Hipster PDA Tips for People Obsessed With Productivity Pr0n But Bad At Actual Productivity

July 15, 2006

So, I went a little crazy with my Hipster PDA. I have 7, count ‘em, 7 different types and sizes of index cards, and I’ve experimented with all the different mods, color combinations, templates and tricks you can imagine. Below is a list of Hipster PDA resources as well as a summary of what I’ve learned.

Templates:
a million monkeys typing » D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition
John Norris
Just A Guy – Adam Gurno » Tricking out the Hipster
GTDTiddlyWiki – all your tasks are belong to you

Cases:
Getting Things Done … for teachers: Ductster PDA
Levenger Shirt Pocket Briefcase
Zipster
The Index Card Wallet
Ryan Stewart’s HipsterCover

Mods/hacks:
Hipster Variants @ 43FoldersWiki
Hipster PDA/Hacks @ 43FoldersWiki

Other links/tips:
Organizing Your Hipster PDA
Hipster PDA tag @ Technorati
Hipster PDA tag @ Flikr
Hipster PDA tag @ del.icio.us

Supplies:
Office Depot’s selection of index cards
Office Max’s selection of index cards
Pilot G2 Retractable Gel Ink Pens
Fisher Space Pen
Cross Ion Pen

Index card apparel:
The index card t-shirt

Summary of my time and obsession with the Hipster PDA:
When I get obsessed with something, I get REALLY obsessed with it. My girlfriend is usually blindsided by this, and in this instance she woke up one Saturday morning to find me setting up a new printer that would handle 3X5 cards, surrounded by scattered half-printed or screwed up DIY Planner: Hipster PDA edition templates.

I tried EVERY suggestion for templates, modifications, and additions that I’ve linked here, and more just from reading forum posts or seeing others’ ideas on Flikr. I put together about 4 different hpdas before I finally found one that I actually use consistently. Here’s what I learned.

“Hipster PDA Tips for People Obsessed With Productivity Pr0n But Bad At Actual Productivity”

1) Go out and buy all the cool pens that everyone mentions in relation to the Hipster PDA. No really, go ahead. You won’t feel right until you’ve test-driven them all. Then, when you realize that all the new pens are too big/too small/the cap falls off/are too pretty/made you afraid to remove them from your desk/whatever, use the pen you normally use. If you must make ANY change, go for a fine or extra fine point version of your usual pen preference.

2) Print out every template you can get your hands on. In fact, buy a spare pack of index cards just for this purpose. Check them all out. See how they look in 3X5 form. Then, when you realize that the lines are too small/the lines are too light/”this template just bugs me because…”/you have lists and ideas and notes that don’t fit into any available online template, you have two choices. These two choices are based solely on the kind of geek you are. Are you a Geek Who Craves Structure or a Geek Stifled By Structure? Craving geeks will need to make their own templates (or modify an available template) to exactly fit their ideal hpda structure. This is the only way you’ll ever be able to have a template for your prized People to Maim if I Ever Get the Chance or Rare Arachnids I’ve Spotted On My Balcony lists. The stifled geek needs to give up on templates all together. Trust me, the ruled lines (or grid, if you prefer) provide enough structure for you. “Tag” your cards with general topics and ideas so you understand what the hell you’re looking at when you flip through them later. Or don’t. No pressure.

3) Buy a large assortment of different types of index cards. I recommend the following:
Oxford® White Recycled Index Cards, Unruled, 3″ x 5″, Pack Of 500
Oxford® White Recycled Index Cards, Ruled, 3″ x 5″, Pack Of 500
Oxford® Tabbed Index Cards, 1/3 Cut, Ruled, 3″ x 5″, White, Pack Of 50
Oxford® Color Bar Ruled Index Cards, 3″ x 5″, Pack Of 100
Oxford® Color-Coded Index Cards, 3″ x 5″, Multicolor With Assorted Edges, Pack Of 100
I also recommend the following items for filing used cards:
Oxford® Blank Manila Guides, 1/5 Cut, 3″ x 5″, Box Of 100
Eldon® Card File, 3″ x 5″ x 3″, Black

4)Gather this stuff up and sort it around, mess with it, and organize it until it resembles something unique and crazy… but it just might work.

5) Recognize the differences between todo lists that are ongoing/longterm and daily. Do your best to keep these items on separate cards.

6) Get an idea/project/cluster of stuff that doesn’t seem to fit into any category or onto any template? Make a new card, and a new template, if necessary. These are index cards, and they’re cheap. With this system, it’s better to keep information encapsulated than to try and cram it all into one general category. For example, you have a grocery shopping list going. Instead of jotting an idea for an office supply you need to get onto your grocery list, make a new card. The grocery list is temporary and you’ll probably feel like tossing it once you’re done with your weekly shopping. You might not make it to the office supply store until later in the week, when you’ll still be carrying around your shopping list plus the one or two items you need from the office supply store.

7) Use the backs of cards for continuations, not new lists/ideas. Encapsulation is key.

8) Keep blank cards in the back. Don’t include too many spare templates. If you’ve been carrying them around for a week and haven’t needed them, take them out of your stack until you do.

9) Even though the hpda is supposed to be the ultimate in disposable portability, I can’t stand to cram it into my pocket, making my neat cards all bent, sweaty or smashed. To solve this obsessive compulsive dilemma, always carry at least one card with you. Think of this as your hpda “laptop” that you can use while out and then “sync” to your main hpda when you get home. Tuck it into your wallet, your money clip, or your pocket. You can always add it to the stack if you have to jot something down while you’re out. And besides, who ever needs to write more than one card worth of stuff while they’re at the store or the mall?

10) If you’re interested in the hpda, you’re probably one of those people (like me) who is intimidated by complex fancy organization solutions or fetishized planners like Moleskine notebooks and Day Runners. The cheaper and junkier your hpda is, the more likely you are to use it. Don’t fancy it up. Don’t order monogrammed 3X5 cardstock, no matter how tempting it may be. Don’t clip it with an expensive money clip… 3/4 inch binder clips are the hpda’s best friend. Most importantly, do whatever it takes to make your hpda usable to you.

12 Responses to “Hipster PDA Tips for People Obsessed With Productivity Pr0n But Bad At Actual Productivity”


  1. Thanks so much for all the links. What a great resource your post was.

    I plan to give up my BlackBerry for a Hipster PDA I assembled using a template kit from D*I*Y Planner. I start this Monday, 8/14. I’m going to upgrade my PDA with some of the templates you linked to.

  2. Brandy Says:

    That was a great article, I think you are freakin hilarious and probably my soul-mate;) Justkidding.

  3. Qrystal Says:

    I tremble at the sight of the title of this article… Productivity Pr0n, indeed! I think I’m addicted to it, as I’ve been reading about Productivity for months now, and reading about the hPDA for almost a whole week. This article had me fingering my hPDA the whole time I was reading….

    I wish I found this article earlier this week, when I was going through all kinds of self-doubt… should I really be spending this entire day downloading other peoples’ templates when I’m not sure I will use them? should I really be spending this entire day making my own templates because the ones I downloaded yesterday aren’t ones I would actually use? etc.

    I’m glad I looked at the templates, and even though I’m starting to feel satisfied with my own, I am searching for more, just in case there was something I can’t live without.

    ~Qrystal~
    P.S. Is my hPDA too small? *holds up a ruler* 4mm… maybe I need to stuff in a few blanks! Yeah! That’s what it’s missing!! …..5mm now! MUHAHAHAHA!

  4. Pr0n0 Says:

    This is by far the *best* post on the Hipster. Cheers!


  5. […] can put things together however you want, and many people have put out their suggestons and ideas for hacking the Hipster. I decided to try out this tool a few weeks ago, and have been absolutely […]


  6. […] a joke (mostly regarding consumer culture and technological fetishism) but has become quite popular amongst enthusiasts of David Allen’s Getting Things Done and other folk who favour a return to a less complicated […]

  7. Merijn Says:

    After I read aboutcreate, connect, consume and getting round to buy indexcards, I’ve colorcoded them according to ech of those three words.

    Just started my organisation, but decided just to spend about one hour max to read about hipster pda’s and am just going to use one.

    This post was one of the more entertaining *and* informative ones, thanks!

  8. A Noob Hipster Says:

    Thanks for this list. It’s still very useful years after you created it – there are still “noobs” like me!

  9. Cedric Scola Says:

    Hi I found your site when i was searching Yahoo for sites related to this content. I must say, I like your site. I like the layout too, its pleasing. I don’t have much time at the moment to fully read your website but I have noted it and I also signed up for your RSS feed. I will be back in a day or two. Thanks for an useful site.

  10. Patrick Says:

    I started using a hpda and ran into the crushed sweaty card problem. I feel all the “active” cards need to be carried around to remind one of different errands and tasks outside the home office that need to be done, to be able to add ideas to relevant cards when they come in, etc.

    Anyone found a good system to protect the cards?


  11. just have modify the hpda in a more works 4 me model -> http://oyen.de/hipster [image with some descriptions] thx2 Merlin again


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