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Mobile analogue or hybrid organisational and time-management system

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Posted by nathanb
Feb 11, 2018 at 02:29 PM


I have similar goals of an analog/digital combo.  After trying several things, the analog part that has been working well is a Rhodia A6 Wirebound Notebook https://rhodiapads.com/collections_spiral_A6.php

For me, it is ‘just’ big enough to handle any sort of detailed notes/sketch, two columns of tasks, or to divide into halves/quadrants to play with plan/actual layouts. Basically it’s the biggest one I could find and still consider pocket-able.  I always felt way too limited by the size of most ‘pocket’ notebooks like Moleskines.  I like the grid or dot patterned ones and it has 5 squares per inch where most grid notebooks are 4 squares per inch. Seems silly but that makes a big difference in how ‘big’ it feels when filling out a page.  I write kind of small and coupled with my favorite .38MM Pilot G2 (cheap) pen, I can fit A LOT of info on a single page if I really want to. It’s high quality paper and therefore a joy to write on but still ‘cheap enough’ so I don’t feel wasteful for just scribbling a note/sketch to tear out and hand to people.  Because I can sometimes cram an entire day of planned/actual tasks on one or two pages, I just take a pic and drop into a digital journal for posterity.  I also prefer the top spiral bound format (called a reporter’s notebook I think) because it lays flat on the table as opposed to the stapled pocket notebooks that you have to hold open.  The format also enables better front/back flip options.  Like I can write down a detailed list and plan for the day on one page and use the ‘flip-side’ as the stream-of-consciousness sloppiness of real-life. 

I did try a Filofax for a while, they allow re-arranging of pages, which helps mitigate the worst analog limitation of not being able to re-arrange on the fly.  But I found that was more conducive to being mostly digital with task/project management.  Like you, I really just want a ‘day-control’ analog and any task/calendar/project/reference beyond today belongs to my digital world.  For that purpose, the Rhodia notebook has been great as it feels nicer and more functional than cheap scratchpads but not as serious as a Moleskine.  It’s both my planner and scratchpad, depending on the whim of the minute.


Posted by LM7
Feb 11, 2018 at 02:33 PM


You might want to try a program which integrates tasks with calendar functions in a manner which facilitates filtering by priority, tags, etc., and which has mobile apps - Essential Pim Pro and Leadertask (which, BTW, will apparently be significantly discounted later this week in BitsduJour) come to mind. Properly configuring such programs enables you to prepare custom filters which enable you to focus on the “big picture” when you wish, and on individual tasks when you wish.

That said, I personally use a different system now (as with all CRIMPers, this is potentially subject to change…): I record my big tasks in Todoist (Pro/Business; as an academic you should be entitled to get this at 50% discount), where I have a special set of custom labels and filters to enable me to focus on the big picture, including big projects as well as big tasks belonging or not belonging to specific projects.

In addition, my daily tasks are recorded manually in a notebook, which I schedule on a daily basis, divided into five principal parts: morning, afternoon, early evening, late evening, and desired tasks (which, naturally, I often don’t get around to doing on schedule). I have also begun to record on facing pages what I actually accomplished, with the hope of analyzing how things went and thereby optimizing my workflow.

BTW, I too am an academic, with research, teaching, supervisory and editorial responsibilities, so my setup might also work for you. And I have tried Workflowy, as well as Moo.Do and Dynalist - and at least for the present, I find that my present setup works much better for me.


Posted by LM7
Feb 11, 2018 at 04:12 PM


PS If you use Todoist Pro/Business, you can also schedule tasks for specific hours. Likewise, this software provides virtually instantaneous two-way sync w/ Gcal.

Additional ideas for hybrid systems - https://thesweetsetup.com/hybrid-producitivy-method-using-both-analog-and-digital-for-task-management/ (while Apple oriented, the basics of this can be adapted, mutatis mutandis, to Windows/Android as well).


Posted by Dr Andus
Feb 11, 2018 at 04:16 PM


LM7 wrote:
>In addition, my daily tasks are recorded manually in a notebook, which I
>schedule on a daily basis, divided into five principal parts: morning,
>afternoon, early evening, late evening, and desired tasks (which,
>naturally, I often don’t get around to doing on schedule). I have also
>begun to record on facing pages what I actually accomplished, with the
>hope of analyzing how things went and thereby optimizing my workflow.

Thank you for your suggestions. Concerning Todoist, I have tried it in the past but for some reason I prefer WorkFlowy. Please note that I’m quite happy with the digital side of my current setup. So I’m not looking for alternative digital solutions.

Instead, my main issue is that due to the easily expandable nature of digital space (e.g. as a task in Google Calendar), I have a hard time keeping track of (or appreciate) the physical disappearance of time.

I don’t doubt that other people can manage this digitally. Maybe this has to do with my idiosyncratic mental make-up. For some reason I need the discipline imposed by the physical constraint of the size of a paper index card, blank business card, post-it note, page size of paper notebook etc. to remind me that my daily time is limited and that I better switch tasks if I want to have any hope of accomplishing my reading and writing (which is easy to reschedule to another day and then never actually do).

So the most interesting aspect of your post to me is how you use your notebook to manage your daily activities.

To put it another way, I need a physical representation of ringfenced time (e.g. an index card representing 1 hr of reading, another representing 1 hr of writing etc.), so I know when to start saying “no” to demands that threaten the ringfenced hours in a given day, and reschedule those to another day, rather than my high value-added activities (which sadly ends up being the casualty most of the time, hence my plea for help).

Unfortunately it’s not as simple as ringfencing a specific time of the day (e.g. 9-11am for research) because my teaching or other meetings can take place in those hours, and so I need a flexible way of managing and shuffling these blocks of time. It’s really has to do more with disciplining myself than anything else. I just need a physical object to tell me that “you’ve ran out of allocated admin time, stop looking at your emails and switch to reading and writing, otherwise the latter will not get done today, and this lost time will never come back).


Posted by Paul Korm
Feb 11, 2018 at 05:14 PM


There are smaller-format (1” square) stickie notes available.

I’d also suggest the Kokuyo Jibun sticky notes and their sticky to-do notes.  Available at a reasonable price from JetPens (and others)


Franz Grieser wrote:
>First idea that comes to mind: small stickies (Post-It) instead of index
>>cards. You can stick them in a notebook and move them around on the
>>page, if needed.
>>You could also use different colors for different tasks or priorities.
> Dr Andus wrote:>That’s an excellent suggestion, thank you very much! I’ve just tested
>it, and while 4 post-it notes don’t quite fit side-by-side exactly in my
>3"x5” notebook, it’s still doable with a little overlap, so this would
>actually do the trick. I will give this a try next week in a real-life


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