I have always liked the idea of a proper notebook, nonbranded and plain inside - use it for whatever I fancy. I was given a Moleskine as a Christmas present and for a couple of years I used it now and then to jot down the odd note and plan, but I never really 'used' it as such.
Years later I find myself using 'Getting Things Done' or GTD technique and had been quite happy using online systems such as 'Remember The Milk (RTM). However, it came to me that in order to get things done in my life when using an online tool I had to actually be online. If something came to me while I happened to be out or anywhere away from the computer then I had to either try to remember it (that kind of went a bit against the GTD idea) or jot it down somewhere. Infact, even if I was online, I would have to stop what I was doing, switch over to a web browser, load up RTM (a lot of the time this would be in a tab already loaded in Firefox though), go to the correct page and then write it down in there. After all that, I would find my concentration had broken and so off to get a cup of coffee before I carry on. What I was then really looking for was something that could be with me all the time, at hand, would not distract, and would be able to take both formal and quick informal scribbles. The idea of either my aging Psion Series5 or my Visor Handspring seemed good ideas.
The Psion I had used loads of times for similar things, back through the years from early Series 3 it had done very well. However, the screen and the keyboard was never really that easy to use. As much as I had fought it over the years, it was always a lot quicker to jot things down with a pen and paper. The Hanspring Palm I had switched to from the Psion and it was fantastic. But again, I found it quicker at times to use pen and paper to quickly jot things down, attempting to do the same on the Palm and its shorthand meant re-writing letters over and over again. My handwriting is never too good, so a computer had little chance!
I then picked up my Moleskine and started to use it to jot down those quick things and at the end of the day I would 'sync' it up with RTM, copy all the new thoughts and things from the Moleskine to RTM where they would then be handled.
This lasted a couple of weeks but all the time I seemed to be fighting the online way of doing things. At work it was all fine, in front of the computer all day everything was there for me. But at home I would have to turn the computer on, sit at a desk and look at RTM. It seemed all a bit over the top and long way round for doing things when all I wanted to do was to quickly look up a date or check something or tick off an item on one of my lists. With all that in mind, I then used the Moleskine a lot more as a kind of "offline" RTM where I would write down and tick things off a list and then 'sync' if up with the real RTM the next day at work. Pointless!
So I finally thought my "digital urge" and decided to go "retro" with PDAs! I decided to look up the numerous web pages on using Moleskines (or indeed any notebook) to "Get Things Done", including numerous groups on flickr too. From it all, I came up with how I could in theory do everything I needed to do in a notebook, taking a bit from everyone and even including some of my own bits.
Since then I have used an "offline" PDA for a year and it is still going strong. It is with me all the time, I am able to quickly edit/add things to it using a method that is usable in any light conditions (ok, maybe not pitch black!), with any input device I can find nearby, and it doesn't take batteries or get viruses or do anything nasty!
So I am now ready to go through what I decided upon and how it all works. More to come.....