Mead RingDex: Instant Hipster PDA For Two Bucks

Our guest poster today, Garry Ray, is a former technology editor for PC Week (now eWeek), and has written for a score of publications including Computerworld, PC Computing and The Washington Post. He currently works in the computer security field, and has a latent attraction to office supplies.

One ironic thing I've been noticing is that us GTD and Hipster PDA newbies spend an awful lot of time cruising office supply stores and web sites looking for hacks and improvements to our new organized and efficient analog tools.

So it was no surprise that one of my "Next Actions, context @Shopping" last week was "Get binder rings, Office Depot." I wanted to go upscale from the Hipster's elemental index cards plus binder-clip deck, to the niftier ring-bound version, and if luck was with me, to spot whatever else seemed cool from the posts and the huge Flickr montage of Hipster PDA photos.

After finally locating a box of 20 assorted binder rings in Office Depot's "Staples & Paper Clips" aisle ($2.99, and I needed only one of the 20 rings), I ambled over to the index cards section of the store. And there was precisely what you might expect: the standard 500-packs of white cards and colored cards; 100 packs; boxy archival files; and the rest. Stuff that really doesn't add to Hipster creativity.

Then I spotted two rummaged boxes of something I'd never seen anywhere before: bundles of shrink-wrapped index cards with the ring binders already attached. Huh? What's this?

Mead RingDex

It turns out to be the Mead RingDex, the closest thing I've ever seen to a ready-made and instant Hipster PDA.

The RingDex comprises 80 punch-holed index cards (20 each with one of four color codings at the edge, lined front and blank back); two 1-inch binder rings attaching the cards at each long-edge corner; front and back external vinyl covers; and two internal vinyl tab pages.

Mead RingDexIn fact this is a complete Hipster PDA for $2.09! (Office Depot price)

Of course to make it an authentic Hipster there's some work involved: you first have to open the shrinkwrap and remove one of the two binder rings from the card deck, then flip the deck over so that the blank (not lined) sides are upward-facing. That's it. You're done.

But after several days of use, I discovered a serious flaw in my RingDex-as-Hipster: 80 index cards is way too many cards to carry, and it defeats the purpose of the ring binder (you can't easily clip and unclip your cards).

So I disassembled the whole thing and removed about one-half of the index cards. Then, retrieving that initial "extra" binder ring, I reattached all of the excess cards, now having either a second Hipster PDA (albeit without vinyl covers and tabs), or simply a set of spare index cards for the primary Hipster.

In any case there's finally the standard customizing with Post-It Durable Index Tabs and D*I*Y Planner templates. The tweaking is never really done.

Thinking I might not see them again, I bought two complete RingDex packs (there were less than a dozen on the shelf). That'll keep me going for a couple months, for just $4.18, and resupply will be either my manually-punched Levenger index cards (I have a good stock of those) or the prepunched Oxford index cards (also pricy, but convenient).

Someone at Mead must be tuned into Hipster. The RingDex is that close to the perfect Hipster PDA implementation. Now maybe someone can convince them to print D*I*Y Planner templates on the RingDex cards, and we can get on to tweaking some other GTD tools. Anything is possible.

By the way, I put that box of 20 binder rings back on the store shelf.

The RingDex is Mead part number 63072, but as of this writing it wasn't to be found in the Mead catalog at

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Good Score!

An excellent find!

It seems I've been noticing (esp. in my most recent Levenger catalog) more and more 3x5 related items.



Scott - I started with 3x5 cards and the Pocket Briefcase from Levenger at least 10 years ago. Heck, I still have half a box of their great (and very pricey) 3x5 cards which I'm now punching and tucking into the Hipster.

I still have 3 variants of the Pocket Briefcase, but the one that gets the most use isn't from Levenger, it's a nondescript leather shirt-pocket case from some office supplies store, which I picked up for about $10.00. I still use that regulary (the Levenger "shirt pocket" card cases aren't really "shirt pocket" sized, IMO).

By the way, I call those Levenger 3x5's "the Moleskine of index cards".

You've described almost

You've described almost exactly what I did with mine. I removed about 3/4 of the cards and one of the rings, put in a DIY Planner 2006 calendar and a copy of the GTD flowchart.

The plastic covers do a nice job protecting the cards. I bought the clear one, my todo list is the first card in my stack so I can review it without moving the cover. I just pull the cards out of my pocket and the list is right there, safe befind the cover.

The best $2 I've spent in a long time.


Couldn't find a single RINGDEX on the shelves in Torrance, CA. MUST be a trend!! Only the empty boxes with RINGDEX scrawled across the front. I must have arrived a day too late. Hopefully Office Depot, Staples and the others will restock soon.

The Ringdex

I found these @ the local Office Depot. There were (are) a limited number of them. As noted, they are not on the Mead website. I called Mead thinking that they are no longer made, but was told only that "they are not in stock at this time." I am not sure what that means, just wanted to let you know what I found out.


Ringdex at Walgreens

I just found Mead Ringdexes at Walgreens. In 2 of the 3 stores I have been in over the last month, they had them. I bought 4. My girlfriend liked my idea and bought 3 at another Walgreens up the street. Might be worth checking out. They were 1.99 each here in Iowa.

DIY RingDex -- Sooooooooo simple when you know the secret

And the secret is that the punched holes are the exact same spacing as a standard 3-hole punch for your standard American 8.5 x 11 letter-size page. I just recently discovered this recently and the ping on this thread reminded me to share my discovery.

Also, with a bit of creativity, you can make your own covers and dividers from either card-stock dividers (like these) or I also had excellent results chopping them out of plastic folders of various thicknesses.

MEAD Ring-Dex

These are FABULOUS little notebooks!

I used 2 in art school to keep track of my glaze recipies (for ceramics); a red one for hi-temp glazes, & a blue one for low-temp.

I also have one for an address book, & used another as a job-hunting file.

I've been looking for more of these notebooks--and inserts--for YEARS; the last time I found one was nearly 20 yrs ago @ a university bookstore.

They are just so darned handy ! ! ! I wish they were easier to find!