[Author's Note: This is the last part of a two-part series on "How To Effectively Manage Your Priorities" and a quick Review of Field Notes Notebook]
In the first part of this series, we’ve discussed about an effective method of setting your task priorities. Separating your tasks according to the level of concern associated with them can greatly help you focus your attention to the right priorities at any given time. And, by having a clear overview of your tasks in their appropriate category, you can easily determine which tasks need what resources. Knowing the right tools to use and the amount of resources needed beforehand can mitigate your job by a large percentage.
But How To Apply This Method?
Before we proceed further, let me stop referring to this method as “this method”. Let’s give this priority system a name: Concern Based Prioritizing Method.
The traditional ToDo List or Next Action List may not be the suitable tool to use with our Concern Based Prioritizing Method. I’ve mentioned about the problems with the traditional ToDo List in a previous post. In the traditional ToDo List, categorizing your tasks will force you to move your tasks around from time to time as your priorities may shift from one category to another depending upon the demand of your work at that particular day.
Using the “context tag” of a digital version of task management, such as Nirvana, may not be effective either. There must a better way of applying our Concern Based Prioritizing Method in a digital way; but I’ve come up with a offline system that is both simple and intuitive. Yes, it’s paper-based system adapted from the popular Hipster PDA.
Hipster PDA Using Field Notes Notebook
Hipster PDA is a popular GTD tool hack. I just love how 43Folders.com describe this simple tool: “It scales brilliantly, degrades gracefully, supports optional categories and “beaming,” and is conﬁgurable to an unlimited number of options.” Let me explain why I prefer an analog tool over a digital one this time. We’ve encountered a system downtime recently at the office because of a county-wide power outage. My tasks lists were of no use because most of them are online (my work task list are on the in-house system, my personal task lists are hosted online). With no current to power the computers, there was not much that I can do except to make the necessary phone calls. I’ve learned a very important lesson there: Papers will not go away in the near future. The old-school paper-based todo list will always have its room for any productivity system despite the advancement of the digital technology.
What We Need:
- 3 Field Notes Brand Notebook – which you can purchase from http://fieldnotesbrand.com/
- 1 Field Notes Brand “General-Purpose Band of Rubber” or any ordinary rubber band to tie the 3 notebooks together when not in use.
- 3 Message Binder Clips (with the appropriate labels – Urgent, Important, and Can Wait)
How To Assemble:
Perhaps no step-by-step instruction is needed here. I bought the 3 binder clips with the exact messages I need for this GTD tool hack from Walmart. Just in case you’re wondering, this is how the tool looks like after assembling the materials:
Why I Use Field Notes Brand Notebook
Field Notes is one of the brands of notebook that I use. I am a big fan of Field Notes. Its 5½ x 3½ inches, 48-page size makes it convenient to carry around in either my back pocket or backpack. I prefer the Graph Field Notes because I can easily draw check-boxes on them, which are just perfect for ToDo or Next Action Lists. The 3 staples that hold the paper look sturdy enough to withstand daily use and the constant shoving in the back pocket. I am using a Sharpie pen to write on the pages and the ink doesn’t bleed through on the back page. This is important because I am using the front and back page.
For the notebook fanatics, here are some specifications:
- Soft Cover – French Dur-O-Tone 80#C “Packing Brown Wrap,” with a thick, brute force, 1-Color application of “Dachshund Note” black Toyo ink.
- Pages / Innards – Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “White”, with a fine, soy-based, 1-Color application of “Double Knee Duck Canvas” light brown Toyo ink.
- Graph Grid – 3/16″ x 2/16″ (4.5mm by 4.5mm)
This pocket-sized notebook is really elegant that is why I prefer using it for my Concern Based Prioritizing Method over the ordinary 3×5 index cards. My ToDo Lists may be ordinary scribbles of the next actions necessary to get things done but they deserve to be written on something elegant. I always carry this “system” with me knowing that I can never rely on digital devices. Field Notes’ slogan is just right for me: “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I am writing it down to remember now.”
If you really want to dig deeper into why I keep a pocket notebook and what it is all about, there is a real tradition behind it (great post from the “Art of Manliness”).
Of course there are other practical application for Field Notes Brand Notebook, according to the notebook’s back page:
- Inspired Ramblings
- Crop Predictions
- Half-Ass Calculations
- Big Ideas / Insights
- Hate Mail
- Poignant Quotes