Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ubiquitous capture device - UCD

I have been reading comments, articles on a great website, for a while, and wanted to comment on one of the greatest things I have taken from that site, something called a "hipster" personal assistant, I have discovered and some observations I have passed on.

I currently work as a retail manager for an office supply chain and it was simple to experiment with an "Ubiquitous capture device - UCD", basically any kind of tool used to capture ideas and thoughts down in a tangible form, outside your head. For alot of people this ends up being 3x5 index cards, secured with a binder clip or bull clamp, so they are not just loose in a pocket.

Things I have learned while using them for the past month...(your experiences may vary)

--colored cards are good only if in the heat of needing to write something down, you use them to separate ideas into very broad work and personal. Other than that have not found colored cards to be terribly useful. When I need to get an idea down, don't tend to worry too much about what color it is written on, just that I get it written down.

--I recommend either unlined or grid, reason - because we are creatures of order and will tend follow lines, if the line are there and going one way, you will tend to follow them, which can stifle creativity.

-- really don't like the binder clamp, as you take it off it is just a loose collection of cards, but it tends to get in the way when you take your stack of cards out and jot down a quick note...I have tried (as I have access to the equipment) to experiment with spiral binding, binder rings, hole punched with brass tabs as binding methods and have yet to find the magic one that works. This has frustrated me so much that I even went to a local home supply super store looking for binding methods. Why? I want a way that keeps a slip profile in my pocket (binder rings we carry are too big), easy to add, remove and rearrange cards (spiral and brass tabs too permanent or difficult to remove). I think that a binder ring would have worked if they had been smaller, currently the smallest we carry is 1 inch and that is simple too big. Plus not sure how they would hold up to constant opening and closing. Any suggestions please comment.

--the perfect pen, some note cards are coated, many times I am writing against a wall. Gel type pens tend to be messy and regular ink pens don't write at unusually angels. I am thinking of trying a space pen (the kind that are pressurized to work at all angles) but they are a tad expensive since I tend to loose pens, might just buy a refill and use it in another pen, or make my own pen body as a project.

--critical part of making this work for me is spending some time each day (approx. 15 minutes) consolidating notes (tend to write big and messy when in a hurry, and it is good to take the time to rewrite, neat, consolidate information to single cards). I also spend about an hour a week entering all my notes into TexNotes Pro, a great program for keeping, organizing notes, which a fully functional trial version is available (I am registered user) at . This gets the notes out of short term storage (my cards), into long term storage, my computer. (I also have a simple script that I run to copy files to a thumb drive, giving all my key data as close as the nearest computer as TexNotes Pro runs just fine from a USB thumb drive). I can easily organize my notes in a great tree view, move, rename as needed, plus search if I cannot remember where an idea or thought was put.

I highly recommend visiting the sites mentioned above. The basic concept is bouncing or has bounced around the net, and was inspired all or in part in the book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen, which I personally don't own but which is on my current to buy book list (maintained in TexNotes Pro).

Try it, have fun with it, let me know how it goes.


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