With the help of my distant friends

It is a well known fact that you start "Getting Things Done" full of enthusiasm and good intentions. Unfortunatley, after while things tend to fall back in the old rusty routine and the recommended way of "getting back in the saddle" is to re-read David Allens book.

However, I would also recommend hanging out at 43 Folders Google Group (started by Merlin Mann). I have stayed out of touch for over a week, and now when I have read all the queued up entries from the group members I can feel that familiar tingling feeling coming back. Lifehacking becomes fun all over again.

A warning though, the group is Mac biased and after awhile you will become a wannebe Mac owner yourself. It seems that the Macintosh crowd has the coolest tools.


Try get intimate with a PDA

Douglas Johnston has some thoughts regarding the movement from digital to analog:

So what is it?

Pure and simple, I think the keyword is intimacy.

Try and curl up with a TabletPC, laptop or PDA for a few hours. Your eyes hurt, the hard shape is awkward, you’re constantly checking for remaining battery time (or juggling a cord), and –despite this day and age– it’s not easy to build any sort of bond or connection to a machine, especially ones so transitory and mass-produced.

What I call efficiency, Douglas calls intimacy. I got to hand it to him, intimacy beats efficiency anyday.

Link to: Paper? ain't that extinct?


Write it down and say it loud, and you'll remember

You may, just as me, have noticed that you remember things better when you write it down. Just the process of writing it down makes it stick in your memory. A friend of mine had an explanation for this. She used the following technique to remember stuff she was reading while studying at the university. It all has to do with our senses. If you read, you will only use vision. If you write it down as well you use both vision and touch. If it was important she would also say it loud while writing it down thus using hearing as well. The same message would reach her brain through eyes, fingers and ears and really get imprinted.

Say it loud while writing it down and you will remember it better. It works.


The Francis Crick Papers

Speaking of handwritten documents and notebooks; an archive of the papers Francis Crick -- one of the discoverers of DNA -- has been digitized and put online. It includes this first sketch of the DNA molecule. Browsing through these are like looking into the thought process of a great mind.

The Francis Crick Papers: The Discovery of the Double Helix, 1951-1953


No paper? No pen?? Start the panic!

I forgot my Zipster at my office today. I didn't think it was such a big deal, I have forgotten my Palm PDA before. You can make without it for a day. No big deal. Yeah, right!
One of the things I did tonight (before writing this) was catching up on all the different RSS feeds I read. Way to many really. Anyway, I got a couple of ideas, and things I wanted to follow up the day after. But I had no Zipster! I actually felt a panic for not having a proper places to jot down memos for the next day. First I thought that I would be able to remember the stuff, but 5 minutes later I realized that I already forgotten one so I had to jot things down on a piece of paper. Now I just have to remember to bring that piece of paper tomorrow.
Food for thought; I lost one good idea after 5 minutes. I wonder how many good ideas I lost through the years just because I believed I could keep them in my head? Will I meet them all when I die?

The power of the handwritten text

In the blog Vu d'ici (via Journalisimo) says "Checking out Kurt Cobain's diary while out for lunch time ..., I thought that every single book on earth should be handwritten."
That reminds me of the classic book by personal computer visionary Ted Nelson, Computer Lib/Dream Machines. It is a large format book filled with typewrited text, handwritten references, notes and corrections. It has handdrawn diagrams, Xeroxed photos, comics and computer art. Reading it is like reading a scientific essay in the format of a fanzine. It is so filled with entusiastic information that the pages is barely large enough to hold it all. It was written in 1974 when IBM mainframes ruled and computers was seen as cold and impersonal. Ted Nelson described, among other things, hypertext what is now known as "World Wide Web".
I own a first edition copy of this book, and I have also read a Swedish translation. Let me tell you, reading this book translated without the handwritten text is like watching a TV-show without a picture. The original with the handwritten text is like actually sitting and watching Ted Nelson speak. You can see how entusiastic he is about the future with computers.
A couple of days ago I checked the book with Amazon, and I hadn't realized before how valuable my copy was. Prices started at $150! No, it is not for sale... 30 years later I still enjoy browsing through this book. Why isn't any book like this created any more?

Visit the DigiBarn Computer Museum for some more info regarding this amazing book.


Zipster, my Hipster PDA

Finally, a perfect use for all those old Zip disks that I have laying around.

This is my new Zipster. A HipsterPDA clone made of an old Zip-disk case and custom made cards. Using a Zip-disk case has several benefits. It protects the cards, it will stand up on the desktop and since it is transparent you can read the topmost (most important) card when the case is closed.

The cards are of my own design, but I was inspired of Douglas Johnstons DIY GTD Planner and Scott Lawrence Hipster cards. The cards are color coded at the top to make it easier to find different types. Currently I have six different, but I have another 4 planned. I have a second Zipster case in my bag with spare cards. I am also considering having different Zipsters for Work, Home and Church.

If anyone else makes (or have made) a Zipster PDA, please send me a mail: zipster_at_mekkaniak_dot_nu

Posted by Hello

(Yes, that's my Pilot GEL-X pen that I reviewed earlier. I'm still using it)

Notebook vs Palm Usability

During a conversation yesterday with a consultant regarding a intranet project, he told me the basic definition of usability:
The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.
(ISO DIS 9241)
This made me wonder how these rules apply to a Palm PDA and a notebook like a Moleskine diary.

As a Palm user I can safely say that a Palm is effective at what it can do and it is definitely a satisfaction to own and use. But efficiency? Using a Palm, or any PIM software, means that you have to work within a preset system. If you want this system to work as an extension of your mind you'll have to tweak it. Studying the Yahoo Palm GTD group shows that you need quite a lot of software tools to do GTD on a Palm PDA. And as you add more tools and complexity goes up, effectivity and satisfaction goes down. Procrastination is waiting around the corner.

I think this is what make a notebook so attractive. You don't have to work within a preset system, you MAKE the system. The notebook becomes an extension of your mind, you can be as systematic and creative as you want. It is both efficient and effective, and if you use a Moleskine the satisfaction will double.


Steve Pavlina's missing part

I have followed the writings of Steve Pavlina, and his blog entries is always inspiring. But one entry has got me thinking, and I have to disagree with Steve P. The name of the blog is "The Essential Missing Half of Getting Things Done":

At that level I have a one-sentence statement of my life’s purpose plus a longer mission statement.
The next level down is goals. All of my goals are either need-based or purpose-based.
To put it very simply… standard GTD will teach you how to do things right. It’s extremely effective at that. But before you concern yourself with doing things right, you must first figure out what the right thing to do is.

The missing part is not at all missing, David Allen's is very clear on this point, you must organize all your day-to-day "stuff" before you can do more high-level planning.

Be careful. That's a very popular notion these days: If you focus on your values, then you'll improve the "balance" between your business and personal lives. Give me a break. Focusing on your values may provide you with meaning, but it won't simplify things. You'll just discover even more stuff that's important to you.
(Fast Company)

Get all those little things out of your head first, otherwise thinking about Mission Statements and Life Goals will only add to all the stuff you already have on your mind.

So, in my opinion Steve Pavlina is basicly right. We should all lift up our eyes take a bearing on were we intend to go in the long-term. But first make sure that you have your low-level stuff in order before doing this exercise.

Update (Feb 15 2005): Merlin Mann of 43Folders had a nice analogy: "Good read and an interesting perspective--but it seems a bit like spanking your lawn mower for its lax landscaping skills."


It's a notebook, not a blog

I'm not the only one who has reacted on Fred's Analog Blog. Paperpete has in his blog Peripathetic left this comment:

The connection is the key to a blog, allowing you to surf away from the blog using its links, and then to surf away from those links, using theirs. The possibility of a non–self–referential, chaotic surf. When you write, however creatively, in a notebook, what you have is — a notebook. Repeat: a notebook.
Not a blog. A notebook. Lots of paper? Writing? Hard covers? No USB port? Ah yes, that’ll be a notebook.

Some Moleskines hack is over the edge, and in a way assumes that the notebook user can't find his or hers hand even if it were in front of them. My personal favourite is the 'virtual quadrant' were you divide every pair of pages into quadrants. This would make it easier to find your notes as they would be "Pages 3, Quadrant C". Why can't you just scan the two pages with your eyes and find the information. I think that would even be quicker than writing down the reference itself.

You can never love your Moleskine... (Paperpete)


Behold! The shrine to the IKEA Jerker desk!

You can find anything and any type of interest on the Internet. But a fan site for a desk? Unfortunately it seems a bit dusty since several of the links are dead. Hmm, a Jerker you say... Maybe I'll have to rethink my IKEA Ivar setup...