The PoIC is totally analog system. All I need is,
- 5x3 index cards
- Card box (dock)
This simplicity makes this system robust. I could find a box somewhere in my house. Then all I need is only index cards. Initial investment doesn't cost much more than $3. And this is a cost to start changing my life.
5x3 index cards
For the index cards, I use 5x3 quadrille index cards. I usually write 10 - 20 cards per day, and finish a pack (100 papers) in a week. Japanese writing is more compact than English, as a single Japanese character can represent a complex idea. English-speaking users of the system may prefer larger cards.
Why quadrille ?
Its grid gives base writing format. Compared with usual ruled index cards, the quadrille's vertical grid gives some kind of freedom. This is good when I include a sketch on a card. It is possible to write letters in both the quadrille and on the grid.
The grid at top edge plays an important role for tagging even you can put a tag without grid. The sequence of the tag shows a certain pattern in the Dock. My blog's sub title "cultural genetic code" is after this pattern. A beauty of the tag sometimes motivates and stimulates me to keep using this system.
Easy tag for U.S. index cards
U.S.’ quadrille index cards’ cut and grid is not always fixed. Discussion with Matt gives me an inspiration to solve this problem. This trick is base on Jan's idea for tagging that shown on her blog before.
I use 5 mm width highlighter instead of pigment pen and ruler to make procedure simpler and easier. The procedure is just in three steps.
- Slide a pile of plain index cards
- Leave one pen head width as margin.
- Make four lines with 1 mm spacing on the edge.
That’s all. The picture right is the example. Perhaps blue color is better for visibility. I finish this experiment in 20 seconds. Now you are ready to use any kind of index cards for PoIC.
I usually buy a lot of cards at once. Then I won't worry about how many catd stock remains. Worrying about card stock is something like worrying about the battery of a laptop PC.
Buying a lot of card stock is suggested by Umesao Tadao who introduced usage of cards for personal productivity improvement. In his book he suggested to buy 10,000 cards (!) at one time (p. 64). If one pile up 10,000 cards, it will be 1.8 m height. This surprising suggestion is frequently quoted by other productivity books, such as Chou Seiri Hou by Noguchi Yukio. For a personal system, however, Umesao's suggestion is difficult to actually do. So I usually buy 2,000 cards (20 packs) for the next six months.
Anyway, large stock is good for personal productivity. I applied Umesao's suggestion for other stationery goods, like field note, pen, clear file, project paper, etc. They won't cost as much as digital toys.
I stack all cards in a box. At a start of PoIC, you can use any kind of box. You may find a box made from paper, plastic, wood. In fact, I used to use plastic kitchen tray for temporal card holder.
When you are used to the PoIC, it is good to migrate larger and better box. I call this kind of box as "Dock". Because all cards gather to the Dock as small ships gather at coast. It will be more important when number of cards grow large. A card is piece by piece, and easy to lose. The dock prevents your cards from dissipating.
Correct's card box
A picture above is my dock at home. I use the Correct's card box. This is made from Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF). Three wooden partitions are included. It holds up to 1,500 cards (officially, 1,000 cards). I usually remove the box cover to see how many index cards inside. The dock is always "open-roofed".
I have been using a two dock system - one at my office (dock@office), and another at my home (dock@home). Both case, I put the dock on the desktop. If you want to keep your privacy, you can put the dock in a drawer.
One pocket rule
Noguchi (1993) claims a concept of "one pocket rule" on a file system. If one put something in a single pocket, we can find it in the pocket. On the other hand, if there are two or more pockets, one have to look all the pockets. It is better to limit the number of pockets. The Dock functions as the "one pocket". Gathering all cards in the dock habit makes us to avoid "where did I put that index card?" kind of problem. All I need is to look at the Dock, and then I will find it.
However, it is difficult to achieve this one pocket rule in analog system. It is impossible for us to take all cards all the time. In fact, Noguchi noted that he had never taken full advantage of the "one pocket rule" with his filing system. He own two filing systems, one in his office and another in home. Anyway, a number of pockets (here, the dock system) should be limited.
I try to track our life using index cards. The dock will be filled by what I see, feel, think, discover, do, hear, and read. This is much more than just a diary. It is almost a complete record of my life itself.