Prepping: Card Files Vs. Databases

This is a discussion to have with yourself and all your other “team members” including spouse and children.  It’s all about how you manage your Life.

Specifically, we’ve been huge fans of the “morning cuppa coffee and planning”  start to any productive day, for years and years.

When you line up all your tasks, it’s just a lot easier, seems like, to get them all done.

Like baseball, where the game moves along smoothly, every problem in your day should be “on deck and warmed-up” before you get to actually doing it.  Gives the mind a chance to work (in background) at optimizing solutions and getting things done quickly

Most people don’t start the day with a planning session.  They just get up, do whatever Life seems to throw at them, and when things stop landing in their way, it must be time to hoist a brew and then visit the pillow… Rinse and repeat until dead.

There is another way.

I keep a spreadsheet which has evolved from my earliest simple LOSTD (list of sh*t to do).  For a while, I was using the “task-randomizer plug-in” that’s available  on the website as a downloadable from the Master Index Page.

Here lately, my task-manager looks more like this:

This is what the list looked like last Sunday morning.  As you can see, I had a pretty good day which included a trip to Tractor Supply and so forth.

I figured (in addition to all the things on the “writing projects” list) getting down to line 8 of the spreadsheet would be a pretty-good day’s worth.

In the morning, I go through the “priority” column and put simple H/M/L (high, medium, and low) rankings on things.  That’s it.

Still, all this depends on computers being up and that means that I should really have a back-up plan in place.   Something on paper?

I do:  It cost $25-bucks, but if the SHTF, I figure there will be HUGE demand for paper-based system tools.  This means things like 3X5 or  4X6 cards that you can use to track shop projects, work plans, even sales leads if you’re in the working world.

A bit of a personal “war story” – since it will help  young people who didn’t know how “The World Before the Web” (WBtW) worked:

A business was organized into a system-of-forms.  Typically, in millions of businesses there would be a “sales form.”  This captured basic customer information like name, address, and phone number.  (Today, we would add email, but if TSHTF, that could be gone…)

Next was an “Order form” and this was usually a multi-part form of NCR paper (of what some call “carbonless paper.“)  There would usually be three or four sheets to this:  One for the “shop” where things were made, one for the General Manager, one for Accounting, and one for the customer (as a packing slip).

All we (old-timers like me) did at the dawning of the database age, was we would look at an office or business, figure out how the forms were set up and who was doing what.  It was then simple to make a database of the form contens (field definitions) and then figure who could have read/write and who would have read/only access.  After that, a screen design for the and presto!  The father of all apps.

Add features like revenue and production reports and now you have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) program…and you’re rich— a database whiz.

This became such an efficient way to operate a business.  The database effectively becoming the “electric railroad” on which businesses operated.  That soon became  business process re-engineering.  And today, we are still awash in enterprise resource planning software implementation teams – some of which don’t even understand the bascs of where all this came from,

Once we have ERP, we can build apps to lets customers peek at their own information…

Which gets us back to the discussion of paper 3X5 and 4X6 cards.

Despite the databases around here (Access seemed like overkill for a handful of personal projects and Project (or the open-source ProjectLibre), do we need them?  Again, overkill….

Instead, just two items and about $25-bucks set me up for life.  The first $16 went for Plastic Index Card Flip Top File Box Holds 300 4×6 Cards, Matte Black, with Poly Card Guides, A-Z, 4×6 -Inch, and Heavy Weight Index Cards, 4″ x 6″, Ruled, White, 100/Pack (4×6 Inch).

The rest of my budget went for several packs of Esselte Corporation Oxford Color Coded Index Cards, 4×6 Inches, Pack of 100. The thing I like about these is the color is only on the top.  Where it should be.  the body of the card is white – as it should be for ease of reading.

There are two sizes  – 3 by 5 and 4 by 6 – but I went with the larger because I can write larger (no glasses needed) and you can get 60% more information on the 4X6 cards.

We all do organizing at work, but who really spends the time or organize their whole life to a plan?  Statistically:  Not very damn many.  Which explains why the world is filled with “average” people more than “exceptional people” – because we all too-often confuse activity with progress Pareto Principle 101:  80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your efforts.

Skip the PIMs and Databases – Paper Pareto!

Cards are good for meeting notes:  Even though I have several servers up 24-7 around here, it’s still easier sometimes to grab a card with a phone number than it is to open up a computer. Toss in the scanner and push to OneNote for whatever project, if needed.

Plus, when you line up your projects (cards) there’s something just a bit more tangible about handling of a card that makes more tactile  sense than the database approach.

Truth is:  A 4X6 card sitting in front of you for the day is harder to dismiss and allow distractions to creep in than a database or Sticky-Note pop-ups which I’ve also use a lot.

Don’t get me wrong, the sticky-notes are great when you are doing a computer-based task.  But about 50% (and sometimes 100%) of your personal  time on weekends is not spent in front of a phone or computer.

Again, if I don’t have a physical card, it just too easy to “lose focus” and go off on more enjoyable or interesting projects, to the determent of doing the harder tasks which need doing.  No push content from social in my 4X6 cards for the day.

Even without TSHTF, humans are easily distracted and if you pick a card with a project on it…it’s a lot harder to blow it off than a simple click of the mouse.

And THAT leads to a really deep point to ponder:  Sure, computers are brain amplifiers and they have brought us a long ways.  But now and then, just so we remember our heritage, do we need to go back and impose our own physical order on Life…Or, are we moving to a time when a Global Life Tasking Program will dictate how we live, work, and play?

If you don’t OWN all the processes in your life, including planning, it’s easy to see how we could become Victims of Process – which is the core question my “Millennial’s Missing Manual” book came from…

OK, off to “action today’s list.”  Good luck knocking a few high priority tasks from your own list today…

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

9 thoughts on “Prepping: Card Files Vs. Databases”

  1. Some people know what they’re going to do before they take that baby’s body and enter it and other people don’t know what they’re going to do until the day that they die but most people are somewhere in between those two lines there ,would you not agree. lol

  2. And third George what are you going to do when one day we wake up and all the sudden we can read each other’s minds we won’t need print of any kind or books magazines or news networks we will just know what each other is thinking as a collective .lol

  3. We have a folder ..the Red..folder..sectioned off for different situations. An escape map of the house. Air masks, fire blankets and several fire the confusion of an emergency I figured it would be easier to say get the Red book.
    I am a list person and usually have a pocket notepad on me or very close by.
    No fancy programs simple paper and pencil.
    I actually am putting one in with our Christmas cards this year. Every year I include something usually with a quote I find important .

  4. George after much thought I came back to my background in hypnosis since the early 50s and seeing Fords nearly perfect testimony feel that she was hypnotically scripted. Not even difficult to do on an amateur basis but the expertise she is surrounded by makes this conclusion very plausible.

    • I’d not be surprised if Chrissie was hypnotized into doing her act. I’m just surprised that the scripted her to be so whiney and emotional. It was a real turnoff, even more so than her claiming what allegedly happened 35 years ago with no evidence.

      At least Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed and we can hopefully hear about something else on the radio.

  5. Dear Mr. Ure,

    How would you respond to this CBC interviewee, author and still active IT industry pioneer, who suggests most web users would be better off to cancel their social media accounts? Would your unbridled enthusiasm overturn the cart and cause a stampede in the paddock?

    Spurred to action? Chomping at the bit to cut loose algorithmic ties that bind?

    How’re the shoes feeling? Lucky Sevens? Wait for the starting gun, and your eight seconds to begin!

    Click here for egress from the circus:

  6. Funny how you describe the process so neatly. In school getting my accounting degree, my auditing professor described the same business process and others in the same way, as physical processes with paper trails, despite knowing that so many companies don’t use them anymore with ERP software. Much easier to conceptualize an audit trail this way.

  7. Pretty soon claiming victimhood is going to be the weapon of choice against anybody. It will be used as a tool of revenge in the era of meetoo…were becoming a society of professional victims and if theyre all not listened to theyll expand their claims to include any crime imaginable.. These claims will be made agsinst people who the victim dislikes or thinks has money or just plain want to ruin….you watch… Our society is on course to become one big victim of just plain being alive. Kavanaugh’s hearing showed us even a falsely accused person will become evil forever if they dont show sensitivity to the person making false claims against them. That’s how screwed up the professional victim society is…you watch…Kavanaugh was the beginning of the new way to destroy anybody…and it will spread like fire…

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