hPDA question from a neophyte

as part of implementing GTD i'm experimenting with an hPDA in tandem with my palm PDA. both obviously have their advantages and disadvantages -- the biggest perk of the paper edition for me is being able to write on paper with a pen (i hate graffiti).

anyway, my question is how do you fit all your contacts and projects into an hPDA? i've got maybe a dozen projects so far (more to come), with no contacts in paper format yet, and the hPDA has already outgrown my levenger shirt pocket briefcase. if i enter my couple hundred or so contacts into paper form the hPDA may outgrow my pants pockets.

how do you keep your planner at a manageable size yet still have all your important data readily at hand?


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I say for all the contacts that don't change much, print your info on your cards instead of writing it. You can (often) print smaller than you can write legibly.

Alternatively, print your contacts on larger paper and fold it up into something small to carry. The only stuff you need to handwrite is stuff you're jotting down to take back to the computer later. :) Or stuff you think is going to change so rapidly there's no point in entering it into the computer. Paper is thinner than index card, so by the time you've folded it into 1/6 or 1/8, it's not that much thicker than one card would be--and you got 6 or 8 times as much space to work with.

I don't have as many contacts as you, but that's how I do it. I'm not using a hipster--I use quarter letter, 4.25 x 5.5. But the same issues apply.


I use my Palm for my address

I use my Palm for my address book. Usually I write new addresses and phone numbers on an index card and input them into the Palm or its desktop whenever I have a minute.

Then again, I use my Palm for data storage and my hPDA for anything I want to write down... Maybe I'm not the best one to answer this. :)

My Contacts Stay Digital

I use my iPod for my contacts because it syncs to my Apple Address Book. I use the Address Book when I'm on the computer, and I don't want to maintain contacts in two places. My contact list is huge. The iPod makes my Address Book portable. For everything else, including jotting down contact info to enter into Address Book later --because of course there is no data entry on an iPod-- I use a 4.25x5.5 (quarter page) planner. A little bigger than a hPDA, but as shris mentioned, the same issues apply.


At the point of need

For years I carried around contacts pages in my planner until I realised that there were very few occasions when the section was consulted. I removed those pages out. It was a highly satisfying moment. A section of my planner that made me feel guilty because it was never up-to-date had gone.

As all the contact details I ever need are stored on my mobile phone, PDA, or email address book anyway there was little point in scribbling this stuff down on paper. The mobile and PDA synch together with my laptop --- have had unfortunate experiences where a mobile has become physically damaged and can't be switched on and of a PDA losing charge so all the content was lost --- so my contacts' details are where I need them to be at the time I need them.

This means the information does become triplicated but does ensure that I never suffer major data loss again; actually it's quadruplicated (if such a word exists) as the information is backed up onto tertiary storage media just never onto paper.

I think you are seeing a consensus here...

If you have a PDA, some things belong on it--contacts being the primary item. The second item I personally keep on my Palm is appointments--things I need to be reminded of. I put them in KSDatebook, and have an alarm set. This way, I don't need to remember them, or think about them--I don't allow my needing to remind myself keep me from getting my work done.

However, how to integrate the two....

I have found that I have two types of "data" needs. Things that need to be written down quickly, and things that need to be referenced quickly. Those things that need written down quickly go into my hPDA or PocketMod, and things that need to be referenced quickly go onto my Palm (or computer). There are some data types that fit in both categories, Contacts, for instance, are one of those items that need quick reference, but also quick writing (standing there, trying to write in Grafitti on a Palm, while somebody giving you a phone number is _not_ something I like), so I enter new contact info onto paper, and transfer it later. Same with new appointments. So, I use paper for my "Inbox" almost exclusively--even if I get info via email that requires action, I put it onto paper. For me, if it stays electronic, it is too easily forgotton or lost in the mass of data I have on my computer and Palm, so it goes onto paper ASAP.

However, I like having the electronic for reference, so anything important that needs to be kept will be filed electronically. I use both my computer and my Palm for these things. For instance, on my Palm, I keep things like ink cartridge part numbers for our various printers, clothing sizes--things like that, which I may need while out and about.

On the hPDA, I use it for tasks, next actions, inbox. Those immediate things, that require "eyeballs" but aren't time-sensitive get written down. I also tend to brainstorm on paper (no mindmaps yet--but I want to try one), and just plain notes. I find that, when I used like this, my needs are relatively simple. I keep, behind my Palm, in my Palm case (a fliptop case that hangs on my belt), a PocketMod from pocketmod.com, or more recently, made with DIYPlanner templates and PagePacker (sorry, mac-only). I like to print these both-sides, and get 16 pages stapled together in my PocketMod. I also carry a "ductster" wallet with more 3x5 cards (mostly blank, but with a year calendar, and a couple forms--just in case), and a nice, thin pen. Oh, and my Palm has a telescoping stylus with a pen in the cap. ;-) So, between these three, I have everything I need at hand. (Why both the 3x5s and pocketmod? Sometimes, I want to give away the info I write, or let somebody else do the writing. Also, 3x5s are bigger than A7, and sometimes that extra size helps.)

So, to summarize, you want to look for the classes of information you have, and use each medium to its strong point for each class of information. For me, it's quick entry vs. quick retrieval. Once I realized that, my solution was simple.


Where'd you get that telescoping stylus? I want one!

This little guy

It's this little guy, LINK

But mine came with my Tungesten T when I bought it used. For the record, the Tungsten T comes with a telescoping stylus, which was kind of unusual for Palm (and the original is spring-loaded, too!). I don't know if you can get a telescoping stylus for other models. I do know you can get pen/stylus combos for them, but I don't know if they telescope like mine does.



You're mean for posting that eBay link -- I had to buy the darned thing. *grin* Thanks!


So much for me buying a backup! ;-)

(as if there isn't a near-bottomless-pit of these things!)

Contacts in both

Hi Tom,

I use a Fobster, business card size hPDA, for the personal contact and calendar info I need all the time. eg important phone numbers. (I recently found a business card holder that's also a keyring which I use to carry the fobster cards. The contact info is printed in 6 point.)

This means that the contacts in my Hipster are generally limited to Business Contacts. I have a few cards that are lists of contacts with the matching projects - not a formal template, I simply print out my outlook contact list, stick it onto a card and write in the matching project. I use this method as most of my "projects" are very short term.

Whereas my Palm has a copy of all the contact info from my Outlook, including work meetings.

I use a mix...

Like others have mentioned, I use a mix of PDA (my Treo) and something to write on. Relatively static info - contacts plus memos with info-bits I might need, and my calendar - I keep on my Palm device (usually my Treo, but I keep my Zire 72 sync'd and ready to go with ebooks, etc., when I know I'll have longer wait times). For quick input, I use paper, either 3x5s or my small Moleskine notebook, depending on the nature of the info.

Not sure that's helpful to you since I carrying a purse or bag and don't have to worry about fitting all that into pockets.

I, personally, don't see a need to restrict myself to *one* way of doing things. My needs change, depending on time and place and context, so I see no problem with changing my devices. Having said that, though, I will note that everything does end up in one place - on my main computer. :)

Good luck discovering what works best for you.

PDA case

I shelled out the bucks for one of Levenger's Universal PDA cases. PDA on one side, index cards on the other, all in a lovely little zip-up case. And the thing fits in my front pants/jeans pocket as long as I'm not wearing anything skin-tight. It's very cool, and no purse required. (I've moved to a belt pack anyway. Hate purses.)

thanks for the replies

and insights. very helpful.

it sounds like some kind of hybrid system may be the conclusion. what i don't like about that is having to carry multiple devices (hPDA, PDA, cell phone). the probability of me leaving one or more at home, and it being the one i need, increases exponentially with the total number. :-)

another discovery i've made about the hPDA is so far i really don't like having my projects on such small pieces of paper. pre GTD i used 8.5x11 for tracking projects -- i might be able to go half that size but i don't think the index cards are going to make it.

so i may end up with several devices and use/carry what seems to be appropriate at the time.

thanks again!

use the right tool for the job...

I find it is best to find the right tool for the right job and use them in combination. I keep all my contacts in my address book in my Mac and occasionally print out a copy of the whole thing (just in case). I keep a few pages in my planner with the important phone numbers I'm likely to use in the next week or so.

As for project planning, an HPDA is definitely too small for me. I use it a small notebook for capturing important information and then enter it into the computer or planner later.