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BXCheck out : E-Mail from Richi's server (2005.05.09 productivity LifeHacks)
BXReply about hipster PDA : E-Mail from Christopher Allan Webber (2005.05.08)


16. 30-day challenges: Touch three times

After having successfully become an early riser, J Wynia has set a new challenge for the next 30 days: read 100 pages a day.

I don't have much of a print backlog because I read quickly and regularly, so I'll set myself a different challenge: to touch three people. I will initiate three messages a day.

It's too easy for me to fall into the habit of just reacting to whatever mail I get, writing only when I receive a note (and sometimes not even then). I want to change that. I want to proactively reach out.

I'm learning that I don't have to rush through my schoolwork or my research, and that the time I take to enjoy people's company will be worth far more in the end.

15. Lifehacking your groceries

One of the coolest things about having delicious:lifehacks in my inbox is turning up all the craziest lifehacking tips. Today's treasure is about lifehacking your groceries by using index cards to keep track of ingredients, simplifying a week of shopping and cooking. _And_ it comes with index card templates!

ここ数年、コンピューターは仕事に限らず広く利用されるようになりました。 Recently, the increasing diversity of computer use has extended far beyond the realms of the office.

14. How to fold a shirt

Clair passed me a link to that nifty tutorial on folding shirts. I wonder if the trick works with the long-sleeved blouses I like wearing. See, _that's_ why I post all of these personal stories online. People share useful tips and stories. =) Thanks, everyone!

It turns out I'm not the only one with laundry problems, too. Numerous people have written in with their own misadventures and tips. Here's what I've learned so far:

  • Don't mix colored shirts with white ones. (Yup, I knew that. Good thing I learned it from other people's mistakes...)
  • Use mesh bags for socks. (My mom will bring me a few.)
  • If you fold your laundry right after you take it out of the dryer, you don't really need to iron your clothes.

仕事場にコンピューターを設置した。 We have equipped our office with computers.

13. Introducing the Hipster PDA

by Sacha Chua

(Sneak preview of m-ph entry for tomorrow)

"I've found the perfect PDA," I gushed. My friends perked up. Knowing how much of a geek I am, anything I was that crazy about was bound to be interesting. They leaned over and watched as I reached into my bag and brought out...

Hipster PDA ... my Hipster PDA.


Introducing the Hipster PDA

One of the hottest topics in the productivity blogosphere right now is the Hipster PDA, a surprisingly effective low-tech way to organize your life. Grab a pack of 3"x5" index cards and a fold-back clip and you're set to go!

What's so cool about the Hipster PDA?

  • Gets rid of worries. You don't have to worry about running out of battery during a critical meeting. You can drop it and it will still work. Even if you dunk it in water, you'll still be able to recover your data.
  • Grows along with you. Don't be constrained by software or hardware limitations! You can easily experiment with different ways of planning, and you can expand your Hipster PDA's memory simply by buying another pack of index cards at your nearest bookstore.
  • Helps you stay focused. The Hipster PDA helps you stay focused and on-track by not supporting addictive games like Tradewinds. To help you pass the time, the Hipster PDA comes with a few built-in two-player games like Tic-tac-toe and Hangman.
  • Organizes real-life data. Receipts? Business cards? Movie tickets? No problem! Just tuck them into the fold-back clip and process them when you get home.
  • Beams anything to anyone. You can easily "beam" information to other people--just scribble a note and give it to them. 3x5 index cards don't crumple easily and can easily be shared with other people no matter what mobile device they use.

Here's what you can do with your own Hipster PDA:

  • Get a good pen or mechanical pencil. Keep it with your Hipster PDA at all times.
  • Write down one task per index card. You can write down subtasks and notes there as well. Rip up the task card up after completing the task for a satisfying finish.
  • Alternatively, divide your tasks into projects and write down your tasks. Check the tasks off as you finish them.
  • Scribble notes and ideas down on index cards.
  • Write down a month calendar so that you can easily see when you have appointments.
  • Print important contact information on an index card. You can probably fit 50 names and phone numbers. Good backup if your phone is out of battery or gets lost.
  • Print birthdays on an index card, sorted by month and day.
  • Label your Hipster PDA with your contact information just in case it gets lost. (name, phone number, e-mail address)
  • Clip a cheap pen to your Hipster PDA for people who borrow pens. Never lend your good pen.
  • Keep newly-written cards in an "inbox" section (front or back) so that you can process them when you get home.

For more information, check out the following links:
43 Folders: Introducing the Hipster PDA
Technorati: Hipster PDA

Check back on Wednesday for tips on making the most of your Hipster PDA!

そのデザイン・ハウスにとって、コンピュータ製造にさらに急進的な色彩を導入することは適切な戦略であった。 For this design house it was an appropriate strategy to introduce even more radical colors into computer production.

12. Office supplies shopaholic

My name is Sacha Chua and I'm an office supplies shopaholic. I find it nearly impossible to pass a bookstore without checking out the index cards and notebooks in stock.

Today I bought two small plastic cases.

[Plastic cases]

A good size for scrapbook material: photos, receipts, tickets... No more digging around in my bag for things to scrapbook!

(Hmm. Thinking about it now, I could have also survived with a Ziplock(tm) packet.)

Okay. Maybe I can store art materials in it. Or cards. Yeah, it's a good size for stationery. That's it.

(You know you have it bad when you think of reasons _after_ you buy the thing...)

On my way out of the school supplies stand, I found my fingers inexplicably rifling through the notebooks on display. I picked up a Stradmore notebook composed of eight thin notebooks held together with pins. Here's the side view:

Side view of notebook

A light bulb went off in my head. This is perfect for journal-writing! I can keep a journal along with my work notes (eliminating the need for a separate album) and then simply re-file them. If I use a mini-notebook for letters to Dominique, I can mail the whole mini-notebook to him when I'm done.

I had a hard time deciding between a small notebook that could fit in my purse and a medium-size notebook that gave me more room to write, but I eventually decided on the medium-size notebook.


Because it had "girl" written all over it.



Of course, _after_ I bought it, I reasoned that larger mini-notebooks would be more efficient to store and mail. (Right.)

家にはパソコンが5台あるが、内2台は役立っていない。 It is not useful though there are five personal computers in the house.

11. Task management with Emacs: Text files

With the wealth of code available for Emacs and the ease of customization it provides, you're certain to find a task management tool that fits the way you think. Over the next few days, I'll provide a quick run-through of the methods I've tried out.

The simplest way to get started with Emacs for task management is to keep your TODOs in a plain text file, like ~/TODO. You can keep this text file in any format you want. To make it easier for you to see what you need to do, you can keep active TODOs near the top and completed tasks near the bottom.

If you load your TODO file every time you start up Emacs, then you'll be sure to check it every day. Put the following line in your ~/.emacs to have it automatically loaded when you start:

(find-file "~/TODO")

You'll also want to make it easy to open during an Emacs session. If your TODO file is just a keyboard shortcut away, you'll find it easier to keep all of your reminders in the file. Here's a snippet that shows the TODO file in the current window.

(defun my/todo ()
 "Bring up the TODO file."
 (find-file "~/TODO")       
 (goto-char (point-min)))

;; Now bind it to a convenient shortcut key (global-set-key (kbd "<f5> <f5>") 'my/todo)

Now you can hit F5 F5 to show your TODO. If you want your TODO file to show up in another window, remove that and use this snippet instead:

(defun my/todo ()
 "Bring up the TODO file."
 (find-file-other-window "~/TODO")
 (goto-char (point-min)))

;; Now bind it to a convenient shortcut key (global-set-key (kbd "<f5> <f5>") 'my/todo)

If you want to be able to add stuff to your TODO without getting distracted from your work, add this to your ~/.emacs:

(defun my/add-todo (task)
 "Add a line to the TODO file."
 (interactive "MTask: ")
 (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect "~/TODO")
   (goto-char (point-min))
   (insert task "\n")
(global-set-key (kbd "<f5> t") 'my/add-todo)

See? Emacs is fun and easy to configure. You can store your tasks in a plain text file and then add keyboard shortcuts to make your tasks easier to manage.

There are many sophisticated task management packages for Emacs. I'll write about one of them tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want to find out what task manager I _really_ like using, you can check out PlannerMode! =)

何社製のコンピューターをお使いですか。 What make of computer do you use?

10. Colored index cards

I love posting my productivity ideas because every time I do so, I get comments suggesting even better ways to do things. Today's tip comes from Christopher Allan Webber, whose colored index cards are leaps and bounds ahead of my deck of plain white index cards. He has some cool ideas here!

He uses colored notecards to separate his notes into categories.

Yellowschedule & project cards
Redtodo cards (or just stuff I should copy to planner-mode)
Blueidea cards
Greenexpenses (writing down stuff to copy to my ledger file later)

He also uses cards that are lined on just one side. On the lined side of schedule & project cards, he writes down:


Wed5/11Critique of Assignment II & I (pics don't have to be dry - must by Wednesday)
Mon5/16Field trip
..Assignment #2 dry-mounted

On the back, he keeps a TODO list. When a task needs to be done multiple times--for example, preparing a print of a picture--he adds extra checkboxes before the task.

I think he writes down non-project-related TODOs and random notes on red cards, which are easy to pick out in the pack. Right now, I jumble them all together on white index cards. I'll try keeping the front half of the deck for tasks and the back half for notes.

Green cards help him keep track of his expenses. I keep receipts in front of my index cards using the handy fold-back clip, although an organized table view would be pretty cool.

I don't know where he managed to find lined-on-one-side 3x5 colored index cards. I guess bookstores in other countries are better stocked. On the other hand, I found 3x5 organizer refills, so I'm not absolutely deprived.

He was bemused by my mention of "two pages of month templates from a 3x5 day planner". If you crack open a pack of 3x5 organizer refills, you'll get year, month, and day views. Normally a single month would span two pages, but if you're using a planner where month views haven't been labeled "January", "February"--in short, blank ones--then you can use one page to represent one month. If you don't have organizer refills handy, simply print the numbers 1 to 15 down one side of an index card and 16 to 31 on the other. Leave space at the top for the month name, and space beside the numbers for appointments.

He also had this interesting anecdote to relate about a friend's way of planning.

"Oh, I gave up keeping track of to do lists," she sighed. "These days I just write everything on my mirror with a dry-erase marker, so when I groggily stumble into my bathroom in the morning I go, 'OH SHIT! I HAVE *THAT* TO DO TODAY!'"

I should do that with a random Japanese quote of the day. I'll write it down the day before, then groggily try to read it in the morning. Or I can scribble my Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (superb teaching and quality assurance for computer science education, and strategy coaching for life planning (must find better way to summarize these things!)) on my ceiling at home. Ooooh. My ceiling is low enough for me to do that...

Check out Christopher Allan Webber's website at . =)

I love swapping ideas with people, so feel free to send in more suggestions!

コンピューターは単なる計算機だと考えられている。 Computers are thought of as mere calculating machines.

9. Profiling Your Customer

People are often thrilled by the fact that I try to keep track of their interests and inclinations. I avidly file away tidbits I learn while listening to them talk, but I'm not yet used to asking people for more details or engaging in small talk. I'm starting to think that there's more to small talk than just passing time, though. I guess asking about all of these things makes good business sense.

Patrick G. of replied to my post on keeping in touch with people with this excellent tip:

re: your post on keeping track of people and their interests - did you ever hear of the "Mackay 66" ? A guy here in the US wrote a book about selling, and he requires his saleman to keep a "66" on each customer - 66 things you should know about them. See - at least 1 thru 57 is useful for friends too.

I wonder what other lists are out there...

彼はコンピュータに詳しい。 He is familiar with computer.

8. How I use my Hipster PDA

After all my experiments with wearable computing using a one-handed chording keyboard and a speech synthesizer, I've found that the most portable device for me is still a 3x5 pack of index cards bound with a fold-back clip. Jokingly dubbed the "Hipster PDA" elsewhere on the Net, this low-tech device is surprisingly flexible and easy to use. I use mine to keep track of tasks and random notes for later entry into my online planner.

My Hipster PDA is composed of:

  • a colored index card with my contact information
  • my inbox: cards with notes on them that haven't been entered into the computer
  • two pages of month templates from a 3x5 day planner
  • a year calendar for 2005 and 2006
  • my archive: index cards that have already been entered but might still be useful
  • a colored index card with yellow sticky notes
  • a stack of blank index cards
  • a fold-back clip holding all of these things together
  • a black signpen or a mechanical pencil tucked into the fold-back clip

One of the things I've found much easier to do with my 3x5 pack of cards than with a PDA or a Franklin-Covey planner is to keep track of get-togethers. When my friends and I schedule our next get-together, I lay the month templates out so that I can see the next 30 days at a glance. This is difficult to do with a PDA because PDA screens are small. A Franklin-Covey planner would probably be more organized, but I like being able to lay things out side-by-side instead of flipping through pages.

When I need to jot something down, I flip the deck and write on the last card. After I finish one side of the card, I turn it over, clip it, and write on the other side. When the whole card is full, I move it into my inbox.

Index cards are handy because it's easy to give information away to other people. Paper gets crumpled and business cards can disappear into the chaos of a purse or a bag. An index card is big and bright. I'm thinking of replacing half of my white cards with brightly-colored cards so that people can easily find information I give them.

I'm planning to do other things with my pack of 3x5 index cards. For example, I can write my projects on the cards. Reviewing these cards will reinforce these goals in my mind and remind me to keep making progress.

Index cards totally rock.

新しいコンピューターは旧型よりも10倍速い。 The new computer is ten times as fast as the old one.

7. Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

My Big, Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) are:

  • Revolutionize computer science education by making it highly individualized and experiential.
  • Become a world-famous expert on creating systems for planning one's life. Instead of pushing a particular methodology, I'd like to work with people's current ways of planning, suggesting improvements and software/hardware to support their life.

I'm at the 1st Philippine Blogging Summit right now with my BHAGs firmly in mind. It's _amazing._

The first person I talked to was J. Angelo Racoma, an old friend from my BBSing days. After chatting about blogging, talk turned to what we're both up to. He told me about his work at . I told him about my BHAGs.

It turned out that his wife is into tutoring, and one of the things they're planning to do in the future is set up a tutoring portal to help students, parents and tutors find each other. Neato. That looks like a great fit for what I want to do. =)

As I explained my BHAG for teaching and training to him, I realized that one of the things I really, really, really care about is quality assurance for teachers and tutors. I firmly believe that it's not just about technical knowledge, but it's also about teaching and communication skills. I don't think we're paying enough attention to that, and I think that's a compelling sales point.

I also got to meet Gabriel Narciso. He started by asking me if I was still into open source. Of course! He then asked me if there was a native version of for Mac OS X. I remember used to support the Mac, so I should be able to find one. =) Good deed! I told _him_ about my BHAGs too. It turned out that he used to work at Franklin-Covey (as in, _the_ Franklin Covey franchise in the Philippines!), and is now into executive coaching.


Let's say that again. Wow!

_That's_ why you should practice talking about your BHAGs until you can squeeze it into a small-talk conversation. Joey Gurango told us how wannabe entrepreneurs would give him two-inch-thick business proposals and expect him to have the time or interest in reading them. He said that's entirely the wrong way to do that. You start with your 90-second elevator pitch. You get people interested. Then you go for your executive summary--the shorter, the better. You get people hooked. When you get them hooked, _then_ you hit them with the business proposal.

BHAGs work the same way. Refine them until you get a sound bite. Say it with confidence and passion. Get them hooked. Explain the rest over lunch another day!

コンピューターが使えたらもっとお金をもらえるかもしれないのに。 They might pay me more if I could use a computer.

6. Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

"Big, Hairy Audacious Goals" is a catchy and inspiring way to think about things. If you don't have this book yet, you might want to look for it next time you're in a well-stocked bookstore:

Built to Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Jerry Porras and James C. Collins, 1994.

Here are some links for more information: Room/Built_To_Last.htm
Book review / executive summary

Big Hairy and Audacious Goals for Business! (interview)

"We found that visionary companies often set these incredibly challenging goals."

Goal Setting with Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)
A workshop outline--great idea for training

My BHAGs are:

  • Revolutionize computer science education by making it highly individualized and experiential.
  • Become a world-famous expert on creating systems for planning one's life. Instead of pushing a particular methodology, I'd like to work with people's current ways of planning, suggesting improvements and software/hardware to support their life.

What are yours?

昨日は、私のコンピューターが故障していたのです。 My computer was down yesterday.

5. Hipster PDA: Month view

Being able to quickly see my schedule for two months totally, totally rocks. My iPAQ didn't have the screenspace for something like that, but my 3x5" pack of index cards with some inserts from an organizer. In particular, aforementioned monthly templates make planning get-togethers so much easier. I can print index cards for these too, but then it'd be a hassle to design the template and print it back-to-back. Anyway, this totally rocks.

(I also had another epiphany earlier: we're actually planning gimmicks! We have a social life! We have a barkada! Nifty. Now I just need to make sure I keep in touch with other people I know, too...)

問題はどうして難局に当たるかである。 The question is how we will bell the cat.

4. Sticky notes hack

43 folders is collecting neat Post-it hacks. I love using Post-it notes to organize my articles and presentations, writing down keywords on individual notes and rearranging them until they make sense. I like using thin strips for keywords and larger notes for storyboards. I like being able to see everything at a glance and rearrange things without having to navigate using a keyboard or a mouse. Post-it notes are a great way to put together impromptu presentations, too. Just stick them onto the back of a folder and peel them off as you discuss the points; that way, you don't forget to discuss anything. Great stuff! I should add a pack to my Geek Survival Kit (a pack of 3x5 index cards and a black gel pen).

鬼いぬ間の洗濯。 When the cat's away, the mice will play.

1. Lifehacks: Doing my mail on the train

If I leave work right after the clock chimes at 5:30, I almost always manage to get a seat on the train going home. This means I can do my mail and a little bit of blogging besides. I aim to answer all of my personal mail and acknowledge all other mail needing my action on the day I receive them.

The train I transfer to is crowded, though, and I don't have my one-handed keyboard set up yet. (Need to recompile my kernel.) During then, I loop over my Japanese review materials. Headset + laptop is an excellent combination!

2. Lifehacks: talking versus writing

I spend two hours every day talking to my mom and Dominique over . I've come to look forward to these daily conversations. When I stayed at Ayase Kokusai Hotel, I went to a cybercafe just to keep in touch. Voice chats provide an immediacy far beyond instant messaging or e-mail. My blog entries have become fewer and fewer because I've already told my stories to the people who ask me for personal updates the most. If I write before I talk to them, the half-conversation is unnerving. These conversations end late at night, and I have no time to write afterwards.

However, talking has its disadvantages. I don't have to think about what happened. I just have to relate it. I can stutter. I can ramble. I can say things of no real lasting value. I can be lazy.

Writing requires more effort. I have to structure my thoughts. I have to figure out what useful tidbit I can extract from events so that my blog isn't just some self-centered personal journal that makes everyone feel a bit like a voyeur. Writing is slow, and the extra time forces me to think about what I'm writing, perhaps gaining more insights.

Conversation seems to be personality-centered. I can get away with unpolished thoughts and trivial stories because the point of conversation is conversing. On the other hand, writing--at least in my point of view--is more idea-centered. When I write, I have to make sense not only to people who are already interested in my life, but also people who read this entry as part of something else, like the RSS aggregator at . When I write, I have to make sense most of the time.

As much as I enjoy talking to Mom and Dominique, then, I think it's better if I refocus on the written word.

What will happen if I do so? My mother will probably write me letters, but I think my father is more comfortable with the immediacy of voice chat. I like hearing my dad's stories. They're the kind that should be told as soon as possible. E-mail creates distance, and probably won't do the stories justice.

People might also interpret this as me trying to distance myself from them. It really isn't. I think of this as creating knowledge, something that will reach more people, something I can reflect on later.

I write to find out how the words on my screen differ from the words in my head. I write to discover questions and answers. Journal entries give my day structure and keep me moving forward.

3. LifeHacks: Instant messaging

Along those lines, I will not respond to "Hi", "Good evening", or similar messages over instant messaging. If you have a story to tell, just tell it without any preamble or small talk. That way, I don't have to pretend I'm paying attention, and you won't get offended if I disappear in the middle of a conversation.

Previous day | Next day

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Updated: 2005-09-01
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