I'm a mess...advice needed

I'm in need of some help. I've dedicated 2006 to self improvement. I've lost weight (60 lbs), I've done some home improvements and I've gotten a grip on my finances (somewhat). Where I can't help myself is in keeping things in order. I bought GTD and I've bought a mountain of 3x5 cards. I also bought a Moleskine and a little leather pocket briefcase like the Levenger one.

Here's my problem that's typical of my indecisive self, I can't decide on how to go about using this stuff. I'm just a guy who works a regular job and I have 2 kids. I'm not in meetings and I don't travel for work. I also don't have 100 emails a day. I just want to collect thoughts, remember to pay bills, keep track of my kids' appointments, maybe hold some receipts and track my fantasy football team. I've tried 2 or 3 Palm Pilots, a Smartphone and a huge Planner but I never kept them up or just found them to be overkill. I really like the idea of the Hipster mixed with the DIY but I'm not sure how to go about making one. I know I don't like the Moleskine because I'm afraid to use it and I find it limited since I don't want to tear anything out of it. Also, it's too big to really carry around. I also am not sure about the pocket briefcase because it's really tough to take out the cards. I also hate the money compartment. Money clip here I come.

I may attempt to make a Ducster tonight :)

Any advice would be great.



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i feel your pain...

I understand the process you're going through, as it's one that I am also (or have been for a year). I've tried Palm Pilots and a Dell Axim, but in my opinion they're both just electronic address books/calendars, and too much to carry for just that function. You can't realistically input tasks/data into them efficiently. I now sync my addresses/calendar to my blackberry. I have just a regular black binder that I have several different sections of that are relevant to what I do. Since I'm in sales, some are prospect related. Some are projects (GTD system). I print my Outlook calendar (monthly view) a few months ahead, and put it in the binder. I've used some of the 8 1/2 x 11 templates from this site for my binder...I have not tried the hipster yet. I don't have the patience for the printing/cutting, and am not sure that the small size would work for me.

I have both a pocket briefcase and an international pocket brief (the one that opens like a wallet) and more times than not (like right now) I have about 20 index cards clipped together in my pocket. It sounds like you have some of the OCD-like tendencies that I do, in not wanting to "damage" your moleskine...i've just recently tried to make myself use it more, as I have like 3 of them in a drawer that aren't getting any use. It sounds like the binder clip/index cards may work for you. You don't worry about them getting all bent up or torn. Good luck. Post with any things that work for you, as it's still a work in progress for me also.

A random suggestion--


I've found that trying to set up too elaborate of a system is one of the most insidious time-managment problems :).

I carry my index cards in a plastic case that's about 1/2 an inch thick. It's not as nice looking or as fancy as a Pocket Briefcase, but in my experience, it's much more functional. There's probably a "happy medium" somewhere if you want something nicer than $1.65 plastic that's still functional; maybe someone here can give ideas for that.

I'm going to just throw in an idea for a system, there may or may not be anything here you want to borrow.

1. Whatever case you use for your index cards, have five index card tabs:
* Projects
* Actions/Calender
* "Stuff"
* File/Receipts
* Trash/Recycle

2. Keep your list of projects in the projects tab. This may just be one card, or there may be a couple of larger projects that need their own cards in addition to the list-- such as a card or cards for keeping track of your Fantasy Football team.(Or your list may run longer than a single card.)

3. My random suggestion for context headings on your "Action" cards: Family, Work, Home, Computer, Errands. This is also a good place for a monthly calender card, so that you remember to check it.

4. "Stuff" is where you stash anything collected by whatever you use for a collection device (a small note-pad with pages you don't mind ripping out, or maybe even your Pocket Briefcase could work for this). When you finish a page or a card, put it behind the "stuff" tab to process during your daily or weekly review.

5. "File" is where you put cards that don't need to be in the hPDA anymore, but that have information you want to save somewhere else before getting rid of. This is also a good place to stash reciepts.

6. "Trash/Recycle" is for cards you no longer need, but don't have a way to get rid of at the moment. (This may not be as useful to you as it is to me-- I do most of my reviewing during my long communte, with no trash or recycle handy.

Thanks for the quick

Thanks for the quick responses. Back on the Moleskine, I also don't find that it's practical for me since I don't "journal". I think a small regular notebook or the card suit me better. I actually made a Duct-Ster last night. I'm liking it so far. It looks like a bi-fold wallet with a small lip on each side to hold cards. I also cut up some file jackets to use as little folders inside of the Duct-Ster. I made it big enough to fit a bullet pen in the fold. It's pretty good. I'm going to try this for a couple of days and note what flaws it has. I may take another stab at this at the end of the week. I'd like to have a clamp on one side but it adds bulk. Maybe a butterfly clip?

As far as in the PDA, I think the "Projects, Actions/Calender, "Stuff", File/Receipts, Trash/Recycle suggestion may work. I'm going to fool around with my labeler for awhile ;) .

Oh, any suggestions on a good template for financial? Specifically monthly bills and occasional bills?


financial page

I used Word to create a simple personal bill paying page, 2 months per page. My planner is a small ring binder with paper about the size of a 3x5 card. On the left I list my regular monthly bills with the due date, earliest to latest. I leave a couple of blank lines at the bottom to write in occasional bills. On the right side I make 2 columns and label them with months and then just check off each one as I pay it. Pretty simple but works for me. Also made a similar page for my family's medications that I have to keep refilled, and a task sheet of things I have to do once a month (order pet food, etc.) I'm a low tech gal so I basically just print them out, trim to fit and punch holes. I would like to figure out how to print them double sided though.

Lisa P.

Thanks for the suggestion

Thanks for the suggestion Lisa. I'm going to work on the template once I get a moment.

Also, I found the perfect setup for me - the RingDex. I found an example of this in the gallery. 2 bucks for the whole rig. I took out about 50 of the cards and inserted a couple of the cards I printed out from the templates I downloaded here. I also cut up a couple of file jackets to to create mini folders/dividers. Oh, I am only using one of the rings too. I am using one of my wife's hair doodads to keep the thing from opening. I'm very pleased.



real templates

You're welcome! There are also some nice looking 3x5 finance templates already done on the Hello, Dollar! site:


Lisa P.