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Hey, dilettantiquity, wanna come and brainstorm with me? I'm having fun trying to design my own hPDA system! (Of course, everyone else is welcome to brainstorm, too, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, read on)!

I've already posted about my decision to give FlyLady another try (and so far it's going well. My sink will be shiny before I go to bed tonight, and my refrigerator (the outside anyway :D) is spotless. I've already got tomorrow covered - we're supposed to go through and get rid of wonky tupperware containers (stuff without lids, or pieces that are melted or mangled). I don't really have any tupperware here, so that's easy enough. I'll probably try and organize my pots and pans cabinet, though. Plus, Connor put away all his legos before he went to bed tonight, so the living room is actually habitable.

I've also started on my Control Journal, and here's where it's getting interesting. A while ago, dilettantiquity posted about Lifehacking, and I was interested right away. It's taken me a bit of time to get myself motivated to find out more; today, I started doing just that. Basically, it's all about finding systems for time management, information management, schedules, etc. that work FOR YOU. It's not about following someone else's system, because no two people have the exact same needs. This really resonates with me, since I've tried a few different systems, but haven't been able to stick with one. Franklin is the one I liked best (I was using it before Covey became involved; I'm sure I'll incorporate things from that system in whatever I create for myself). I also love the idea of coming up with my own system, something that I'm making myself, the idea being that I'll be more attached to it, and more likely to actually use it, instead of neglecting it.

So . . . here are my ideas so far:

I've started using Google Calendar, or gCal*, and so far I really like it. It will be extra great when Kevin gets set up with an account, and we can share a calendar - so I'll know which nights he has business dinners, and he'll know which nights I have things to do, or when he needs to take Connor to art class on a Saturday because I have a class of my own that day, etc. I like having my calendar on the computer; that is easy for me in terms of inputting data, plus it pops up reminders for me if I ask for them. Trouble is, I can't exactly carry that with me, can I? And I hate the idea of entering all my data twice - once in the computer, and once into a paper calendar. Once upon a time, I could have used my Treo for this (I'm pretty sure it's possible to sync the information from one to the other) but I loaned it to Kevin when he moved out here, and he kinda never gave it back. :D

SO . . . I've come up with an idea to try. I got the idea from Pocket Mod, which allows you to print out tiny, somewhat customized planners. I just needed a calendar, though, that already has my gCal data, so I figured out how to print up four months-worth on one 8 1/2 x 11 page, in a way that I could fold it into a little book. It took a bit of time to figure out how to format things the first time, but I wrote it all down, so next time I need to print one, I should be able to do it quickly:

gCal calendar page

Here's how it looks folded:

Calendar, folded

Now, I can carry this with me, so I can check to see when I'm free for things, and also keep track of appointments I make while I'm out and about. It does mean that I'll need to enter data I write here into gCal (but I'd have had to do that at some point anyway). And when this page gets full, or unreadable for any reason, I'll just print out a new one.

The happy thing about this size is that it fits perfectly into the little book that I'm planning to turn into my first (modified) Hipster PDA. While I like the idea of index cards, a couple of weeks ago I bought this gorgeous leather book, and I really want to use it. So, I'm going to adapt the Moleskine hack and give it a try:

Soon-to-be hPDA

This book, btw, has a refillable journal inside, so I'll be able to replace it when I've filled up the original book. OR I can just make my own. OMG THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER. I want to make one NOW. Just think - I could include my own customized pages - to-do lists with check boxes, pre-printed contact information for friends and family, anything at all, really. Yes, it looks like a bit of a project, but I've tackled crafty things of this scale before. Sounds like a good project to try with Connor. He would dig making his own book! In any case, I like the idea of keeping track of projects and my running "to do" list in a low-tech book; somehow, I've never liked online "to do" lists. (Although I think I'll try to use Remember the Milk for lists that I want to share with Kevin; we can both build shopping lists online, so whomever goes to the store has a handy list right there).

Question, dilettantiquity: have you read David Allen's book? If so, what did you think? I've got it on order from Amazon, and I'm feeling like I don't want to get too carried away until I've at least read through his system. And yet, I'm excited about this and I want to start NOW. :D

Oh . . . but we're not done yet. At the start, I mentioned my Control Journal, and this is the other thing I want to incorporate. I think it will be handy for me to have my Evening, Morning, Afternoon, and each weekday routines incorporated into this system. I sure don't want two journals. I'm thinking that I'll put these at the *end* of my book, so that they're never behind the "processed" tag. Then I can check those pages first, at the appropriate time of day, and hopefully stay on track with the things I want to do.

Let's see. I think that's all the ideas I have for right now. Right now, I'm trying not to get carried away. Baby steps are good. Of course, it doesn't hurt to try things; if they don't work, I just make adjustments down the road. This is fun. And, ultimately, this will help me be more productive. There are so many things I want to do, and at this time in my life, I have the time to do a great many of them; I just need to be more efficient with the way I plan my days. (Well, okay, so it's more accurate to say, "I just need to start planning my days, period).

I'd love to hear thoughts from any of you, whether you've done similar things before or not. If an idea has popped into your head, share it here! :)

*I'm not sure what will happen when you click on that link; It takes me to my calendar, but I think you'll just go to the home page unless you already have a calendar of your own set up there. If it doesn't work at all, sorry!


Sep. 11th, 2007 12:35 pm (UTC)
Habit Tracking - This is helping with my War on Perfectionism! I printed out the chart on Productivity501 and stuck it on my fridge and wrote down all the things on it that I was avoidant about; things that I would have liked to do regularly, but I somehow always slipped back into old habits when I tried. (Eat breakfast, go to the gym, meditate, 15 minutes decluttering, call my mum, shine my sink, clear my Inbox...) And you know what? This is really working for me. My goal each day is to tick four of the boxes on my list - any four. Doesn't matter if the rest don't get done; this list is not to force me to do unrealistic amounts of things, it's just to let me see how things are tracking on a bigger scale. And I LOVE ticking the boxes, so I often do more than my four and feel good about myself when I check them off at night. I'm told it takes around a month to establish a new habit, and I find this list is a nice way of monitoring the effort I've put into forming the habits I'd really love to have. (I haven't skipped breakfast for two months - the longest duration in my whole life, and I've been to the gym three times a week for the past month!)

Thinking About Blocks - I'm starting to be more analytical about WHY things sometimes don't work. If I really don't want to do something, I take a quiet moment to ask myself why. If mess continually aggregates in one places, I do the same. And, if I consistently slip backwards and am not able to establish a specific habit, the same. Turns out that my brain is FULL of ideas on how to make things better, if I just ask it! Apparently, the reason I wasn't using my habit list was because I didn't keep a pen near the fridge and was put off by having to go look for them. And I didn't do my laundry because I hated sorting it, so the brain and I went on a shopping excursion and bought three baskets so I could pre-sort as I undressed. If things don't work, the brain and I try not to blame ME for it anymore, and come up with clever ways to make them work better instead.

Timing - This is somewhat of a GTD thing- if I see something that needs to be done and takes less than 2 minutes to do, I try to do it now, instead of going 'oh, I'll need to do that later'. This has been a difficult habit for me to form, but when I really, really am resisting doing whatever the thing is, I've taken to counting the seconds taken to complete it in my head. Did you know it only takes twenty five seconds to sweep some soil the cats have dug up back into the flower bed, and fill the kitty water bowl in the courtyard? I had no idea it was so small a job until I counted! Why on earth was I always putting it off?

Walls - Some things are just really hard for me. Establishing an early bedtime, for a career night owl? Hard. Decluttering spaces where I was emotionally attached to a lot of the objects? Really hard. I've been hitting walls on things like this, and also more general walls where I don't WANT to tidy up after myself or clean my sink because I'm having a bad day. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, I've been trying to have a gentle talk with myself about the nature of the wall and what babysteps and Next Actions I can take to make some measure of progress. More with the helping inner voice and less with the critical one!

Technicalities Count - Even if I meditated for just five minutes and my mind was distracted, I get a tick on my chart for meditation. If fifteen minutes of decluttering consisted of ten minutes of angsting about a particular object before making a decision, I get a tick for decluttering. If I wiped my sink down but didn't polish it or dry it, I get a tick for having a shiny sink. This is part of breaking through walls and blocks, and also massive part of my War on Perfectionism. The front page of my Control Journal adapts one of FlyLady's sayings and reads "Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family, and this includes your kitty family." :) When I get home tonight, I'll add "technicalities count!" to that page too!
Sep. 11th, 2007 01:29 pm (UTC)
The Habit Tracking chart looks FANTASTIC! I love the idea of that (and matching it with "technicalities count" - that's long been an issue of mine. Well, I didn't finish, so it doesn't count AT ALL. One of the things I like about Chore Wars is that you can claim partial experience points. So, even if I don't finish something, I can still give myself a pat on the back for doing part of it). I am totally going to give this a try. I'm like you, I ADORE ticking off check boxes. When I used to use the Franklin system (which is very task and priority oriented), I would often write on my lists things I'd already done, just so I could feel good about checking them off. :D

I'm still trying to get a good picture of what my blocks are, so right now, I don't think I'm ready to start looking for solutions for most of them yet; I don't understand enough about why my home is like this. Except for a vague sense that it is tied up with my self-esteem (it's a way I show disrespect for myself) - oh, and the fact that I live with a very messy eight-year-old. (Although he's starting to join in; he loves claiming points for Chore Wars, and with some reminding he's starting to put away his toys before bed, and put his own dirty dishes in the dishwasher). We all need to build new habits. So, I want to go slowly, so I can keep having "wins" (like looking at my kitchen now and seeing the shiny sink, instead of focusing on the five loads of laundry that need to be put away in the bedroom; at least the clothes are clean, right?). :D

Thanks for all this, H. I love being able to toss ideas back and forth like this, and I'm off now to check out that Zen link. *hugs*
Sep. 11th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC)
The FlyLady 'doing a little bit of something then stopping' concept has been helping a bit with bigger tasks - it's something I've never done before (MUST...HAVE...COMPLETENESS) but it's so cool to say to myself 'let's put away just a couple of those pieces of laundry while waiting for the kettle to boil' and seeing how quickly the pile can go down. Again, something that doesn't come naturally to me - yet. But I'm working on it. :)

With the blocks, I haven't really been looking at the big ones (such as 'why do I feel so bad about myself that I make myself live in chaos!?') but have been doing it on a tiny, tiny micro scale. More like identifying that I feel resistant to something and keeping an eye out for better ways of doing it while I get it done. The laundry has been my greatest success with this - once I realised that the confusion of the unsorted laundry was blocking me from doing it and replaced the big basket in the bedroom with three small ones, it took NO effort to throw a presorted load into the washing machine when I got home from work.

Thank you SO much for the ideas and the brainstorming - it's so great to have a friend who is on the same path! (And we're even alike enough that quite a lot of the same things work for us both, which is really cool!) *mwah*
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