PoIC Format

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Let's see how to write cards in detail.

Icon and Tag

As we see, the indexcard is classified into four kinds, that is, Record Card, Discovery Card, GTD Card, and Reference Card, according to the contents. Too much kinds causes out of control of the system. From my experience, the four kinds is necessary and sufficient. The four icon is, again,

  • Record : Circle
  • Discovery : Electric Bulb
  • GTD : Check Box
  • Reference : Hat

The proper icon and tag are added to head of the title and top of the card, respectively. The icon makes easy to identify the contents visually. The tag is important, especially for finding open-loop of GTD card.

When you look at the indexcards in the dock, you will see which kind is dominant. This is something like a tag cloud of the flickr or tagrolls of the del.icio.us.

I must emphasize that a purpose of the tag is not for classification in the dock. All cards are keep in chronological order in the Dock. We don't mind a card blongs to which kind when we write each cards.

Finding Open-loop Easy

Can you see where is Open-Loop?

The open-loop is "opened loop" as it means in my tagging method. This simplicity makes possible to find open-loop much easier, even in the chronological sequence.

If you find two-separated dots in the sequence, that is open-loop. After accomplishment of the GTD card, the open-loop is closed (filled) which looks like a bar.

Why only four kinds?

There is 25 square on top edge of the Correct's quadrille card. It is quite possible to put more than four tags on a card. Then why we limit the number of tag only four in the PoIC method?

Because there is a limit of number human can handle. Yukio Noguchi claims "a magic number of three" that define a maximum number of kinds one can handle without conscious. If the kinds exceed three, it will be difficult to handle. So ideally speaking, three tag is the best.

In fact, at the beginning, the PoIC system adopt only three kind of tag, that is, Record, Discovery, and GTD. It is, however, difficult to distinguish between "my record" and "your record" with tag. And it is more convenient if we could see how many other people's idea is in the Dock. At last, a Reference card, the forth kind, is introduced.

Another is more practical reason. If a number of tags increase, more difficult to count the blocks from left edge. It makes difficult to put tag. For three tags, we can do in flush of light. For forth kind (fifth block), we have to count. For tenth kind, for example, it takes 5 seconds to put tag. Even if we introduce many tags, some day most of tags are not in use because of resistance in subconscious level.

The four kinds is less but maximum. It is necessary and sufficient.

Title and Contents

The title should be short and exact as possible. The shorter title makes review process easy and speedy. The title is written at third quadrille from top edge of the card. Then we can concentrate to see top few lines when we flip index cards in the dock.

Contents are about 120 letters in Japanese. Keep one topic for one card, and don't put too much contents. Free-hand illustration is very nice. In case you can't put the contents for one card, use 2 or more cards. Then put number, like 1/2 or 2/2, in the title. Do not use other side of cards.

I usually write contents first, and next title. After writing contents, I have some time to think what icon and title of the card should be. It avoid discrepancy between title and contents (it sometimes happen!).

Date and Time

Date and Time is very important in this method. The time stamp defines the absolute name of the card. This absolute name is used to link between the cards.

The time stamp appears at top-right of each cards, and looks like,

2007.01.20 Sun

Time stamp must be unique, but not necessary to be accurate. This is like URL of WWW. You can define name of the html file as you like, but the name must be unique if these files are in same directory. As you will see, the indexcards are kept in the card box in chronological order. Thanks to the time stamp, it is easy to find a specific card speedy fro the chronological sequence. This absolute name technique was first introduced on the 2-channel.

An information about "the day of the week" is important. Because our life is based on the week system. It is easier to remember what I did on last sunday, than just a sequence of number like "2006.11.19".

It is quite possible to use rubber stamp for putting time stamp. Unfortunatelly, I can't find rubber stamp with the day of the week. Also using rubber stamp interrapt sequencial writing of cards. A hand write is more quick than rubber stamp.

For fieldnote

Same writing rules are applied for a fieldnote.

  • Chronological order : Write everything in order it emerges. Life, work, complicated idea, simple idea.
  • Four Icons : Record, Discovery, GTD, and Reference.
  • Time stamp : I put date stamp on top of every page with rubber stamp. Time stamp is made sometimes. I interpolate time when I copy to indexcard. Again, accuracy is not so important. Rather, uniqueness is a key to define absolute name.
Writing format of the fieldnote. Same writing format for index cards. See also note @ flickr

The fieldnote is temporal. Later, I copy almost all topics to indexcard. A check-mark beside topics with pigment pen means "copied to indexcard". Simple GTDs (to-dos) are processed in the fieldnote without copying to indexcard.

The picture above was taken five months ago according to the date stamp. After five months later, now, I still use exactly same writing format. It may be comfort to me.

The four icons are useful for anything. I use them for memo on reading book, too.