Category: My Organizer

Organizer Nine-Month Checkup

I’ve been doing several admin-type things the past few days. Today, I tackled my calendar, modifying Dave Seah’s Compact Calendar 2008 into a two-column half-sheet layout, printing out another year’s worth of monthly calendar sheets and making two-week spreads up to May 31, 2008, then removing older calendar sheets from my organizer and archiving them in a file. I was shocked at how the time has flown!

My planner looks much the same as it did six months ago, except for the additional section for my project lists and project detail sheets. I still love the flexibility of the Circa system and have a strong presentiment that I’ll be keeping to this system for a while! My two-week spreads and daily task/tracker sheets still work very well for me, although I’ve generally stopped using the tracker side of the sheet except for those days when I need some extra motivation to complete my routines. It’s nice to feel that I’ve found a system that finally works for me — at least in this season of my life.

I know that a few others have experimented with new organizers and systems this year, @Stephen, Penguin Girl, and Kate, for example. As the year comes to a close, have you found your organizer working for you? What changes will you make for 2008?

Two exciting new arrivals

First: Custom Shadow Box business cards, previously mentioned, but here’s the photo. I miscalculated and put the photos on the non-glossy side of the paper, so for the next printing I’ll reverse the card so that the photos end up on the glossy side.

Custom Shadow Box business cards

Second: My sister gave me a belated birthday present — a Circa PDA! She also had stacks of colored cards for herself and gave me ten of each color. Thanks, Angela!

The small size of the Circa PDA has me pulling it out instead of squeezing out my junior-size planner out of my purse for random braindumping while on the road, although I still use my planner almost exclusively while I’m at home. I haven’t really pulled together a “system” yet to combine both but will just see what I naturally use the PDA for.

If you use both a notebook and a PDA and have a system, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Circa PDA

Freelancer’s Motivational Tool: Week Tracking Sheet v1

I have been suffering from the worst case of unmotivation that I’ve ever had in my life. I would really like to just read ALL DAY and not do anything else until Steve comes home. (Okay, maybe I’ll take a few sips of blackberry limeade every now and then.) My friends look at me oddly when I mention how lazy I’ve been feeling because they know me as the unstoppable super-productive person who types really fast, reads 50 books a week (slight exaggeration), works full-time, volunteers, and wrote a book on top of it all. Steve looks at me oddly when I suggest overextending our “fun” budget category to go eat out again because I don’t feel like cooking because I usually love to cook. I’m generally not feeling like myself.

I’m even too lazy to try to analyze why I’m unmotivated, which would probably be the first step to solving this particular problem.

Oh, my work is still getting done — and being done well, if I do say so myself. But let’s just say that the things I don’t have to do (including building out the HTML/CSS for my personal web site) aren’t getting done, and I’m wasting a lot of time gearing myself up to do the things I have to do.

“Do something for five minutes and the momentum will carry you through.” “Make it into a game.” “Set a timer.” “Use Dave Seah’s cool motivational forms to blast through projects.” The usual motivational tricks aren’t working for me. I really do think analyzing why I’m unmotivated should be the first step for real change. But since the thought of analyzing myself makes me tired, I’ve decided to try another form of motivational trickery on myself: Make a cool new form for myself. Better yet, make a form that addresses the main issue of why I need to be working — to earn money!

So — I give you my uncreatively named Week Tracking Sheet v1. Here is an example of it in use with made-up numbers (so you can’t know how poor — or rich — I am… bwa ha ha!):

Week Tracking Sheet example

As a freelance worker, the money I make is split across multiple projects and tracked across multiple Excel spreadsheets. This printable form allows me to consolidate the financial information; after I complete a task, I log how much money I just “made” into a column. At the end of the day, I total it up. At the end of the week, I can look at a grand total to see how I’m doing.

I tried to think of other uses for this form but couldn’t think of any. It would have to be something that you do and could log intermittently throughout the day, I think, with a hard numerical value (time, money, pages?) that you can add up at the end. Maybe for time spent studying? If you have any other creative ideas for how to use this, please share!

And if you’re curious — this did motivate me a little bit more yesterday when I used it. I’ll try to remember to share how I’m doing in the area of motivation during my week update(s).

Download

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

How to use it with a Junior Rolla/Circa notebook

Week Tracking Sheet printout

Print out on 8.5×11″ paper. Trim off right side .25″. Cut in half (at 5.5″ mark). Punch the top part of the form.

GTD Project List Form v2

I [finally!] revised my Project List Form by swapping the positions of the checkbox and code box. This makes it easier to scan the project titles (which I write starting from the left side in English) and easily see which projects have been completed.

GTD Project List Form v2

Download

  • Project List Form v2project-list-v2.pdf
    The PDF is editable in Illustrator, if you’re the kind of person that likes to customize things.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

See my original post for usage notes. I’m leaving the original download up for people who liked the checkboxes on the right.

GTD Project Detail Form v1

This comes after my GTD Project List Form v1 post. Take a look if you need some background on the concept of Projects within Getting Things Done and want to see the “parent” or “companion” form that goes along with this one.

Concept

I mentioned before that I had also created a Getting Things Done-inspired Project Detail Form, and here it is:

Project Detail Form v1

This fold-out page is formatted to print on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. I Circa-punch the left side and trim the bottom quarter inch off so it lines up with the other pages in my Circa/Rolla organizer. The aqua line isn’t printed — I’ve added it to the screenshot so you can see where I fold the page back.

The left side holds basic project information. In the diagram below…

Project Detail Form - left side detail sample

  • Big area for the project name.
  • A small area for the project code, which matches up with the project code I assign on the Project List form.
  • A big box to write the desired outcome and wildest dream, to help you focus on what you want this project to accomplish.
  • There are then several lines for brainstorming action items.

The right fold-out panel is a basic grid layout (1/4″ grid markings), perfect for notes, brainstorming, etc. I’ve already found this helpful for jotting down phone numbers and car service quotes for my “replace clutch” project. It’s also a nice place to write things down and brainstorm when I’m on-the-go and only have my planner with me.

Project Detail Form - right side detail sample

So how does this fit in with GTD? David Allen doesn’t talk about a “project detail sheet” in the book, but he does talk about “project support materials” that should be filed away for easy reference (either digitally, in an email folder or document folder, or physically, in a file folder or other storage unit) that are pulled out when you are working on the project. I think of this project detail sheet as a mini portable project file that I can always have with me in my planner to jot down notes, list the next few actions I think I need to take, and refer to quickly and easily. It’s not for everyone, but I think it will work for me.

I’ve deliberately stressed the brainstorming aspect of this page. As a list-maker type of person, I often get caught up into trying, first of all, to have a “complete” list, and second of all, to completely check off everything on the list. However, for some projects it’s not practical or feasible to create a complete list. This page gives me the freedom to make an incomplete list — to just look a few steps ahead, dream, brainstorm, even — gasp — write the action items out of order. I can quickly grab the Next Action and put it into my “real” to-do list (using Remember the Milk for now), without being afraid that I’ll forget an important step down the road because I already have it captured on this page.

Finally — I’m planning a follow-up post that demonstrates my current workflow using these different forms, and will have more concrete examples on how I use this specific project detail form in that post. Update: Here it is.

Download

  • Project Detail Form v1project-detail.pdf
    The PDF is editable in Illustrator, if you’re the kind of person that likes to customize things.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Usage notes

  • Print landscape on 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
  • Can punch the left side. (This was specifically formatted for a Circa/Rolla notebook but may work for other formats.)
  • Trim the bottom 1/4″ off if you want it to match the Circa/Rolla Junior size paper.
  • Fold the grid back so that it doesn’t overlap the hole punches.
  • I file mine in order by project number so that I can quickly reference them from the Project List sheet.

Feedback

If you have any feedback about my GTD forms, I’d love to hear it! Please leave a comment below.

GTD Project List Form v1

In my previous post about Getting Things Done, I mentioned that I had created forms for keeping track of my projects. As promised, here is my first post about one of my forms — a Project List Form.

Project Concept

A little bit of GTD theory: David Allen defines anything that will take more than one or two steps as a “project.” So a Project could be an actual work project (“Health Spa Web Site”) or a personal project (“Make a quilt”), but it could also be something like “Get clutch fixed on car” because you have to 1) call your friend for a mechanic reference, 2) call the mechanic, and 3) bring the car in.

Allen advises that you have some sort of project master list that you review weekly, to remind you of all the unresolved stuff that you have going on.

Each project might also have support material, which would be the various reference items (such as the mechanic’s business card, or quilt pattern ideas) that you would need to use when working on the project. These materials should be filed away neatly somewhere so that you can pull them out as you are able to work on them.

The Project List Form v1

I designed a very basic project list form, perfect for my Circa/Rolla organizer.

Getting Things Done Project List form

  • Three color choices for the header: The headers are color coded similar to my Compact Project Task Cards. I use yellow for personal projects, blue for PixelMill projects, and pink for freelance projects.
  • 20 lines for listing projects.
  • Each line has a box on the left to allow you to notate a project code. The project code can be referenced on the project detail sheet (another blog on this later), your personal files, or on the Compact Project Task Card.
  • A juicy fat checkbox on the right. (I may revise this to be on the left — I think it’s more natural to scan down the list for incomplete projects if the checkbox is closer to the actual project title.)

Download

  • Project List Form v1project-list.pdf
    The PDF is editable in Illustrator, if you’re the kind of person that likes to customize things.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Usage example and notes

GTD Project List sample use

  • Each color is on its own page, so there are three pages. You can print out only one page if you want a single color. You can print your own double-sided sheets, but the forms are not designed to line up when double-sided.
  • I’ve been using numbers for project detail sheet codes and letters for mini-projects that fit on one of my Compact Project Task Cards.

Okay — so now I owe another blog post about my project detail form. Stay tuned!

Update 6/15: Go to the next part: GTD Project Detail Form v1 is up!

Compact Grocery Shopping List

One of my weekend projects was to revise my Efficient Grocery Shopping List and make it fit a half-sheet of paper so that I could put it into my organizer. I also wanted to somehow incorporate a different grocery store list for the local food co-op, which I’ve started going to more often to purchase a larger variety of organic and locally-grown/produced foods.

The result — a two-sided compact grocery shopping list, created in Excel.

Click for larger view.
Grocery list screenshot

By printing the spreadsheet on both sides of a sheet of paper, I can cut the paper in half and have a two-sided grocery list; one side for my local Safeway, the other side for the food co-op. When planning my weekly grocery shopping list (or biweekly, as the case may be), I can fill out the items that I need from both stores and only bring one list around town.

The half-sheet size means that I can Circa-punch the sheet and put it into my organizer. The page has space at the bottom of the half-sheet, which I can use to sketch out the week’s menu (I used to do this in the wide right margin of the original sheet).

I’ve updated my original Excel spreadsheet to include both the original full-size spreadsheet as well as a second spreadsheet for the two-sided/two-store version. You are more than welcome to download the spreadsheet and tweak it for your own use.

Download:

  • Compact Efficient Grocery List PDFgroceries-half.pdf
  • Efficient Grocery List and Compact Grocery List Excel Workbook v2groceries.xls
    Two spreadsheets in the same workbook – one with the original full-size one-store spreadsheet, one for the half-sheet two-side printout.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Notes:

  • When printing, be sure to check the “fit to page” option so the spreadsheet compresses to a one-page printout.
  • Print out a few copies of the half-sheet, then return the paper to the printer to print more on the other side of the paper. Cut the paper in half — if you’ve printed it right, you should end up with a two-sided half-sheet.

Compact Project Task Cards v1

Compact project task cards

New addition to My Organizer: Compact Project Task Cards. (Download available!)

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping track of my various “projects I’m working on” in the extra margin space of my weekly planner sheets (in the photo above, it’s the space between the day-boxes and the binder rings, under the cards). However, I found myself copying over unfinished projects from week to week. This got annoying.

I thought about Getting Things Done and began to see the wisdom of having a master “project list,” which was essentially what my week-to-week list was. So, I tried using a paper “bookmark” (about the width of the margin) as a project list-keeper. That worked okay, but I found myself having to look up other pieces of paper, emails, and online to-do lists related to each project.

This is about when I started scheming a cooler way to keep track of my projects AND some of the critical to-do’s for each project. Read on to learn about my process and to download/print the form!
Continue reading “Compact Project Task Cards v1”