A writer's "Hipster"
It appears most of you started out developing your kit as an organization tool, with other aspects added on. Me, I started with a writer's notebook and gradually added in just a couple organization tools.
My need for 'portable' organization resources is very minor. I've always identified as a writer, even before I published anything, and so one of my requirement for a job is that it be just that: something that brings in money but that I basically don't have to think about outside office hours. My business organization stuff is completely separate from my Life organization stuff, and it kept at work.
What I always carried was notebooks, for the recording of inspirations and bits of overheard dialog and such, but mostly to turn stray chunks of time into writing time. Over the years, many types of notebooks were tried and found unsatisfactory. Elegant ones intimidated me, spiral bound notes got smushed and snagged on things, glued pads fell apart, composition notebooks didn't lie flat... I was picky, yes?
A few years back I started using index cards and I've never looked back. Well, you guys don't need to sing their praises, I'll just note that if you use them for an ongoing WIP like I do, the FIRST thing you write on the card MUST be the page number!
Here's my 'kit':
"Cover" -- I call it that, though it's rarely on the outside of the stack. It's main purpose is to ensure even thin stacks are stiff enough to write against easily. It's simply a piece of strawboard (from an old legal pad) cut to 3.25 X 5 inches.
To one side of this I glue-sticked a regular index card with my name/address/phone/email and an offer of an extravagent reward for returning the stack. Then I covered that side completely with clear contact paper. The other side was completely covered with contact paper, too, but this was a scrap of an attractive print. The printed contact paper laps over the edges to form a 1/2" border on the other side.
Halfway down each of the long sides I've cut a tiny v-notch, about an eighth of an inch deep. (This is the reason for the extra quarter inch of width.)
"Binding" -- One covered elastic 'pony tail' holder. About 79 cents for a dozen, I think it was. Method: stack all the cards, stretch the elastic onto them, settling it into the notches to make it less likely to get 'rolled' out of place.
"Contents" -- 90% are simply blank white index cards. (Does anyone know where I could buy ruled ones with the lines going the other way? As in portrait alignment?)
In addition, I carry a few 'stripers' and two 'pockets.'
Stripers: Lay an index card on a disposable sheet of paper. Using a magic marker (for brightness) or a highlighter, run it down the full length of both long sides creating a colored stripe on each edge. Turn the card over and repeat on the other side.
These stripers can be instantly picked out of a deck by 'splaying' it a bit. You could use colored index cards, obviously, but I find it a hassle to keep decks of many colors on hand.
I carry a single red striper every day. This is my To Do list. It goes, face out, on one end of my stack.
Underneath it goes a single green striper. Here I record financial transactions: cash withdrawals, debit card usage, cash borrowed or loaned, that kind of thing.
Underneath that goes a couple blue stripers. These are lists of stuff to buy, divided by types of stores: grocery, drug, hardware, etc.
This isn't for planned shopping trips, just if I happened to end up near an appropriate store.
I may or may not have some purple stripers -- these are for any urgent or unusual need.
"Pockets" -- Take two index cards and tape them together along both long sides and the 'bottom'. Try to use tape that is less tearable than scotch tape. I was able to "borrow" some cloth based 'bookbinders' tape for mine. Adhesive tape (like for bandages) might work well. For these I did use colored index cards, but I could have simply colored them.
My green pocket holds a folded blank check & a $20.
My blue pocket holds a half-dozen postage stamps and self-adhesive address labels.
I also have made red and yellow pockets, but they are used rarely.
The key, of course, is being systematic about the, er, system. EVERY night, right after I finish cleaning up the kitchen, I sit down at my desk and go through my stack.
Most green card info gets entered into my checkbook register then crossed off. Notes about cash loans stay on the card until repaid.
Any undone TODOs get written onto a new red striper, along with new tasks for the coming day.
If I've used something from the pockets I replenish them, and written-on white cards are removed and fresh ones added, and I'm all set for the next day.
After that, I open my WIP and start typing in everything I wrote on the white cards, and continue on for my regular writing session.
It's a very simple system, but it meets my needs.
I *could* take a picture of my stack, but a stack of index cards with an elastic around them? Does anyone really need to see that?
Update: In response to the requests, SusanBeth has uploaded a picture of her Hipster PDA. You can view it in the kit gallery. - DJ