Writing cards in daily life

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Great habit of collection.

A first step the PoIC is to collect all of our thought in the dock.

Record Card first

I used to feel difficulty with start writing every single morning. Consciously or subconsciously, whatever. I used to spent long time to start writing with thinking "what I should write...". In terrible case, I couldn't write anything.

One day, I found there is a tip to overcome it. The answer is simple : just start writing. Anything is o.k. All I need is just pick up a pen and card, and start.

But same time, if I say "let's start writing", I feel a certain resistance. Rather, I say for myself "let's start from diary". More precisely, I start from a weather of the day, like "Fine", "Cloudy" etc. In Japanese, it is just two or three letters (晴れ or くもり). Then record what happen in the morning, say "got up 7:00" "arrive at office 8:30", on the same card. It's not difficult, too. Just describe without thinking. This card should be classified Record Card. This way, I fill a first card of the day.

Discovery Cards come next

In fact, a 5x3 index cards is too small to write all about the morning. So the diary is quite short, really just a record. My case I write the first card of the day at office. I get some ideas on a way office. While writing the diary, it triggers what I've been thinking. So just after the Record Card, I write the ideas on individual Discovery Cards. Sometime I take 30 minutes to do this. The idea is not only about work, but also about life. Because discovery generates new discovery. I call this as avalanche writing. An important thing is what trigger the avalanche is just a tiny record, diary.

I keep this habit on week day. Now I can say I'm a state of "Pavlov’s dog". When I sit down at office, I immediately pick up an index card, and write a diary. No effort, no resistance. A single Record Card + average five Discovery Cards. Over hundred index cards per month only with this. Now you won't surprise why my dock is filled by many index cards.

Always accumulating

Ref. : Self Help, by Samuel Smiles, 1900.

"The practice of writing down thoughts and facts for the purpose of holding them fast and preventing their escape into the dim region of forgetfulness, has been much resorted to by thoughtful and studious men. Lord Bacon left behind him many manuscripts entitled “Sudden thoughts set down for use.” Erskine made great extracts from Burke; and Eldon copied Coke upon Littleton twice over with his own hand, so that the book became, as it were, part of his own mind. The late Dr. Pye Smith, when apprenticed to his father as a bookbinder, was accustomed to make copious memoranda of all the books he read, with extracts and criticisms. This indomitable industry in collecting materials distinguished him through life, his biographer describing him as “always at work, always in advance, always accumulating.” These note-books afterwards proved, like Richter’s “quarries,” the great storehouse from which he drew his illustrations.

Use field note as idea capturer

Many self-help books, productivity books points out a walking is good for thinking (e.g. 渡部 1976, 野口 1993). Also we find many discoveries, questions while walking. The field note is to capture them all. It is a radar of our interest. I take memo on the field note when it emerge, when I saw it. Then I can forget about them for a while. And use remaining energy to another think, another discovery.

When I go out, I always wear the field note. I slip it in a pocket of a shirt. Perhaps it sounds weired, I take note anytime, anywhere, even in a crowded train, even in a crowded street. I don't hesitate to take note.

How to use field note

Same writing rules are applied for a field note as well.

  • Chronological order : Write everything in order it emerges. Life, work, complicated idea, simple idea.
  • Four Icons : Record, Discovery, GTD, and Reference.
  • Time stamp : I put date stamp on top of every page with rubber stamp. Time stamp is made sometimes. I interpolate time when I copy to index cards. Again, accuracy is not so important. Rather, uniqueness is a key to define absolute name.
Writing format of the field note. Same writing rule as for index cards. See also note @ flickr

The field note is temporal. Later, I copy almost all topics to index card. A check-mark beside topics with pigment pen means "copied to index card". Simple GTDs (to-dos) are processed in the field note without copying to index card.

The picture above was taken five months ago according to the date stamp. After five months later, now, I still use exactly same writing format. It may be comfort to me.

The four icons are useful for anything. I use them for memo on reading book, too.

Graffiti on the field note

As you see in the picture above, my letter on the field note is quite dirty. But it's o.k. A press man or stenographer has a special manner of rapid writing. This graffiti is something like that.

By allowing graffiti on the field note we can capture idea more rapidly. Also the field note is temporal, virtual memory in the PoIC. We don't need to pay attention to write better letter.

field note as Virtual Memory

Division of an index cards and field note can be easily understood through a metaphor on computer.

brain = CPU / field note = Virtual Memory (HDD) / index cards+Dock = HDD

Main use of the field note in the PoIC method is temporal idea capturer. Almost all topics on the field note will be copied to index cards and stored in the dock later. Simple to-dos, buying toilet paper for example, are processed on field note without copying to index cards.

The field note reduce an effort to remember/remind stuffs. It helps to increase one's brain usage as Central Processing Unit (CPU). Our brain could work as vaporous, if we have reliable virtual memory and HDD behind.