Following In My Father’s Footsteps: Hipster PDA

I realized on a short trip back home, that I’ve currently adopted a habit of my Dad. He’s an electrical engineer by training, and he picked up programming pretty early on. I still remember he actually used pocket protectors, built his own television, and proudly showed me his slide rules.

Anyway as early as I can remember my father carried around a .5 mm pencil and a little 3×5 spiral notebook. Lately I found myself frustrated with trying to track things on a Palm Pilot, a Mac, and a Dell laptop that blue screens about once a day. So I reverted to a, Hipster PDA, basically a stack of 3×5 cards with my lists on them.

After 3 weeks now it’s working pretty well. Of course this means I have to admit to myself that my Dad was onto something that I largely ignored for twenty odd years.

Management wise I find that keeping my major projects on an easy to modify 3×5 cards helps me stay on top of things. When you have 5 or 6 projects that comes in pretty handy. And because they’re always in sync reviewing them a few times a day is a lot easier which means I do it more often and stay on top of things better. I struggle a bit with it when I have 8 out of 10 items done on a card and I have to move the two items to a new card manually, but it does lead to another review.

The really nice thing is when I do a weekly review of everything I can spread out all my 3×5 project cards across my desk and get a good big picture idea of where I am. And the low tech 3×5 cards and lists fit in well with Agile ideas like information radiators, CRC cards, product backlogs, and adapting to changing priorities.