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> Loose leaf vs bound notebook for lists
Does anyone use loose leaf for their task management lists (whichever system you are using). I was wondering about the merits of each. I have each available to me (some very nice Filofax binders and some attractive notebooks). I can see that it can be beneficial to track previous achievements and notebooks can be easier to carry around, however loose leaf allows you to keep it a lot tidier over time and may provide a better use of paper.
February 3, 2011 at 9:16 |
Loose leaf let's me be more selective what I bring with me. However it is decidedly messier than a fixed page notebook.
February 3, 2011 at 12:09 |
With AF Loof leaf is very easy. But a fixed note book is much better for me.
As I am a bit messy, I prefer having all my information collected in one place even if it is not structured because i feel much better with no organised systems.
Little by little I realize that what ever i try to be organised I am much better when i am not.
As you know i am a commercial so I prefer blocs of informations like list of clients, list of tasks to do, list of projects, projects themselves on a computer or a binder in brief global info than precise and focus info for i loose all my intuition and lability.
If I had a psy i would ask why. The only thing I know is more it is simple best it works. Just dont ask me why.
February 3, 2011 at 13:19 |
I suppose this thing about keeping it simple goes back to allowing the system to be intuitive. If it is more complicated that is harder.
February 3, 2011 at 13:30 |
I use loose-leaf.
I think all talk of loose-leaf being complex or complicated is **VASTLY** overstating things.
When you say loose-leaf is like a HIFI with a bunch of knobs, do you mean "like ancient" or "like antique?" Hahahahahahahahahahaahaha
February 3, 2011 at 14:55 |
Alison et al,
I am also currently using a loose-leaf system.
On a previous trip home in the UK I bought a selection of the ADOCs binders and paper.
Not as good quality as Filofax and others, but good enough for now.
I've settled on A5 and am using one binder for both work and personal, the latter starting at the back upside down, but the paper inserted the right way up! I have identical colour dividers (thin, not sure how long they'll last).
The best paper format for me is squared and blank. The squared is a better use of the A5 size because the lines are closer together than the feint ruled, 40 vs about 24.
However, one of my work papers was done on A4 (12 x disc binder slots), but by careful folding, I can keep it in the A5 binder (8 slots). Yes, i sometimes have to take it out and unfold it, but better to carry round in and store in my work bag.
I think I would prefer a stronger, leather-type binder cover.
But I'm still watching tablet/slate developments, an 8.7" size (diagonal actual screen available) would be about the same size as an A5 binder. 7" may just be ok as well, which I'll be able to assess, sort of, when I set up my wife's new Galaxy Tab next week.
If a tablet/slate comes along with a decent digitiser (e-pen), I'll drop the paper binder and keep all my tasks, notes etc using OneNote or maybe something similar.
February 3, 2011 at 15:40 |
I once used a loose leaf set up when doing GTD. It was fine I just thought the GTD part was too complex. I have experimented with notebooks with removable pages versus hard bound books. When I was doing the USGTM I used spiral notebooks or legal pads so I could pull note pages off to file them. At the moment I am using a hard bound book and keeping lists in them and using a separate legal pad for notes. I requires some rewriting, but I am enjoying using a hard bound book. It is a blueline a9 with 192 pages and come with an index and a bunch of labels and tabs if you want to use them
February 3, 2011 at 17:47 |
The main thing that bothers me about loose-leaf is that the ring mechanism makes the notebook too thick to keep in my pocket. That's why I like the small Moleskine(sque) journal books.
Plus, I'm sure I'd try to "optimize" the loose-leaf notebook, like Mark says, and never get around to working my list. :-)
February 3, 2011 at 18:43 |
>Plus, I'm sure I'd try to "optimize" the loose-leaf notebook, like Mark says, and never get around to working my list. :-)<
This is a totally bogus claim that, although it's constantly repeated, never occurs in the real world by real world users of loose-leaf notebooks. It's right up there with the laughable "complicated" claim.
February 3, 2011 at 18:53 |
<< This is a totally bogus claim that, although it's constantly repeated, never occurs in the real world by real world users of loose-leaf notebooks. >>
It's certainly happened to me - in the real world.
February 3, 2011 at 20:23 |
Let me get this straight: You're stating that, simply because the nature of loose-leaf paper is that it allows for rearranging, your productivity suffered because you spent too much time rearranging?
What could you possibly be doing with 5-15 pages that would cause you to spend so much time on rearranging them that you would never get around to doing your list?
Really, I'm stunned! I'm flummoxed! I don't even know how to respond to that.
February 3, 2011 at 21:21 |
There is a strange aspect with loose leaf. About a mont ago I tried to use a binder. I made dividers and took some loose leaf to put in the dividers. I made an organization quiet structured (i spoke about it in this forum). The system did not work. First it was huge and impossible to carry with me every where (except taking the leafs) and secont there was a real loose of time to put it up to date.
After a week i realized that a single pocket notebook could contain easely my AF4R tasks or AF4 with a list of project. And on my office desk it was smaller and easier.
The question was about my projects. How to treat them, if I could not use a binder, because I needed them when I was in appointments...
Another problem was to prepare my new organization, for I will soon buy an ipad (when the ipad 2 wil be launched). I noticed many clients use it, they like seeing picture of buildings and i need to follow information about them such as what they are looking for and where.
So I decided to cleane my computer and I reorganized it in a way i could easely follow and find what i need and make it easely sync with my future ipad.
I dont use my binder anymore. It tooks too many place on my desk and i am much better when i dont have too many things on it and stay concentrate on my calls and negotiations.
Anyway the binder with loose leaf was not a succes for me. But for others it may be.
But AF4R on my pocket paper notebook is indeed a succes. And it works well with my projects on my mac. Sure it will be easy with the ipad. Then I will see if i can only work on i ipad or not the tactile change a lot about the way of working.
February 3, 2011 at 21:57 |
Size shouldn't be any argument, because Levenger (and others) make a loose-leaf "ring" system of very small dimensions – not much different the wire spiral of spiral bound notebooks.
As far as there being "a real loose of time to put it up to date," I just have to marvel at that statement, to put it politely.
February 3, 2011 at 22:18 |
I guess what I like about a loose leaf binder is that I can keep more than my time management lists in there. For example I use one at the moment to list projects for each customer, some basic contact info that I like to have to hand, website sign ins for both myself and things I have set up for customers etc etc. It's one 'go to' place for info. I am thinking of adding my master SF list as well.
I chose an A5 size and have a hole punch for it so I can create my own designed pages, print them out and punch them for my binder. I was thinking I could design a sheet with two columns for the new version fo SF if I decide to use it.
I guess I am lucky as I work mainly from home. When I go out and about for business I tend to have a brief case or laptop bag with me so I can easily take my binder. My home stuff I am keeping seperate at the moment.
February 3, 2011 at 22:35 |
Lose-leaf or bound. It's a matter of personal preference and experience. I grew up with solid bound notebooks with good quality paper, and an excellent fountain pen.
I never consider using even spiral bound notebooks, much less any lose-leaf. They are too cheap and too disposable with the pages that can be ripped at will. I don't have the feeling that things written in such a notebook have any importance or permanence. Never learned to use Bic either. I can use a gel pen when necessary, but my real handwriting can be done only with a fountain pen. If I can find paper that is decent enough.
I have been away from Europe for 25 years and never seen a decent notebook in any of the stationery stores on this continent. Even Moleskine paper is overrated.
And the recent fad with Levenger ring system? We had such notebooks in 1960's. They were used for quick notes; to be discarded sooner than later. And they were called ring-notebooks.
February 3, 2011 at 23:03 |
<< What could you possibly be doing with 5-15 pages that would cause you to spend so much time on rearranging them that you would never get around to doing your list? >>
Well, that is the problem. It isn't 5-15 pages. because the very nature of a looseleaf book encourages one to complicate things. You have your simple list, then you add pages for notes, then extra project pages, and a "someday maybe" list, and project task lists, and a contact list, and your schedule, and then the binder isn't big enough for all the pages, so you have to weed it. And what do you do with the weeded papers, do you throw them away or do you file them, and if so where? And how often do you need to weed the weeded papers, and shouldn't everything be cross-referenced somehow? And then there's the page dividers, and the flags, and the whole thing needs reorganising, and.....
I feel exhausted just thinking about it.
February 3, 2011 at 23:12 |
At least your argument is based on preference. That's a totally legitimate argument. I just don't find the "I spend too much time rearranging loose-leaf paper in a binder" or "it's complicated" arguments to carry any weight. And, I think the concerns about size are assuaged by the availability of various products that address those very concerns.
February 3, 2011 at 23:15 |
You don't have to operate a ringed system any differently than a non-ringed system.
And, flags don't have anything to do with the discussion of loose-leaf or bound paper. They work with either.
February 3, 2011 at 23:17 |
You don't *have* to, no. But the point is the temptation to complicate is there, which it is to a far lesser extent in a bound notebook. And we only have to look at the "tweaks" people put on this forum to see that our natural tendency is to complicate.
February 3, 2011 at 23:19 |
But that's the nature of people not of the properties of paper.
February 3, 2011 at 23:21 |
I picked up on something in your first response:
> "project task lists"
I take it, then, that SF3 doesn't have any way to distinguish projects. I think you're going to find that those who are still active in the business world sometimes will have the type of job that requires the juggling of multiple mult-task projects. Those tasks cannot be scattered among "normal" tasks. So, if I surmise correctly, then SF3 will not work for a lot of people.
February 3, 2011 at 23:27 |
Matt, that's as easy as naming the project in your AF page. Put the details in the back of your looseleaf binder!
February 4, 2011 at 0:28 |
That really doesn't help, Alan, because I cannot see with one glance how much of the project is done or what is left to do.
Suppose my boss calls: "Matt, where are we on the XYZ project?" If the tasks are scattered about, I cannot easily tell. I have multiple projects going on and I can easily confuse them if I'm not careful.
So, your solution won't work in this type of scenario.
February 4, 2011 at 0:43 |
"Matt, where are we on the XYZ project?"
I guess you'd refer to the project documentation. I presume you document your projects and don't just wing it.
February 4, 2011 at 0:51 |
Our projects are very short-lived. There isn't an official documentation as you see in longer projects with multiple people working on them. I'm the only one working on the project. But, the projects have many, many steps.
So, my documentation is my task list. If it's scattered, it is of no use.
February 4, 2011 at 1:07 |
Maybe you already have a good approach Matt?
I think you misread me. All stuff for project X is on page X in the back. If a boss came to ask the status, yes I could tell him at a glance. This is much better than what I read you to be saying, having all the project stuff scattered across task pages or squeezed in the lines who knows which page it's on.
Actually I guess you've got it figured out and it works much better than my first impression.
Ditto to my approach and your impression.
February 4, 2011 at 1:32 |
I think you got confused in my back and forth with Mark about his comments regarding the complexity of loose-leaf pages with which I disagree. He made a comment that with loose-leaf you have all these project pages (which IS what I do - but they are in front not in back like you). Because he stated this as a negative, I surmised then that SF3 did not use project pages. And, if I am correct, then it won't work for me.
I do 80 - 100 projects a year as a fair market value consultant. Each project has about 20 steps that are the same regardless of the project. Then, as the valuation progresses many tasks specific to the analysis arise. And, I can have as many as 20 projects working simultaneously. Then, I have many outstanding calls to vendors, clients, and research contacts and I have no control over when they call me. I have many interruptions. So, I have to have the project tasks together.
I not certain that SF3 is going to work in my environment.
February 4, 2011 at 2:14 |
No version of Autofocus involved project pages. Doesn't mean we can't use them where necessary.
February 4, 2011 at 3:27 |
I use a looseleaf notebook from Atoma since a couple of weeks. It is quite small, comparable to the Moleskine pocket book, and it is not thicker due to their ring system. I like that format, I can carry it everywhere. I changed from Moleskine because I need in addition to my master list both project lists and person lists (what do I have to discuss with person X when I get him or her).
I agree that there is tendency to make things complicate - but as Alan says, basis it the master list, there you can put in reminders to work on a project or to call a person, and then you can go into the back of the notebook and have everything in place. And that was scattered on various places before I had the ring binder - now I have a place where I can find these things reliably. And that is in my view the big advantage of a looseleaf notebook.
Of course, real project management and calender is done anyway on my computer.
February 4, 2011 at 8:44 |
In the days when I was running thirty to forty fund raising campaigns a year, plus coaching around ten people at a time, plus writing a book, plus giving talks and seminars almost every day of the week, it would never in my wildest dreams have occurred to me that the place to keep my project documentation should be my task list.
February 4, 2011 at 11:14 |
I wish Moleskine would come up with a flexible filing system, but suspect they would not like to damage the current image of bound notebooks, even though some have removeable tear-out pages.
I think the size of the 'large' Moleskines is ideal for many of us, as are the pocket ones when out and about. I think they could do some nice binders and covers and retain the paper quality.
Would it be so much of a risk to try? They seem to have branced out into themed notebooks, eg Peanuts,
Everyone else: what come through to me in the last few posts is that most of us have something that does work for us as individuals, and that's more important than any other issue. The common basis is AF is its various formats.
February 4, 2011 at 11:53 |
Actually I think what Moleskine achieved was to remind us all what a useful tool a simple notebook is.
February 4, 2011 at 12:43 |
I take your comment to mean that you either:
1– did not keep your tasks in any kind of AF, or
2– for each project task, you not only wrote the task, but you also either wrote the project name or the project id with the task.
I suspect it was #1.
I do have project documentation. It is a 8.5x11 card stock printed on both sides. On the front it has project name, client contact info, vendor/contractor contact info, summary of agreement terms, summary of agreement services to value, notes about the arrangement not found in the agreement. On the back it has a place to write down questions to be asked and a place to track where the project is in *broad* terms.
But, having that doesn't help me see exactly where I am and whet needs to be done today. There's quite a bit of distance between the tracking points in the documentation. Having all related projects on one page meets that need.
And, I can rarely fit all of my associated project tasks on one page. If I were using a fixed-leaf notebook, I would be faced with either 1) project tasks scattered throughout or 2) project pages separated from one another. Neither is a good solution.
Note: Not all of my tasks are project tasks. I do have a list of tasks that is operated AF1-style. Project pages are listed first, then the "normal" AF1 list. In the morning I read over all my tasks and flag those that stick out no matter where they appear. These form my initial closed list.
What I'm doing is not that much different that what you proposed in AF4R. In that system the specialized pages could get full and they could become separated.
All of this leads back to the argument of loose-leaf paper. I do not see the *horror* of using it. I'm amazed at the claims of the loss of productivity by time spent arranging loose-leaf pages. I haven't seen an argument yet that I am convinced the premises are true much less the conclusion. I don't see how the nature of loose-leaf *causes* a loss in productivity or is complicated.
If I were forced to fixed-leaf notebooks, then I would definitely lose productivity.
February 4, 2011 at 14:31 |
<< What I'm doing is not that much different that what you proposed in AF4R. In that system the specialized pages could get full and they could become separated.>>
I don't remember writing that.
<< If I were forced to fixed-leaf notebooks, then I would definitely lose productivity. >>
I'm not trying to persuade you to use a fixed-leaf notebook, let along trying to force you to use one. I'm simply stating that in my experience a fixed-leaf notebook encourages a simple approach and a loose-leaf notebook encourages a more complicated one. If you prefer a more complicated approach that is fine by me.
February 4, 2011 at 14:41 |
I think the real question at hand is whether Matt's situation can be adequately handled with a fixed-leaf notebook. Matt seems persuaded that he must be able to add and remove pages in order to succeed.
In the face of project documentation that starts on one page, then grows to two or three, I can't imagine what a fixed notebook solution would be to keeping project documentation together.
Indeed, alphabetical projects, stored in a binder is a great simple approach. Managing the same in a notebook seems to require a complicated approach.
February 4, 2011 at 15:49 |
@Mark - I presume you document your projects and don't just wing it.
Oh so THAT'S where I am going wrong :-)
Seriously though - I had no idea I would ruffle quite so many feathers with this question! It seems the world is very much polarised into loose lead and bound notebook users!
Mark - I would be interested in learning how you managed your projects. I find this a bit of a challenge at the moment, as some of mine overlap a bit.
February 4, 2011 at 16:02 |
Thanks for asking the question I had. Mark how did you manage those projects and how did it relate to the time management tool you were using?
I manage real estate projects and they could never be managed within a hard bound notebook, which I am using. there are budgets, schedules, plans, lease etc which are frequently odd sizes. I just put the high level stuff into the TM system and have to keep project files on a computer and in large redwell files.
February 4, 2011 at 16:11 |
The question seems to have changed.
It was originally "Does anyone use loose leaf for their task management lists?" which is the question I've been endeavouring to answer.
Now we seem to be talking about an entirely different subject - project management.
As far as managing projects is concerned I had a separate file for each person/organisation/event, which contained all the project documents. I also made a lot of use of standardised forms to keep track of actions taken. If I was managing other people then I would also have lists of what actions were down to which people and by when. In the early days I had a day book in which I recorded notes of all phone calls, but increasingly my contacts used email, so I discontinued this.
I could have used any time management system with this, or none. Project management is, or should be, independent of time management.
February 4, 2011 at 16:38 |
Thank for this Mark. I guess there is a connection in my mind because I tend to keep my project papers in my loose leaf binder, so it connects in that way to my time management list. Anyway it's give me some more ideas. Perhaps I should seek out a project management forum to compliment what I am learning on this time management one!
Many thanks for your hard work and interraction Mark - it's certainly appreciated.
February 4, 2011 at 16:55 |
"All about time management and personal organisation" should cover projects. It's just not been the emphasis the past two years.
February 4, 2011 at 17:16 |
I indeed agree with Mark when he says "I'm simply stating that in my experience a fixed-leaf notebook encourages a simple approach and a loose-leaf notebook encourages a more complicated one. " It's absolutely true. Our natural tendency is to make things complicated. But look at the best businessmen or very famous personalities you will notice that they often have a very simple system.
From my own experience as a passionate of time management and personal organization I realize that when things are separated and well identified everything is simple and doable.
Then projects must be separated from context or AF list,
then as said MF "As far as managing projects is concerned I had a separate file for each person/organisation/event, which contained all the project documents. I also made a lot of use of standardised forms to keep track of actions taken. If I was managing other people then I would also have lists of what actions were down to which people and by when. In the early days I had a day book in which I recorded notes of all phone calls, but increasingly my contacts used email, so I discontinued this".
For myself I as I am getting older (I will be 49 on feb the 14th ) I do things the most simply I can. Project for all as a .page file (on mac) no file management system, autofocus 4 revised or others on a little notebook i can carry everywhere, a good ical diary, a good mail management system (I use apple mail) and that 's all folks.
Because every system as only one purpous - DO THINGS. So when things are getting complicated i always think that the disaster is not very far away. And loose leaf contributes for me to make things complicated because we always want to make things rational. But they aren't.
February 4, 2011 at 17:19 |
I think the issue for many is that PM requires TM skills. My hardbound notebook has actions that relate to projects and the people involved in them, but obviously can not contain all of the projects steps and information. I think many people wrestle with the issue of how to blend the two disciplines of PM and TM in the real world. For me it is having a simple notebook with as much written in one place along with files, which of course contain many project files.
Regarding the loose leaf, I never really liked LL I did at one point like notebooks like spirals with perforated pages, but now and using a hard back book and it just contains tasks and no notes, this has been better and simpler.
February 4, 2011 at 17:35 |
I'm still flabbergasted at the word "complicated" being associated with Loose-Leaf. I've actually laughed out loud several times.
Thanks for the chuckles.
February 4, 2011 at 18:39 |
>I don't remember writing that.<
In reply to my having said:
> What I'm doing is not that much different that what you proposed in AF4R. In that system the specialized pages could get full and they could become separated.<
In your rules for AF4R you state:
>Start by heading three successive pages of your notebook "New", "Recurring" and "Unfinished" respectively.<
Those are specialized pages and if they get full without everything being crossed off, then a second page of those specialized pages will get separated from the first by the other tasks that had been entered in the interim.
I submit that my statement wasn't off the mark at all.
February 4, 2011 at 18:45 |
>Seriously though - I had no idea I would ruffle quite so many feathers with this question!<
My feathers aren't ruffled, I'm just totally amazed that anyone would make the claim that loose-leaf paper by it's essential nature makes task management more complicated or would make a person sit there rearranging paper over and over causing neglect of actual work. That claim floors me.
February 4, 2011 at 19:00 |
<< "All about time management and personal organisation" should cover projects. It's just not been the emphasis the past two years. >>
No, time management and personal organisation should cover time management and personal organisation. Running projects is a task within time management. It's no more the job of time management to tell you how to run a project than it is to tell you how to write an email or to service your car or bake a cake or any one of the thousands of other tasks which you might put on your list.
February 4, 2011 at 19:22 |
To me, organizing project information is an aspect of personal organization.
Of course your slogan means only what you intend it to mean, as Lewis Carroll wrote. So if I rightly understand you now, it's not in scope.
February 4, 2011 at 20:01 |
> No, time management and personal organisation should cover time management and personal organisation. Running projects is a task within time management. <
So, doing personal tasks is time management, but doing tasks within a project is not time management? Only the project itself as a whole is in the domain of time management and not the individual tasks thereof?
February 4, 2011 at 20:04 |
<<<So, doing personal tasks is time management, but doing tasks within a project is not time management?>>>
It depends what you mean by "project".
David Allen defined it very broadly as any group of 2 or more related tasks. You seem to be using a similar definition.
I think Mark's definition would be closer to the dictionary definition, "a planned undertaking" (Merriam-Webster), or as Wikipedia defines it, "a project in business and science is a collaborative enterprise, frequently involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim".
The latter definition fits well with the examples Mark gave of the kinds of projects he is working on.
This definition is far more specific and involves far more than merely managing one's own task list.
February 4, 2011 at 20:54 |
The question has often been posted in regard to AF and its derivatives: "Should enter project tasks on my list, or should I just enter 'Project X' on my list?"
The answer has always been "it depends".
Sometimes it's enough to just have "Project X" on the list. When you work on that, you pull out your project card or folder or sheet or OneNote page, and do whatever needs to be done.
Sometimes, especially for small urgent tasks that are related to a project, it's also helpful to enter those small urgent tasks directly onto the list to give them extra emphasis. E.g., "Call Bill RE Project X". This can replace the "Project X" entry, or be added to the list in addition to the "Project X" entry -- whatever works for you.
Some people seem to want to strictly apply GTD's "Next Action" rule, and only put the Next Action on the AF list, keeping everything else separate. If that works for you, great, but there's no need to make this a strict rule.
Matt seems to want to make it a rule to keep ALL project tasks in his single master list -- by employing loose-leaf project sheets that he can move around within his overall master list. I think Alan Baljeu was doing something similar in OneNote. Personally it sounds pretty interesting and if it works for you, great. I tried something similar and it didn't work for me, and found myself re-arranging the pages and trying to set it up to work more smoothly without always having to think about it -- the trap that Mark mentioned, which Matt is so "amazed" about. I like keeping project material more separated so the main list preserves a consistent framework and order so it's fast and easy to process.
February 4, 2011 at 21:06 |
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