Employment Game

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Improve Your Personal Productivity With the Free Elmer PDA

Many of my readers wonder how I get it all done; the blog, the book, my successful career, a fulfilling love life.

Like most of you I struggle with the demands of modern living. If one has a family there are unending personal details that must be tracked and managed. Property, automobiles, and other sundry tasks pile up and must be dealt with efficiently or one rides an unceasing tide of avoidable crises. Even when you do it right you get impaled by the system. I have been locked in a multi-year struggle between 3 different state MVDs to get a valid license plate for my car after one of them misread a “V” on my vehicle identification number as a “U” which has snowballed into endless hassles from insurance companies and motor vehicle departments.

Yet I manage to handle the day-to-day trivialities and get things accomplished. Having always used lists to keep track of personal tasks I improved on the basic linear list format with this handy “PDA” that you can carry around in your pocket. It’s digital because you keep it on your computer and print it out when it gets used up or misplaced.

Now I know that many people have devised similar methods. If anyone has an identical version that is coincidence. Use my example and tweak it for your needs.

Feedback Helps Your Sense of Accomplishment

The salient features of my PDA are 1) it folds into a handy, readable pocket list 2) it provides a means to make small contributions to ongoing self-improvement goals.

The latter is crucial to making progress in those areas you want to grow such as entrepreneurship, physical fitness, personal finance, learning, and travel preparation.

I struggled with those things in my usual linear list format but that gave a poor sense of progress. Some personal efforts are measured in years. To simply write “go to gym” has no feedback, the critical element to any improvement system. Another problem is that you always have things to do and once done they get deleted. You always face that interminable list but probably get no sense of accomplishment.

But if you have an ongoing space for your goals you can add feedback in the form of a simple hash mark next to each self-improvement activity. Now you instead write “pushups” and every day that you knock out a set you just put a hashmark in groups of 5. After one or two weeks when you open your list you see that. If you don’t it gently reminds you to make some.

In our pushups examples, rather than an oppressive goal to get massive pecs you just prod yourself to do those daily increments that slowly adds up to results.

The ongoing personal tasks are still there but on a different page of your PDA. They will always be there and cannot be escaped. But this format moves them to a priority list that is easier to handle or puts them on a long-term list for continued management.

How to Get It

You can make your own in your favorite software. Presentation slide software such as Open Office Presentation or MS PowerPoint allows adding text boxes in a “paste-up” style. Paste-up means being able to arrange words and text anywhere on a page as opposed to a text editor or word processor. Word processors such as MS Word are horrible for paste-up.

Open Office is free and works fine for most of my documentation needs. Both Open Office Impress and Draw programs will do paste-up. I use Draw and Gimp constantly in my professional and trolling work.

Here is the Elmer PDA in Open Office Writer format. (I used Presentation to make it but wordpress will only upload Writer format. Open the PDA in Writer and copy the page into a Presentation file. You could also export it from Writer to your preferred software. The main thing is just the page-fold grid as shown, then add your lists to each panel.)

The Printer Layout

Here is how the pages are arranged on your computer. Print front and back on one sheet of paper.

elmerpdafront

elmerpdaback

It Folds Up For Easy Carry

The layout page for the list divides it into panels that become the book pages when you fold it up. Each book page is a list. The front page contains your lists of priorities for easy viewing without having to open up the entire paper. The back page contains a calendar and a list of important numbers such as emergency, cab, hotels, phone numbers, license plates etc. I even add some account info and social security numbers (coded of course).

pdapanel

Left : first fold, Middle : second fold showing feedback page, Right : inside fold Use hi-liters and colored pens to help prioritize tasks.

It Shows Feedback in One View

On the example front page are categories that work for me. The panels 1,2 are what makes it work. On the right are immediate priorities, those things you really need to get done. On the left are your long term process goals. That is where you log your daily efforts.

It Logically Orders Your Activities

The other categories are logically ordered for deeper inspection. The shopping list works nice for when you are at some store. Just flip it over and make it the outside of your list.

The two empty panels make for a blank outside and a handy place to write notes.

Hi-Liters Help You Prioritize

Using hi-liers and colored pens helps jog your memory and motivation to get specific tasks done when you glance at it.

A masculine pen grounds you into jotting down notes. I recommend the Uniball Impact 207 for it’s ergonomic balance and thick, satisfying ink flow. Guard this pen around your colleagues though or it will find a new home.

It’s a Babe Magnet

I have been approached by women who observed me staring pensively at my PDA while having coffee or some other social peacocking behavior. The printout format harkens to a more primitive time when when men grappled with tools and machinery rather than effeminate stroking of virtual keyboards. As if that weren’t enough, the blank panels provide a rugged, minimalist writing space for recording her phone number.

It has some drawbacks though. While it is great for managing personal tasks it is not so good for business projects. I tried but ended up with two separate PDAs, one for life and one for work, which defeated the simplicity feature. For work and business I have been using Scrivener for its great tree feature that makes project organization easy.

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This entry was posted on November 27, 2016 by in Productivity Tools and tagged , , , , , .
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