Istemi and others have expressed interest in my note-taking and to-do system, so I took some photos and put them up on Flickr.com for people to see. I also tagged them with some scroll-over points, to explain how the system works a little bit. I have to admit that I stole big chunks of the to-do system from some guy named Bill Westermann, and Mike Rohde. So far it’s working, as Lovelips can attest: I’ve even started showing up early to stuff. (Ok, well, at least on time, which is an improvement). I’ve also borrowed elements from David Gray’s system, although I really like his people-talking doodles, and I want to try making some of them in my next meeting.
If you click on any of the pictures below, it will take you to the Flickr site, where you will be able to see the pictures more readily, as well as read the various explanatory tags attached to the photos.
The core of the system is two moleskine notebooks, one a graph paper notebook (black), and a week-at-a-glance book (red). I also use a Levenger fountain pen with the system; although it’s not the best fountain pen I’ve ever owned, it does function.
The Date Book
The Date Book looks like this inside, with a page on the left showing the week at a glance, and the page on the right showing various to-do items that have to be completed by certain days. I’m starting to use color in this system, with Red for various ‘holy day’ events, Orange for profession meetings and issues, Blue for health-and-fitness related stuff, Green for personal stuff, and Black for school scheduling changes. This page doesn’t show that completely, but it’s getting there.
To-Do List Book: Indexing
I color in blocks of the graph paper along the edge of the book to represent various themes. It’s possible for me to multi-file items in my Moleskine by filling in more than one block at a time. These enable me to find specific pages more rapidly and clearly.
At bottom left are a bunch of icons which I use to label specific items on a page, like a website, a book I want to read, a spiritual insight, or whatever. There are more of these on the next page.
To-Do List Book:
The to-do list consists of a box next to each item. Important items get a dot in them, representing a priority. Finished items get a check-mark. Items I decide not to do get an X through them; items I defer to another day get a horizontal line and a new ‘due’ date. If I delegate it to someone else, it gets a D in the box; if I make progress on an item but don’t finish, I put a P in the box. If I need tools I don’t have, I put a T in the box, and add “get X tools” to the to-do list.
You can also see a bunch more of my icons for the note-taking pages. I tend to start writing to-do lists at the front of the book, and notes from the back of the book. The built-in ribbon of the book always goes at the end of the to-do list. I use extra Post-It notes at the front of the notes section, and on any pages that seem particularly critical. I store extra Post-it flags at the back of the book, on the pocket.
That’s pretty much it.