Categories: organizer

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Shopping trip

| life, organizer

The bright red gash stretching across half my arm stings. Red is my
favorite color, but I could have done without this parting shot from
the broken clasp of my short-lived backpack. The backpack's mean
gesture is understandable; it's jealous of the nice new tote I just

And boy, did I look _everywhere_ for that tote. I coasted along Yonge
Street, which conveniently sloped downhill in the direction I was
going. I stopped at every major store I saw. Hudson Bay. Winners.
Eaton Centre. I checked out every shop that looked like it might have
a tote that was just the right size and style.

One of my shopping difficulties is that I have very specific ideas of
what I want. My ideal bag had to be:

  • large enough to hold a binder
  • small enough to not look overwhelming
  • divided into at least two compartments, with plus points for secure outer pockets
  • well under CAD 50.00

I found it for CAD 24.99. The orange trim feels a bit more casual than
I'd like, but I could pass it off as style and it works with my
wardrobe colors anyway.

My 2″ binder fits a little too snugly (I'd like to have a bit of
space), so I need to shift to a 1″ binder.

Everything else is just great. There's even a small pocket for the

Yay. I have a nice bag now. =)

I also picked up a bunch of organizing tools: stackable shelves, food
savers, laundry nets, shoe bags…

Happy girl.

Custom planner =)

| emacs, organizer, planning, productivity

I went to a shop specializing in pens and organizers, but I couldn't
find anything that matched what I had in mind. So I made my own
planner templates using Calc and Inkscape. I made
a week planner with plenty of space for action items and notes, a
month list I can use to keep track of things like meals or whatever,
and a booknotes template.

I'm going to test the templates over the next few days. If it works
for me, then I'll put the templates up on the Net. They're for
standard letter-size three-ring binders, so anyone can use them
easily. =)

I'm a happy girl.

Paper inbox planner

| emacs, organizer

The Paper Planner Inbox is a good post about
keeping an “inbox” section in your planner.

My index cards used to be my inbox as well as my semi-persistent
storage, but now I need something with a bit more order. I really like
my calendar, and if I can find a small six-ring planner with weekly
forms that also have day and week goals, I'd buy it in a jiffy. I'm
also interested in getting a six-ring puncher. Must find a large
stationery store…

Five lessons learned from last week

| emacs, organizer, research, writing
  • Research groups are good. The lively exchange of ideas will inspire
    and support me, and besides, group meetings often have food. It's
    worth postponing my individual interest in personal information
    management if I can't find other people who are working on the same
  • I'm good at networking and relating to people quickly. I'm still a
    little shy, but I'm starting to be good at remembering names and
    faces, and people here don't mind helping someone get settled in.
  • A personal organizer makes me feel more on top of things. If I can
    find a ring-bound paper organizer with the same structure as my
    current planner, I'll switch to it. I really appreciate having
    weekly and daily goals, and might prepare my own templates if I
    can't find an organizer that normally does that.
  • I can write 800 words easily once I get going. I prefer writing in
    one go instead of filling out an outline because the former feels
    more like writing e-mail to someone, and I can get pretty
    long-winded in e-mail.
  • My writing style seems to be matter-of-fact and conversational.
    Dominique thinks I've found my voice.

Forms, forms, forms…

Posted: - Modified: | organizer

I have to confess: I’m crazy about forms. When a post like a million monkeys typing: The Crossroads Form turns up in my RSS aggregator, I can’t help but print out a copy and give it a whirl.
I drool over the subtle shades of Douglas Johnston‘s templates and the clean curves of John Norris‘ work. I am Sacha Chua, and I am a forms addict.

I’m fascinated by the way people organize information. Forms and
diagrams are scaffolds for our ideas, giving structure and support.
They make information easy to understand months or even years
afterwards. Forms make it _fun_ to explore thoughts and share them
with others.

Even doodles on a napkin are enriched by a judiciously chosen diagram.
Clusters. Fishbones. Mindmaps. Names roll off my tongue like old
friends who’ve seen me through problems time and again. I even diagram
my way out of stuckness, pausing in the middle of a fit to sketch the
causes of my difficulties and finding ways to deal with them.

I want to learn how to design good forms. I want to learn about the
different designs people use and when each one is appropriate. I want
to listen to people’s information needs and pull just the right
template out of a vast library of forms, checklists and diagrams. I
want to design information.

Introducing the Hipster PDA

| organizer, planning, productivity

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. 3×5 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!

Office supplies shopaholic

Posted: - Modified: | organizer, productivity

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.)