Index Card Wallet


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I've been using index cards to manage my responsibilities and tasks for a while, now, and I can't tell you how helpful they are. I've had a Palm Pilot for several years, and I've tried David Allen's Getting Things Done program with that, but found it a little frustrating. Just tapping the 'done' checkbox wasn't very satisfying. And, since I try to always keep a "Next Action" item for every project, my list never shrank!

With index cards, the list still doesn't shrink, but now I can see my small accomplishments more clearly. I endorse the tear-it-up-when-you've-done-it method of marking progress, and I keep the torn-up cards in a little box on my desk until the end of the week. It's a nice, tangible tally of how well I've been doing the things I set out to do.

Silly? Maybe. But it works for me.

I use these wallets to organize and carry my context lists. I only have a few that I carry with me - work, home and errands is pretty much it. For me, there's room enough for the day's tasks and a few blank cards.

I also use them to organize some projects. I'll use an unlined blue index card to capture the name of the project and its goal - the measurable thing in the world whose existence or properties prove the project is done - and unlined white ones to manage actions.

I have one for weekend tasks that I fill during the week and (try to) empty on Saturday

I use more than one of the same color to hold project ideas that I'm deferring until later. This helps me avoid scope-creep, where ideas accumulate so fast they effectively halt progress. I write each one on a card, and if it doesn't fit with my goals for the current phase, it goes in the "maybe later" wallet. (Some people call this "Phase x" - the ill-defined part of the project that comes "later.")

Why Index Card Wallets?

To keep your private lists private

To keep your writing from getting smudged, and your cards from getting beaten up

The heavy card stock is more durable than a naked packet of cards.

A full wallet of 3x5 cards disappars comfortably in a pocket.

Organize your cards by topic, project or context

Who doesn't like to color-code things?

Oh... You don't? Try the manila ones, then!

Why Index Cards?

They're cheap, replacements are available anywhere when you run out, you can use them for anything, they don't break, they still work when you run out of batteries.

You can organize and re-organize them into exactly the lists you need when you need them.

You can take with you only the ones you need. And a few blank ones for whatever comes up while you're out.