Indexcard GTD System

Hawk's indexcard systemIf you are a Getting Things Done fanatic, you might already use index cards as a way of keeping track of stuff. But, if you haven’t seen this japanese guy’s system you haven’t seen anything yet.

Hawk Sugano makes me want to cry. His discipline and ability to simplify is beautiful. I literally spent an hour and a half reading each and every page on his site.

Now, please understand, I love the digital world. I love simplicity. I don’t mind if simplicity == analog. But, I also love finding ways of building simple digital systems too. So, even though I agree with Hawk regarding some of his posts about memory enhancements through writing vs. memory degradation through computer use, I think there’s a possible system that could be in play which would combine the two very nicely. One reason I bring this up is because of a big problem with analog systems. You can’t search for stuff quickly. Hawk’s system (along with many others) rely on chronological order for the ability to find things. Although that may work for some people, I don’t remember yesterday from last year. I do, however, remember words. I visualize words. I don’t have a photographic memory, but I’m used to searching for things by words, not by date. Damn Google.

Think of this solution, though. Hawk mentions the reverse chronological order being important because of the frequency of use. I agree with him that we should not reorder things just because of this frequency. However, even he says it resembles a blog.

Step 1: use a blog

Now, we have a few other problems. One being the other categories we need to separate things. I like Hawk’s categories, so let’s stick with them and make them categories in our blog. One rule could be implemented though. We should only post into one category. I like the simplicity. I don’t have a reason why you shouldn’t post in more than one, but if you’ve got something like that, just make two posts. It will help flesh out each item separately. So, Hawks categories are:

  • Records. “Diary, note, account, health, weather, cooking recipe” are his examples.
  • Discovery. “Things from your brain, mind, spirit, everything emerge from inside you…. Your discovery, finding, understanding, cognition, detection, good idea in your life and work.”
  • GTD (Getting Things Done). This is basically a to-do item with the date you made it for yourself, perhaps a 1, 2, 5, 10 rating for its importance, and a space for the completion date (with a checkbox of course). This one will be problematic in a blog, but I bet a WordPress plugin could probably handle it just fine.
  • Reference. “Quotation from book, web, tv, anything about someone else’s idea…. What is important is dividing ‘your idea (Discovery)’ and “someone else’s idea (Reference)’. Source of the information must be recorded. A book, for example, author, year, page(s) are recorded.”

Step 2: create/use a plugin for a to-do list, converted into a blog post

Now, there’s one last part which is the difficult one. One of the most efficient and best ways I’ve captured ideas are by sketching them on paper. I don’t think there’s a digital solution to this yet (nope, not even the tablet PC). Ideas can sometimes best be described in a sketch.

Now, there may be varying ideas for a solution to this. Mine is relatively simple and common. The cell phone camera.

I don’t think we need to stop drawing sketches and diagrams on coffee house napkins. But, we have the ability to capture those diagram, upload them to flickr or wherever (I used to upload them directly to my blog post along with the tags and description), and use them inside your post. It’s now right inside the post, just like the rest of the text. This might sound difficult to do, but trust me, from an engineering perspective it’s quite easy. If you don’t have any room to add text, fine. Just send the photo and send a second SMS or email right after it explaining it. When you get back to your blog, you can easily merge the two together. Other non-customized solutions exist, like moblogging, etc right now.

So, Step 3: draw your diagrams and sketches. Take a photo of them with your cell phone camera. Send them to a private email address along with (or following) an SMS/email of your idea.

Anyone want to start a new business with me?

[tags]gtd, index, card, Hawk Sugano, hawk, lifehack, web2.0, entrepreneurship, business idea, business, project, wordpress, plugin[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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