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Photo by Author. Ready for action!

It’s a late Tuesday Tool Time. Silly day job, getting in the way of my daily postings! But better late than never and I would not want to deprive my (checking the count) 34 followers from getting a new tool review today.

Today’s Tool is the humble index card. It’s what we old people used back in high school when writing research papers. We had to take our stack of index cards to the library and find our topic in encyclopedias and journals and take notes. The reference materials were not allowed to leave the library, so everything had to be gleaned and noted on the cards.

Side note here: It just struck me that our reference materials were updated at most yearly. Knowledge and information were growing so slowly that most of the encyclopedia could stay the same, but they would update any changes with a “yearbook.” Just think about it. The internet has made it possible to know more things faster and, if. You look for it, to have the most up-to-date information possible. Crazy!

But back to the index cards. We would put the notes on the cards, then make an outline, using the cards and put them in order according to the outline (introduction, hypothesis, proof paragraph 1, proof paragraph…, concluding paragraph.) Write in longhand, then type it on your mother’s electric typewriter. At least I would try to type it on my mother’s electric typewriter. She would get so irritated by my slow typing that she would rip the paper from my hand and type it for me. See, incompetence can work in your favor.

Post research paper, I didn’t think about index cards again until I read Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. (Grammarly does not like those two “bys” so close together.) Lamott wrote about tucking an index card and pencil in her pocket as she went on walks. It didn’t work for me; I broke the pencils.

But, inspired by Cal Newport, I gave Trello, a project management tool, a try as part of my Capture, Configure, Control process. And….nope. Even though the cards were cute, I just could not do the online index card thing. Then I realized the side of my desk is a four-foot bulletin board.

Just add index cards and push pins and Presto! A physical task board. And everyone who comes into my office sees how “busy” I am, so they don’t stay long. Win-win.