Four Cards

From PoIC
Jump to: navigation, search

Let's explain how to use index cards. I introduce four kind of cards : Record, Discovery, GTD, and Cite. I found the four kinds is necessary and sufficient to express information inside/outside of me.

Record Card

Record Card (Enlarge)
  • Icon : Circle
  • Tag  : 2nd block

The "tag" is a filling one of block's top edge of index cards. The tag always starts from second block. The left-most block is margin and not used. I explain how it works in PoIC format.

The Record Card is any kind of subjective/objective records around us. I use this card for, diary (about life, work, dream), note, money account, health (body temperature, blood pressure, weight, diet), weather (temperature, humidity) etc.

Start from diary

To implement the PoIC in my life, the easiest way was to use it as a diary. Diary belongs to this Record Card. In fact, I start writing from diary every day, because it is the easiest way to tip my writing avalanche, even in daily unit.

Soon after, I found some "discovery" is included in a diary. Then I could extend the topics to an individual "Discovery Card".

Find long-term pattern

Each individual Record Card apparently contain less information. Perhaps record is sometimes only a number. This is why the icon of the Record cards is just a simple "circle".

Later, however, when I graph the numbers I see a certain pattern. The Record Card play a key role in pattern finding from long-term view point. Such pattern emerges from massive number of records. Such patter become new knowledge based on my own records. A big advantage of index cards is that it is piece-by-piece small parts, rather than single binded notebook. It enable to compare spatially/temporally distant cards. It is good to avoid our preconception, and makes pattern finding much easier.

Discovery Card

Discovery Card (Enlarge)
  • Icon : Electric Bulb (lightning)
  • Tag  : 3rd block

Besides this kind of long-term discovery from Records Card, I find patterns in a moment most of time. Like a moment of "I see it!" and "I find it!". This kind of inspiration is classified into "Discovery Card".

Things comes from our brain, mind, spirit, everything emerge from inside us are belongs to "Discovery Cards". Our discovery, inspiration, finding, understanding, cognition, detection, joke, poem, haiku, good idea, in our life and work are all this second kind.

Enhance your discovery

Through my PoIC experience, I emphasize Discovery Card is the most interesting and hence important among the Four Cards. Discovery card is the most dominant, 80 % among total index cards I wrote.

It seems human brain is possible to enhance finding discovery along a certain training. Number of the Discovery cards grows in my Dock and becomes dominant. I totally enjoy it because they are my own ideas, findings, and discoveries based on my own life. At the same time, I understood how many discoveries could have sunk into oblivion if I had not utilized an idea capturing system like PoIC.

Why this is so fun?

In recent research, Mogi Ken'ichiro, a brain physiologist, claims that the human brain feels some kind of "euphoria" when human discover something or experience an "I see it!" moment. This time a neuron in the brain is all activated on a time scale of 0.1 second. If human find more discoveries, neuron is more activated, that is, he/she become cleverer. Dr. Mogi calls this phenomena as A-ha experience. Watanabe (1976) also claims this kind of happiness. When one finally understand something that was previously undecipherable he/she feel a euphoric happiness. Watanabe calls this happiness an intellectual orgasm.

If one try to find discovery, my brain feels more happiness, and then try to find more discoveries. Introduction of Discovery Cards in my life leads my brain to optimize to find discovery. And all Discovery Cards are keep in a trustful system.

Optimize PoIC for your life

Reading this manual is just the beginning for PoICers. The first thing you should do is optimize this system for your life. PoIC is generic, user must think how to modify this system "just-fit" for your life. Thinking tool is already in your hand.

When you just install PoIC system, you have many ideas how to use this system. Keep think how to improve your productivity and creativity with PoIC. Write down your ideas on individual Discovery Cards. Soon, you will see such ideas emerge like a spring.

GTD Card

GTD Card (Enlarge)
  • Icon : Square (check box)
  • Tag  : 4th block Squared as open-loop

GTD is an advanced task processing system proposed by David Allen (2002). The GTD Cards is to describe the GTD tasks (To-Do).

What is GTD?

Essence of GTD is only three step,

  • Write stuffs in a brain down to paper
  • Divide project into small actionable tasks (2 minutes tasks)
  • Process the tasks through a GTD flow.

I think important point of the GTD is expressed as "do a calculation on paper" and not "mental arithmetic". For details of GTD processing, see David Allen's "Getting Things DONE".


The icon of the GTD cards is a check box, and tag is unfilled for the first time. That is, in David Allen's words, "open-loop", that means unfinished task. When I finish a task, the check box is checked, and the tag is filled (closed-loop). It means accomplishment of the task, and I "Get Thing Done!"

A single GTD Card include several small tasks such as shopping items. It is convenient to bundle multiple tasks, and helps to reduce the total GTD Cards in the system. Each individual small task has its own small check box. When all tasks are finished, the check box of the card is checked, and the tag is filled.

Hipster PDA and icPod

The number of GTD cards is less than 5 % of all cards in my dock ; GTD Cards are few, say 2 to 3 cards per day. I thinks this is why Hipster PDA works well with GTD. Extremely speaking, index cards can be trashed and no need to save after things done in previous GTD + index cards methods.

In PoIC, however, I try to capture any idea, thought, or task using cards. Such volume of cards are difficult to bundle with a single clip. Rather, a portable card folder like Moleskine Memo Pockets is more convenient with the PoIC. I introduced modified Moleskine "icPod" in Subsystem.


  • Nozarashi-Tei propose GTD specific index cards system "43Tabs". The 43Tabs system joint to the PoIC system seamlessly.

Cite Card

Cite Card (Enlarge)
  • Icon : Hat (something above you)
  • Tag  : 5th block

Quotation, cooking recipe, from book, web, and TV, anything about someone else's idea, are classified into 4th kind.

The title of Cite Card must reflect the contents, but we should express it with our own words.

Who's idea?

The Cite Cards must be distinguished from Record/Discovery card. The Cite card is someone else's idea that comes from "outside". The Record/Discovery card is from "inside". I cannot claim someone's idea as mine. I don't need to pretend someone else at all in a personal system like the PoIC. Intellectual honesty is the first rule of intellectual life (Watanabe, 1976).

Source of information

Cite Cards without source are useless. It is important to record a source of information. For a book, author, year, page(s) must be recorded as minimum. In case I take many Cite Cards from a single book, it is convenient to make Record Card of the source book. Make a Record Card with information of the book first, and use only author, year, page as the source in individual Cite Cards. I can use this Record Card as bookmark.