Podcast #42:Personal Punchcards Redux

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Podcast #42:Personal Punchcards Redux

Post by reinhard » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:59 am

At long last, another podcast episode:


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Thanks Reinhard

Post by Chance » Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:07 am

Looking forward to it, thanks Reinhard!

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Post by Aprilsparrow » Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:46 pm

Thanks Reinhard!
I home school my son who is 12 and this would be a great way to teach him time management and about taking care of his school assignments. While still having time to do the personal things he likes to do. I was also thinking if someone did not want to use a index card they could take a lined piece of paper and put lines on it to represent three days.

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Post by idontknow » Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:46 am

you don't need a computer. Not for commanding your soul.
Lovely phrases - thank you.

I constantly look at time management computer programmes and they are just too complicated. It is so easy to get bogged down in what goes on which list... This is very simple - I will give it a try.

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Post by kccc » Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:07 pm

Interesting podcast. I still use index cards (mine are blue, so they are special and stand out) for tasks after trying it the first time around.

Can I ask why you went from 3 columns to two, dropping the "routine" areas? That column seems really important to me, and I am curious as to your thinking on that.

Look forward to the next ones in the series!

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Post by reinhard » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:52 pm


I'm glad you're still finding the cards useful!

I went down to 2 columns for a couple of reasons:

1. Logic: "Work" and "personal" are two logically distinct spheres of activity. They make sense to juxtapose. "Routines" could logically apply to one or the other. They aren't really a separate category. It seem intellectually cleaner to me to stick work routines in the work column, personal routines in the personal column, along with the other tasks. Also it preserves that visual work/life balance check.

2. Hubris: 3 columns was giving me just a little too much rope to hang myself with in terms of excessive ambition. If I wasn't careful, my pace would become unsustainable. I've found that 2 columns encourages a more humane (and productive!) long term cadence.

But of course, if 3 columns works for you that's great. I was quite happy with it for several years. And I may have a little more hubris than most to keep in check. :-)


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Post by kccc » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:37 pm

Thanks - that makes sense. Good to know you've just MOVED things, not dropped them.

I think I'll keep the separate one for now, because it holds the "basic self-care" things that can get lost in the shuffle if I'm not careful. No-S goes in my routines column, as well as exercise and things of that nature.

If anything, I'll work on being stricter about not biting off more than I can chew. I rarely get ALL the tasks on my list (usually 1-3 left), and I think addressing that issue would give me the most benefit right now. (Hmm... of course, the two may be related... I'll think on that.)

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It works!

Post by krawford13 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:42 pm

I have tried this in the past and I was incredibly organized and efficient. I even taught my daughter to do it. Glad you brought this back up because I am going to start over again. Haven't used this method in over a year and you can tell in my personal life and work life.

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Post by MD » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:12 pm

Thanks for an update on Personal Punch Cards!

I have been following your system for years now, and appreciate your new podcast's emphasis on
A) 2 vs. 3 columns, and on
B) how you consider a "to-do" on the front of the cards to be a contract with yourself.

It strikes me how interrelated A) and B) are:
My past cards had a pretty low percentage of finishing all my lined-side to-do list items. One fewer column means few total possible items, so I will now be less likely to over-commit. Really thinking about whether I am committing to completing a to-do should result in items I am less serious about ending up on the back of the cards.

Also, I like the fact that weekends now will not have a little-used "work" column; this means more time to recharge my batteries

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Post by automatedeating » Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:03 pm

I just started using this system (I've completed one week), and thought I'd bump up this thread to see if anyone else is using these cards and if they have any mods or tweaks.

My comments at this point:
1. Index cards are not "cute" and they lack visual appeal to me (compared to say, a nice 5X7 journal). However a journal is too tall and too thick and doesn't lay flat. I need the immediate access to the contents that an index card provides.
2. My teaching schedule is really on a flow of two days planning that makes it far more effective for my planning to use one foot-soldier card for Monday/Tuesday, one for Wednesday/Thursday, and one for Friday/Saturday/Sunday. This seemed to work for me this week (the card was not overly full)..... does that raise red flags?
3. The Officer card has basically become a 2 column card; one per week. It has my shopping list in one column (I only go to the store on Saturday or Sunday), and tasks in the other column. Does this seem unusual? Again, it worked this week just fine. The only problem is that I have to write quite a few things onto the new Officer card since I use 1/week, rather than 1/2 weeks.
4. How do girls carry their cards? Right now I am just putting it next to my cell phone in a very tiny purse.
5. Essential to carry a pencil with this system, so that I can add things immediately.
1/16-26.9; 9/16-25.6
8/17-25.8; 11/17-26.9
3/18-25.6; 8/18-24.5; 10/18-23.8;
3/19-22.1; 10/19-21.8
6/20-22.5; 7/20-23.0; 9/20-23.6
4/21 - 25.2

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When is #45 expected?

Post by MD » Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:16 am

Here is a mod/tweak to personal punch cards that I have been using with good results for some time:
-instead of no line down the middle of my index cards on weekends, I keep the line on weekends.
-on weekdays, the line separates Work and Personal
-on weekends, for me (here is what's new) the line separates Not Fun (NF) from Fun (F)
-I like to do this because when I'm thinking about what to do next on a weekend, I find I get more of my Not Fun stuff done if I first do the Not Fun task then do the Fun one. For example, I first do a Not Fun task like like clean the house, go to the bank, or pay bills, then reward myself with a Fun task, like write in my journal, go for a walk, or read.

By the way, when is #45 coming along? Not the 45th president - that US election is in Nov. 2016 - I mean the 45th podcast!

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Post by reinhard » Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:37 pm

I like the mods!

I've made another slight tweak myself: instead of W for work and P for personal, I do first column L for life, second column W for work. Taps into that "work/life" balance meme better, and by putting life in the first column I'm a) making a statement that when all is said and done Life takes priority and b) on weekends the only column (Life) will be in the same position as usual.

I'd love to do another episode -- unfortunately I've been way to busy to even consider it these last few months. Hard to know where to fit my everyday systems activities in terms of work and life!

I am very grateful for your interest, however! So thank you!


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Post by MD » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:30 am

Reinhard -
In case you weren't aware: did you know this neat way to draw the line down the very middle of the 3" x 5" index card?

1. Take out two index cards. Line up the bottom-most blue line of the first card with the left or right edge (in landscape orientation) of the second index card.
2. Make a small mark where the topmost line (the red line, on my cards) meets the top line of the second card.
3. Make another small mark where the red line meets the bottom line of the second card.
4. Use a ruler, or the edge of the first index card, as a straight-edge to draw a line between the two marks to neatly divide the second card in half.

This works because the 10 spaces between index card lines measures 2.5 inches - exactly half the width of a 3" x 5" card. Not to get too philosophical, however there is a mathematical elegance to this that I am still pondering.

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