The Today Card

In my last post, I mentioned a little something I call my “Today Card”. Here is a bit more about how that works.

I keep an index card with three simple things I would like to accomplish for the day written on it. I keep this on my desk next to my laptop. Why? Well, when you have a time sucking, life consuming, attention draining source enter your life (referred to by some as a “baby“), allowing a low expectation bar for yourself can go a long way towards sanity. Being able to pick some low hanging fruit off of a otherwise full and getting more so action tree is a Good Thing™. Of course, I am lucky if I am able to accomplish any one of those three things but if I am able to get at least two done, I feel like I have done something to move life a little bit forward.

The other advantage is that it gives me a ready scratch pad as I use the rest of the whitespace on the card to capture notes, phone numbers, and other like incoming items. At the end of the day, I move any undone items from the original three to the card for the next day, add more to equal three on that card, and then toss the old card into my Inbox or Circa for processing the random notes, incoming actions, phone numbers, and such if there are any.

Having this simple list at the ready helps to draw quick focus for the few minutes I may be able to steal here and there.

How I’m Workin’ The Circa -or- GTD, Baby, and Levenger Makes Three

As many a reader of this journal knows, I am a big fan of Levenger’s products. I love them. Covet may even be a more apt word. I recently noticed, while placing yet another order with them, that they are celebrating their 20th anniversary. It was then that I realized I have been a customer for almost 18 of those. My first order from them was a Lap Desk which I still own to this day. They happened to be running a promotion at the time that gave me a free pack of their Cornell ruled pads with my order. While I was more than happy with the Lap Desk, the Paper Pads were a revelation to me. I was a young man of 22 years old who had never even thought about the satisfaction that could come from writing on nice paper. Let’s just say, I never looked back and have been hooked ever since.

In addition, I have been on paternity leave from my main job since the birth of my daughter last Month. As anyone with children knows, at this stage, your to-do list mainly consists of “Feed baby”, “Change Baby” and, perhaps the hardest item “Baby is sleeping. Now what?”. It is that “Now What?” where the methods espoused in Getting Things Done really come into play. You see, you have about one hour, maybe two, before she wakes up. When she does, you will really be unable to pay attention to anything else. The house may be a wreck. There may be calls to return or errands to run or doctors appointments to be made. It is in these moments that having been capturing these items into a trusted system and organizing them by context gives you the best insight into how to use that “free” time.

How do these two things relate? Well, since I am not “working”, the number of things I have to track has become more simple. That being said, there are still many things I have to stay on top of, and some brainstorming for my consulting business I have been trying to take the time to do. Also, these days I often only have use of one hand (since the other has a baby in it). This makes using the computer for capture, notes and project tracking difficult. Paper on the other hand is faster, only requires one hand for writing and therefore is just plain better. One Levenger product has really helped me stay on top of my Org-fu in the last few weeks is my Junior Sized Circa Notebook. The Circa Notebook system is designed so that it is highly customizable and pages can be moved around and mixed and matched with a ton of add ons and such. I wont go into a long detail about that here. Levenger has plenty of that information on their site.  Here is how I have mine organized…

I have the notebook divided into three sections using some of the plain white dividers available from Levenger.

* Action: The front section is for Action Items and Capture. I keep things open to this page most of the time while on my desk and a pen at the ready.

* Notes: The notes section is for notes and where I flesh out projects. I also have a page marker for my Circa that gets used here. Active projects and notes go in front of the marker, non-active go behind. This way, I know that anything between the section divider and the page marker in the notes section is in play.

* Archive: When my Action items pages get mostly complete, I start a new one free of completes items. I move the old pages to the Archive.

* Back Section: In the rear of the book I have a clear pocket to hold loose items and ephemera such as stamps. I also have a 3×5 dock that I, in all honesty, have not really sussed a good use for yet. Finally, in the built in pockets of the leather cover, I keep a stencil and some extra 3×5 cards (will cover my use of these in a future post).

So, is there anyone else out there reading this using a Circa? I would love to hear in the comments about how you have yours set up and what you use it for. Share it people!

Click here for more pictures of my setup.


Taccia Staccato Based largely on my friend Ryan’s urgings, I finally made a visit to a pen store here in the Twin Cities called Ink. Three words… Completely Blown Away! Proprietor Barry Rubin has created, what has to be, one of the most amazing shopping experiences I have ever had. It is something I will remember forever.

There are a few unique things about shopping at Ink. In order to shop, you must make an appointment. Barry explained that he does this to give each shopper the personal service he strives to provide. When in the store, he is at your sole serivce, ready to answer any questions or grab any pen you wish to try.

Another thing is the selection. He has a vast assortment at every price point. You could walk in and spend $20.00 or $20,000.00 or anything in between. There really is something here for everyone. For me, I walked away with a Taccia Staccato (pictured above). Words simply can’t explain what a big beautiful pen this is. Extremely smooth to write with. As the Ink tag line says, this is “Art. Five inches tall.” (although this one is a bit larger than 5 inches).

Finally, the view. Ink is located on the 45th floor of the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis. One of the tallest buildings in the state. When you walk in the door of Ink on a clear day, you are met with a jaw dropping southward facing view that stretches for miles. It takes several minutes to simply take this all in before you even notice the store.

Barry has a true passion for pens. His passion shows in every detail. From the location, to the business model, to the hand written receipt. He provides not just a shopping experience, but an owning experience. He made me, the customer, feel like an old friend and gave me a true sense of ownership in a shared passion.

If you live in the area or plan to visit soon, you must make an appointment if for simply the view alone. Be warned though, it is hard not to get lost in the beauty of the fine five inch art that surrounds you. You will want to take home a work of your very own.

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