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Upgraded my hPDA

Six or seven Christmases ago, my mom bought me a Personal Digital Assistant; nothing fancy, just a basic model she thought I would like. It didn’t work, and I kept losing the data I entered into it. Likewise the replacement unit the company sent me. Likewise the replacement they sent after the second unit also failed. It just wasn’t meant for me to carry around a PDA. I stuck with my big old clunky organizer for another few years, and then I discovered the wonder that is the Hipster PDA. According to creator Merlin Mann,

The Hipster PDA (Parietal Disgorgement Aid) is a fully extensible system for coordinating incoming and outgoing data for any aspect of your life and work. It scales brilliantly, degrades gracefully, supports optional categories and “beaming,” and is configurable to an unlimited number of options. Best of all, the Hipster PDA fits into your hip pocket and costs practically nothing to purchase and maintain.

The basic model hPDA consists of a stack of index cards held together by a small binder clip. You can have your system up and running with an investment of about $1.35. Since shortly after the hPDA’s debut, a number of upgrade features have been available, including some printer-ready templates for to-do lists, calendars, and other specialty cards. D*I*Y Planner in particular has a good selection of hPDA templates, although I have generally been content to create a four-month calendar using iCal that, folded in quarters, fits perfectly. That and a couple of colored cards for quick data organization have given me a lightweight, versatile tool that I’ve been using for a couple of years now.

This weekend I finally took the plunge and updated to a more powerful and esthetically pleasing model, for a total investment of $18.92. (In fact, I had a $15 Staples coupon, so it really only cost me about $4.) Here’s what it is:

1. An M by Staples™ Black Leather Jotter. This leather card case is about the size of a large wallet. On the right side it has a place for a stack of 3×5 cards; on the left it has a pocket for additional cards plus a slot for business cards. There is additional card-storage available in a pocket behind the main card stack and on the case’s exterior.

2. A Zebra Telescopic ball point pen. This pen fits in the Jotter’s interior pen loop. It is collapsible; when you need to write with it, it telescopes to the size of a normal pen, but it collapses to a very manageable pocket size when you’re ready to put it away.

Now I store my blank cards in the stack on the right. On the left I keep a colored card as a divider. In front of the divider are cards with data I need to process later; behind the divider are “permanent” cards that are updated rather infrequently. These include my aforementioned fold-out calendar and the current card for my daily Bible reading schedule. When I’m away on long business trips, I can store extra blank cards in the outside pocket and tuck away receipts in the inside right pocket.

Do any of you use a do-it-yourself planner? How do you use it? What kinds of pages or cards have you found most helpful?

Also, are you aware of any good templates for Christian-themed pages or cards? Prayer list? Sermon notes? Worship planning?

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