Stick a book in the bathroom, and you’ll get at least some reading each day ;)
  • Why not start a blog of your own? It’s easy enough to get started somewhere like WordPress, Blogger or Vox, and it doesn’t have to cost anything. It can give you a bit of incentive to write regularly (though you’d be surprised how many blogs consist entirely of a post every three months saying “I should blog more”). If you hope to sell your writing, it can also serve as an easy way to keep contact with potential customers, and to make new contacts.
  • Get a copy of Writing Down The Bones (Search for "Writing Down The Bones" on: DuckDuckGo, Amazon UK, Amazon US) by Natalie Goldberg), and dip into it whenever you need a push.
  • Set up a system for storing the little nuggets of information you happen on, and store them somewhere you can find them again. See my post on Storing Nuggets of Information for some ideas, but you probably don’t want to get too hung up on how – just stick them all in a folder for now (computer folder or cardboard), and work that out later.
  • Keep a journal for the year. The only person you’re writing for is yourself, so you can just let go and get all your thoughts down on paper.

Twelve Ways to Mix ‘em Up!

Where the categories above meet…

  • Write about your productivity system.
  • Take photos of a musical instrument.
  • Draw pictures on cards for people’s birthdays.
  • Write about the day you took your favourite photo.
  • Take a photo of a place you spent a happy day.
  • Write a tune inspired by one of your photos.
  • Make a musical instrument. Probably start with something percussive ;)
  • Take photos of your favourite productivity tools.
  • Draw your camera.
  • Make a case for carrying index cards. Clue: duct tape ;)
  • Draw something from your favourite fiction book.
  • Buy a guitar magazine and draw your favourites.
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PigPogPDA – A Moleskine Hacked into a Complete System http://pigpog.com/2007/01/20/pigpogpda-a-moleskine-hacked-into-a-complete-system/ http://pigpog.com/2007/01/20/pigpogpda-a-moleskine-hacked-into-a-complete-system/#comments Sat, 20 Jan 2007 16:45:39 +0000 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 (Search for "Moleskine Pocket Reporter" on: DuckDuckGo, 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.
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GTD: Processing Whilst Collecting – Is It a Problem? http://pigpog.com/2006/08/14/gtd-processing-whilst-collecting-is-it-a-problem/ http://pigpog.com/2006/08/14/gtd-processing-whilst-collecting-is-it-a-problem/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 thinking in GTD terms. You spot something that needs doing in the living room, and your mind jumps straight to "Hmm - tidy side table needs to go on @Home." The problem is that this isn't how GTD is supposed to work. You're supposed to just capture the fact that the side table is a mess, and process that note later. Once you get used to doing it, though, you shortcut through the steps and just find yourself wanting to stick the item straight on the appropriate list.]]> Once you’ve been doing GTD for a while (however half-assed your implementation), you start to find yourself thinking in GTD terms. You spot something that needs doing in the living room, and your mind jumps straight to “Hmm – tidy side table needs to go on @Home.” The problem is that this isn’t how GTD is supposed to work. You’re supposed to just capture the fact that the side table is a mess, and process that note later. Once you get used to doing it, though, you shortcut through the steps and just find yourself wanting to stick the item straight on the appropriate list.

The Theory

In theory, the way it should work is this…

  • You spot the messy table.
  • You make a quick note, “Living room side table messy”, and put it in your inbox. In practice, this could be a category in your Palm, a page in your notebook, or a real sheet of paper in a real in tray. The David has always said that the implementation doesn’t really matter.
  • Later, when processing, you pick up the note, and decide what to do with it…
    • What is it? A note of something that needs doing.
    • What’s the next action? Tidying the table.
    • Will that action complete the loop? Yes. It’s a single action, not a project.
    • Can it be done now? I’m at home, upstairs, but yes, I could go and do it now.
    • Will it take less than two minutes? No. It’s really quite a mess.
    • Defer It: Add it to the appropriate context list – in this case, probably @Home.

The Practice

Once you’ve got the idea of GTD, what you’ll probably do is cut through most of that…

  • You spot the messy table.
  • You add Tidy side table in living room to your @Home list.

No Problem

You got the same result, and all that really happened is that you jumped instantly from spotting the situation, to the end result (well, before actually doing it, anyway). There isn’t a problem. You saved a bunch of time, and saved yourself a chunk of work.

Except…

Where it Might be a Problem

There are a couple of situations I can see where this sort of shortcut can be a problem…

  • Avoiding Thinking: You’re just pretending to make the shortcut, but you’re really avoiding thinking about something, and you end up cutting out the middle steps, and putting something on your list that’s still stuff. It’s not really a single action, so you can’t do it. Using the sortcut is ok, but you need to take care that you are skipping the thinking parts because they’re really obvious, not because you just don’t want to do them.
  • Your System Requires It: I found recently that I’d set up a system for myself that involved me making a checkbox or a dash before things as I captured them. Anything with a checkbox needed something doing about it; dashes were just there for information. The problem was that I had to decide which things were actionable before I’d written them down. Don’t do this. It’s important that your collection tool allows you to just make notes, and work out later if they’re actionable or not. Otherwise, you’ll either rush the decision so you can start writing, and get it wrong, or you’ll end up not making a note of some things at all, because you’re not sure how to start.

Conclusion

Generally, processing whilst collecting is ok, as long as you’re doing it because it’s become so obvious to you. Beware of the traps, though. Don’t let stuff end up on your action lists, don’t sidestep the thinking process when it is needed, and make sure you’re set up for noting down anything, anytime, without worrying about what it actually is until later.

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GTD – The PigPog Method http://pigpog.com/2006/07/11/gtd-the-pigpog-method/ http://pigpog.com/2006/07/11/gtd-the-pigpog-method/#comments Tue, 11 Jul 2006 11:20:28 +0000 Last Update: Added a link for Gretchen (one of the people who helped create the PigPog Method), to her new site - Girls Can't WHAT? - inspiration for girls who can. This article describes how I actually implement the GTD system using my iPaq and Microsoft Outlook, though it could be done just as well with almost any computerised lists. It's my solution to the GTD problem of linking next actions to their project. If you don't know what GTD is, you'd probably best start with my introduction. If you do GTD, but use paper and pen, have a look at MarkTAW's Cascading Next Actions method - similar, but designed for paper users. GTD is all based on David Allen's excellent books. You'll get far more from reading the books than from any web site.

Introduction

]]>
Last Update: Added a link for Gretchen (one of the people who helped create the PigPog Method), to her new site – Girls Can’t WHAT? – inspiration for girls who can.

This article describes how I actually implement the GTD system using my iPaq and Microsoft Outlook, though it could be done just as well with almost any computerised lists. It’s my solution to the GTD problem of linking next actions to their project. If you don’t know what GTD is, you’d probably best start with my introduction. If you do GTD, but use paper and pen, have a look at MarkTAW’s Cascading Next Actions method – similar, but designed for paper users.

GTD is all based on David Allen’s excellent books. You’ll get far more from reading the books than from any web site.

Introduction

This article covers how I implement the GTD system – there’s quite a few other ways, which you may want to look at before reading this one.

The Problem

There’s a few problems that people have with GTD…

Actually Doing Things

GTD is great at organising what you have to do, and keeping you on top of everything, but if you don’t actually do any of the things, it’s only of limited help. Anyone who knows me could vouch for the fact that I’m probably not the best person to advise on that ;)

If you really want my thoughts on it, see my post on GTD’s Dirty Secrets.

Weekly Reviews

A lot of people resist doing the weekly review. It’s pretty much vital for GTD that you don’t skip weekly reviews, but it’s a problem for many people. My system reduces the impact of missing one a little, but only a little. By making the review a bit easier, though, it might make you resist it less. It might not, but it’s worth a shot.

Connecting Projects to Actions

Ah. This is the one for the PigPog Method. This we can help with. Read on.

The PigPog Method

Background

I should point out before I start that the PigPog Method was produced through a long discussion between quite a few people on the GtD_Palm Yahoo! Group. It’s by no means all my idea, and in fact even the post where I started it all off was just me pulling together a few ideas I’d picked up from the group. Too many people to remember had valuable suggestions that, put together, made this method, but special thanks should go to James Cameron, Gretchen, Ricky Spears, Harold (I think?), and Teri Pitman.

The Basic Setup

Personally, I implement this using Outlook Tasks, but you should be able to apply the PigPog Method with almost any setup. It wouldn’t be a convenient system with paper, though, it really needs a computer of some sort. I’ve used the same system in the past with Palm PDAs and an iPaq hx4700. Both worked well.

For the most part, my lists are pretty close to the standard ones David Allen recommends. I keep any non-action stuff in the Memos / Notes, rather than Tasks, so Someday/Maybe goes there. My @Action lists are…

  • @Anywhere
  • @Home
  • @Internet
  • @Other
  • @Waiting For
  • @Work

There’s also ‘Agendas’ at the bottom of the list, for things I need to speak to somebody about.

What? Where’s the Projects List?

David Allen says we need a Projects list to keep track of all of those things we need to do that will take more than one action to be complete. That way, when we have ticked off the first action on that project, we won’t forget about it altogether. However, these things will only get picked up once a week at the weekly review. There is the risk that you’ll end up forgetting about something for up to a week, that really needed doing before. Also, I always found the ‘projects’ part of the weekly review to be annoyingly difficult and time consuming. For every project on the list, and it can be quite a few (David reckons 40-70 is common), you have to search for a matching action on one of the six (in my case – however many you have) @Action lists. If you don’t find one, does that mean you just didn’t look carefully enough, or is there really no action in your lists for this one? How do you know it when you see it? It’s not so bad if you look at the project and can remember what the next action was – then you will probably know where to look for it, and can make sure it’s there pretty quickly. If you can’t remember what the next action was, though, you could have a tricky time trying to find one.

In the PigPog Method, we get rid of the Projects list entirely. In a computerised system, it’s just not needed any more, and keeping track of it is a big waste of time. Using the example we used when forming the method on the GtD_Palm group, if your project was ‘Conquer Albania’, and the first action was ‘Place Army Wanted Ad’, the item on your tasks list would be Place Army Wanted Ad {Conquer Albania}. Your project and its associated next action are there together on the one line. This item goes in whatever @Action context list it belongs in. If you are going to place the ad on eBay, it would go in your @Internet list. Once you’ve placed the ad, you just edit the item to Responses to Ad {Conquer Albania}, and move it to your @Waiting For list.

Planning and Keeping History

If you like to plan your projects a bit further, you can put planned future actions in the notes for the task, and just copy and paste them into the subject line when you’re ready. I use a template that I inserted using Pop! (costs a little) on the Palm. You can also use TeikeiDA (free) if you know enough about Palm DAs (Desk Accessories) to be able to deal with the Japanese documentation (or if you can read Japanese), or use Shortkeys Lite (free) for Windows. Anyway, the template…

>=Outcome=
>
>=Plans=
>
>=History=
>
>=Notes=

Outcome is a statement of the desired outcome – how we’ll know when the project is complete. I’m actually completely hopeless about filling this in. Plans is for any actions planned in the future. History is for actions that have been completed, or notes of things that happened that were connected with this project – I timestamp these using another Pop! (or Shortkeys Lite) shortcut. I keep less history now than I used to – it wasn’t something I used often enough to need it, but you may be different – if so, remember to copy the information to somewhere else if you purge your completed tasks. Notes is for any other information. In the case of things like these blog entries, the notes will contain the actual article as I’m working on it. This is being typed into the Notes section of an Outlook task entitled Write {Blog: GTD: PigPog Method} right now. That way, all my work in progress is always with me in my Palm, ready to be worked on anywhere.

Advantages

The biggest advantage for me is that I never have to worry about projects not having a next action. I’m forced to think about what I’m going to do next with a project before I can update the system to the fact that I’ve just done something. That helps to keep things moving. I’m slightly encouraged to do more than one thing, as that saves changing the item as many times. The Weekly Review is less daunting, because the hardest part of it is automatically taken care of. There’s one less list to look at. When I find the item that says that I should write a blog entry about something, the notes from when I brainstormed about it are right there in the task item. When I come to review and proofread one I already wrote, the written article is right there ready.

Disadvantages

There’s only really one major disadvantage to this method – there can only be one next action. If you often have the sort of projects where you could do several different things next, depending on where you are when you have the time and inclination, this may be a problem. There’s nothing to actually stop you from sometimes making a separate action that isn’t physically attached to the project, but if you have to do that a lot, the PigPog Method may not work well for you. When you’re new to the PigPog Method, there is also the danger that you could tick off a whole Project on ‘auto-pilot’, when you only intended to tick off the action. To work around this, you can keep completed tasks visible, and purge at the end of each week, so everything gets an extra check before it’s actually gone. This also gives you a second chance to copy any history you want to keep to the calendar where it won’t get purged.

Conclusion

I find the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages, but then again, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this at all, would I? It takes away a lot of what I found unpleasant and difficult with GTD, and makes it all feel much more fluid. I’m a born fiddler, and I do keep trying different methods, but the simplicity of the PigPog Method has lured me back every time.

So far.

Other Resources

GTD Wannabe has made some macros especially for doing the PigPog method with Outlook – I’m honoured…

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GTD’s Dirty Secrets http://pigpog.com/2006/02/10/gtd-dirty-secrets/ http://pigpog.com/2006/02/10/gtd-dirty-secrets/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2006 09:48:11 +0000 big secret that you might not have found out yet.]]> There’s two little secrets and one Big Dirty Secret to GTD. Don’t get me wrong here – I like GTD – it’s a useful system, and it works well. There’s a couple of secrets that you’re never told, though, and one big secret. It’s time to let the secrets out.

(Drumroll…)

(Feeling the tension yet?)

(Maybe I’m giving this too much build-up.)

(Here goes…)

  • The best way to get things done is to do them.

There. It doesn’t matter how much you push things around your lists, and how carefully you pick the contexts for them, if you don’t do them, you won’t get them done. Sounds obvious when it’s all spelled out, doesn’t it? Does to me now I’ve worked it out, but until I did, I could spend weeks moving things around my lists without actually ever doing anything.

Actually, I still can, but at least I know what’s going on now. I’m just no good at doing anything about it.

If you’re not careful, your GTD system itself can become a whole world of procrastination that you rarely escape from to actually do things. Anyway, this leads us to the second secret…

  • The best way to do them is to start doing them.

Again, it sounds obvious, but how many things are on your lists that you haven’t started doing even though you’ve had time (if you’re honest). I can spend all day flat out doing absolutely nothing, and at the end of the day, I haven’t started on anything useful at all. I haven’t had time.

If you’re going to get any of those things done, you need to actually start doing them. The start doesn’t have to be much. Mark Forster has a simple trick that he refers to as just getting the file out. You make a start by giving yourself permission to do the smallest possible amount of work on something, even if it wouldn’t help at all, but you make yourself do that bit. It might just be getting the file out, or it might just be creating and opening a blank document that you could start typing in if you were going to do more. But you don’t have to do more. If you’ve been putting off doing the dishes, you could just put them in the sink and add some hot water.

The point is that the very small step isn’t offputting enough that you don’t start, but once you’ve started, you probably won’t stop and put the file away again. You probably won’t just close the document without doing anything else, and you probably won’t leave the dishes to sit in the water or drain the sink again – you might at least write a paragraph or two, or jot down a few ideas that occur to you whilst you’re there, or at least wash a few items. The key is to get yourself started.

OK. That’s the two little secrets. Ready for the big one? Oh, come on, don’t kid me – it’s just underneath this text, and I know you’ve already skipped ahead and read it…

  • GTD is of no help at all with making you want to do things.

It’s a nice little method of keeping track of all the things you need to do, but if you don’t actually want to do them in the first place, it won’t make you want to do them when they’re on the lists. I even find myself resisting looking at the context lists, because I know they’ll be full of things I don’t actually want to do. The problem lies in making yourself want to do the things on your lists, otherwise you won’t start doing them. And as we’ve already covered – if you don’t start doing them, you won’t get them done.

So how do you make yourself want to do things? That’s a tricky one, and I don’t really have any answers. (No, come back. I’ve got a few ideas. They might help.) If your lists are too full of things you really don’t want to do, it might be time to have a good think about your life – is it what you want? Is your job something you actually don’t want to do? How can you go about changing it? Maybe you actually don’t want to do all that DIY work to get your house into the state you want it in, and you’d have been better moving somewhere that wasn’t described as “ideal for a DIY enthusiast” in the brochure.

Assuming things are basically how you want them, it might be that you just need to spend a bit more time thinking at the higher levels – working out why you’re actually doing some of these things – what’s the longer term gain from them? Visualise where you want to be, and how some of the tasks that are on your lists will help with getting you there – that might give you that extra bit of motivation to get going on them, or at least to stop being scared of looking at the lists.

Alternatively, just give yourself permission to go through your lists, and move a few things you really don’t want to do (and won’t cause any really huge problems if you don’t do them), and just move them to your Someday/Maybe list. You can always move them back once you get a few other things out of the way, but if you’ve not been doing them anyway, you’re not losing anything by getting rid of them – and it might just make the lists feel a bit more enticing.

Once you actually want to do the things on your lists, GTD is a great way to organise them – it will give you nice simple lists of the things you can do at any point, with a fairly minimal overhead. Until you want to do them, though, it can be just another way to put them off.

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Doing GTD Without Doing GTD http://pigpog.com/2005/10/26/doing-gtd-without-doing-gtd/ http://pigpog.com/2005/10/26/doing-gtd-without-doing-gtd/#comments Wed, 26 Oct 2005 13:15:46 +0000 Introduction I'm not really doing GTD any more. There. I've admitted it. That feels better. Why? Well, it's just too much to manage for the stuff I actually need to track. I can't use a single system, as work related stuff has to remain at work, and personal stuff has to remain outside work's systems. I suspect most people are in this situation, unlike the upper management level people David Allen tends to address his writing and seminars to. At work, everything has to be in a specific online system, and there isn't really the time to duplicate all that in another system to apply GTD to.]]> Introduction

I’m not really doing GTD any more. There. I’ve admitted it.

That feels better. Why? Well, it’s just too much to manage for the stuff I actually need to track. I can’t use a single system, as work related stuff has to remain at work, and personal stuff has to remain outside work’s systems. I suspect most people are in this situation, unlike the upper management level people David Allen tends to address his writing and seminars to.

At work, everything has to be in a specific online system, and there isn’t really the time to duplicate all that in another system to apply GTD to.

Personal stuff, like PigPog, can be managed however I want, but isn’t all that complicated, and there’s a big advantage to keeping the work in progress for these articles right here in the Wiki – it means that the whole process is more open, and anyone can jump in at any stage. Anyway, that’s just my reasons.

Who Doesn’t Need to do GTD?

  • Anyone without all that much stuff to track. GTD is great when there’s lots of new stuff flowing at you. If there isn’t all that much, it may well feel a bit over-the-top. Not everybody has a life that complicated. Doesn’t mean it’s easy or they don’t do much, but it might not actually take much tracking.
  • Anyone who can’t mix personal and work stuff. You could maintain two separate GTD systems, but you’re looking at a lot of overhead. Some people might need it anyway, but not everyone.
  • Anyone with defined systems that have to handle their stuff. At work, there’s a system that everything has to be in so other people can see what’s happening. It’s not perfect, but there’s very strong reasons why it has to be used. For PigPog stuff, the ToDo page here in the wiki (no longer exists, but did at the time of writing) and draft posts for the blog can keep everything online, and for the wiki, gives anyone who’s interested visibility of what we’re planning and what we’re working on. Again, strong reasons (nearly the same reasons) to use those systems.

So Why an Article?

If we’re not going to do GTD, why another GTD article? Because there’s still a lot to pick up from GTD even if you’re not doing the full thing.

Things to Take from GTD Even if You’re Not Doing GTD

So what can we gain from GTD if we’re not going to bother with the whole system?

Next Actions

One of the core points about GTD is defining Next Actions – the very next thing you’ll do about something to move it on. This is still a great concept. I still think in these terms about things I’m planning to do. The first action for writing this article was just adding it to the ToDo page, so it was there, listed in public, with a quick note of what it was going to be about.

That one little action was enough to kick-start me into writing it.

Don’t think about all the things you’ll have to do – just the next one.

Capturing

In GTD, capturing is the first stage – any new ideas or thoughts you have should be captured – just scribbled on a bit of paper and chucked into your inbox to process later. I still think this is a really important thing – to let yourself capture thoughts and ideas without feeling the need to do something specific about them at the time, or even think about what you might actually do about them later. Just capture it. Come back to it later, and it might mean nothing, in which case, discard it. It might be a valuable idea, though, that if you’d made yourself try to think about at the time, you’d have given up and lost.

Make sure you’ve always got something with you to capture ideas, even if it’s just a folded up sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.

Lists

Keeping lists is something David Allen is very keen on – lists of things he might want to buy, things he might want to do, places he might want to go, or anything else. Lists are useful, and they can clear things out of our mind so we can stop worrying about them. If you find yourself trying to remember a list of things, write them down, and save your brain for something else.

Trusted System

Even if you’re not doing GTD as such, it’s worth having some sort of Trusted System. However much system you do have, make sure you can trust it. I found GTD too much effort to manage for the stuff that I was tracking with it, so I resisted doing it, and things fell through the cracks anyway – being too organised became a problem. Simplifying has let me trust the system I do use.

So, What Do You Do Now?

If I’m not doing GTD, what am I doing? Do I still have some sort of system? Yes. I do. It’s simple, and works pretty well for me. I’m calling it the PigPogPDA.

What About The Books?

If you’ve not read David Allen’s books, I still recommend them – even if you’re pretty sure you’re not going to do GTD – there’s still penty of good information and ideas, and lots more detail on some of the stuff I’ve covered here.

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