Advertising
Advertising

Index Card Hacks

Index Card Hacks
Index Card Hacks

    I love index cards. I’d like to blame Merlin Mann and his hipster PDA for this obsession, but I don’t use a hipster PDA and still I find myself unable to pass the index card rack at Office Depot without stopping for a look.

    Index cards provide a sturdier alternative to notepad paper, making them ideal for “throwaway” notes like directions or phone numbers — notes I’ll need to carry around a bit but won’t need to keep permanently. They’re also useful for note-taking for any task where you’ll need to re-order the notes later — I use them a lot in my research to record quotes and reference information. And if you’ve never indexed a book (and who has?) you might not realize that they’re pretty useful for indexing, which I think might have something to do with why they’re called “index cards”.

    Advertising

    How to make vertical index cards

    The manufacturers of index cards seem intent on frustrating me in my quest for vertically-aligned index cards. It’s as if a secret cabal of paper goods producers has gotten together and decided that nobody could ever possibly want cards in profile layout (3″ wide by 5″ tall). They do love to tease, though — Post-It has sticky-backed index cards in with a profile layout, but they’ve decided to make them a non-standard 3″ x 4″, which is useful only for mocking me.

    So I make my own. First I got one of those cheap plastic paper cutters designed for scrapbookers and other crafters, and later I found an old-fashioned guillotine-style cutter at a garage sale for $5, with a cast-iron cutting arm and a blade that’s seen better days but works well enough. Then I picked up a bulk package (500 cards) of 5″ x 8″ index cards. Then I got cutting! Here’s what I do:

    Advertising

    1. First, set up the cutter. You can, of course, use the cutter’s ruler to measure each cut, but that’s a) slow and b) sometimes inaccurate. Instead, I use a guide — another index card to measure my cuts against, so I end up with standard-sized cards. On the guillotine-style cutter, I tape a card up against the cutting edge, and feed the big cards in from the outside; on the paper trimmer, I do the opposite, so the card hangs over the outside edge.
      This is what the paper cutters look like after setting them up to make vertical index cards
      • Line up the big cards, a few at a time, with the guide card. You have to experiment a little to see how many you can cut at once. On the trimmer, I can only do two at a time; on the guillotine, I can do 4 or 5 at once (I could probably do more if the blade was sharper). Make sure the cards are stacked together evenly, and are pressed solidly against the guide rail.
        Using the guillotine cutter
          Using the trimmer
          • Cut once, then re-align for a second cut: The first cut leaves a 5″ x 5″ square. Move it forward and line the new edge up with the guide card.
            Using the guillotine cutter to make the second cut
            • Cut again. The second cut will leave you with a stack of 2″ x 5″ leftover strips. If you’re a big reader (like I am), congratulations — you’ve just solved your bookmark problem! If you’re not a reader, I’m sure you can find another use for your card strips — or give them to your kids (if you have any) and see what they come up with.
            • Enjoy your upright index cards. Each 5″ x 8″ card makes two 3″ x 5″ cards, whose layout roughly matches that of regular letter or A4 notebook paper. I find this layout easier to work with — a stack fits in the hand better, and is easier to write on. And there’s more room for lists (I could put them in two columns on “wide” cards, but that doesn’t scan well).

            How to make dry-erase index cards

            The dry-erase index card hack

              Vertical index cards are great for checklists, and I wanted to make a weekly task checklist I could slip into my Moleskine, so I wouldn’t have to copy recurring tasks into my next actions list every week. That means it has to be something reusable (it’s no use moving these tasks out of my Moleskine if I’m going to have to rewrite the list every week anyway) and something I can keep with my current tasks as I move forward through the notebook.

              This is what I came up with:

              Advertising

              1. Write your list. Write down your list, leaving at least 3/4″ between the left edge of the card and your list items. Within that margin, (about 3/8″ from the left edge) draw a small checkbox for each task. I’ve done a weekly task checklist, but anything you do where you need to make sure you do each step would be appropriate.
              2. Comparison of tapes as dry-erase surface

                  Put a piece of clear sticky tape along the left edge, covering the checkboxes. This is your dry-erase surface. Line it up flush with the left edge. For best results, use the shiny kind (with the glossy finish); the matte- or satin-finish tape (sometime called “invisible” tape) will not erase as well.

                • Trim if needed. Any overhang will be annoying and will gather lint in your pocket or bag and dry-erase ink when you erase.
                • Use a thin dry-erase marker to check things off. Yes, it’s one more thing to carry, but I always have a bag with me anyway so it’s no big deal.
                • When you’re ready to start the list over, just erase your checkmarks. Use a tissue, paper towel, whiteboard eraser, your finger, or even your shirt if you don’t mind having marks on your clothes. Erase from right to left, so the ink doesn’t smear onto the unprotected paper part of the card.

                True, you could just write your list in ink and make your checks in pencil, but a) pencil rarely erases entirely, and b) rubber erasers degrade the surface of the paper.

                Advertising

                If you really like the idea of a portable dry-erase board you can fit in the back pocket of your Moleskine (or just tuck into the pages), try covering the surface of a card with 3″ packing tape. This could be used to make any index card template from DIY Planner reusable — I can see this being useful for the mind-map template, if you’re the kind of person who likes to make mind-maps. Treat cards with dry-erase ink on them carefully — direct contact shouldn’t hurt them, but anything that rubs across them will take ink with it.

                What other index card hacks have people come up with? How do you get through the whole pack of cards? What possible use are 4″ x 6″ cards? Let us know in the comments.

                More by this author

                Building Relationships: 11 Rules for Self-Promotion How to Become an Expert (And Spot out One Nearby) The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works) Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed Back to Basics: Your Calendar

                Trending in Featured

                1 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated) 2 Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor 3 9 Practical Ways to Achieve Work Life Balance in a Busy World 4 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time 5 8 Steps to Continuous Self Motivation Even During the Difficult Times

                Read Next

                Advertising
                Advertising
                Advertising

                Last Updated on June 17, 2019

                40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

                40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

                Over the years here at Lifehack, we’ve discussed plenty of apps that you can use to improve your overall productivity.

                There are certain ones that many of our contributors and editors (past and present) have adopted over the long-term — there are always the stalwarts that stick around. But there are also new apps that crop up every day, adding more and more depth to the app category.

                Some of the apps are incredibly plain and simple, while others are more robust and offer more features than you can shake a stick at. And everyone has the one they prefer.

                It’s been our job (and still is our job) to keep abreast of all of the productivity-type apps out there. As a result — and as a bit of a refresher — we’ve put together a list of 40 best productivity apps for iPhone (all categorized based on their functions) to provide you with an all-in-one resource for you.

                For Getting Things Done

                1. OmniFocus

                This app is, while pricey, considered to be one of the (if not the) most robust and full-featured productivity apps on the market.

                Download it here.

                  2. Forest

                  Train yourself to put your phone down and stay focused on the task at hand by playing with this planting game. It’s fun and will help you achieve more.

                  Download it here.

                    3. Things

                    Another robust choice, this app is a favorite amongst “productivityists”.[1]

                    Download it here.

                      4. 30/30

                      Recently covered here at Lifehack

                      , 30/30 is a newcomer to the game that incorporates lists and timing of tasks into an elegant and easy-to-use interface.

                      Download it here.

                        5. Any.Do

                        A beautiful-looking app that is both easy on the eyes and your wallet.

                        Download it here.

                          6. PocketLife Calendar

                          This calendar app is specifically designed to be stylish and super easy-to-use. You can organize your life easily with different modern features.

                          Download it here.

                            7. Asana

                            We’ve covered Asana here at Lifehack

                            , and it is being actively developed by a strong team committed to making collaborative task management a more efficient and effective experience.

                            Download it here.

                            Advertising

                              8. ToDoist

                              This app keeps track of everything – from simple errands to your most important projects – so you can get it all done and enjoy more peace of mind along the way.

                              Download it here.

                                9. FlowTasks

                                From the folks at MetaLab, Flow is a gorgeous collaborative task management app that is easy-to-use and incredibly functional.

                                Download it here.

                                  10. Calendars 5

                                  This calendar app focuses on events that help you to keep track of upcoming events and tasks easily. It has everything you need to organize, track and complete your to-dos.

                                  Download it here.

                                    11. Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists

                                    A fun and innovative list-making app that relies on swiping and pinching to make things happen. Clear created a lot of buzz when it launched, and might be the perfect to-do list gateway app for many.

                                    Download it here.

                                      12. Due

                                      A robust reminders app that lets you store and maintain reminders of all types. It’s replaced Reminders for me when it comes to the basics, and it’s worth a look if you want to keep the mundane stuff out of your head and cluttering your mind.

                                      Download it here.

                                        13. Checkmark 2

                                        I use this app

                                        for location-based reminders (such as groceries I need to get or single items I need to pick up from various locations). Checkmark is simple to use and a valuable addition to my productivity arsenal.

                                        Download it here.

                                          14. TeuxDeux

                                          Created by Tina Roth Eisenberg and Fictive Kin — Teux Deux is simple and incredibly stellar in terms of design. If you like lists (including the popular “Someday Bucket”) and want to associate dates with tasks, then Teux Deux will be right up your alley.

                                          Download it here.

                                            15. Wunderlist 

                                            Another incredibly popular choice is Wunderlist. Part of 6Wunderkinder’s software family, it sports a gorgeous design and is incredibly functional. We’ve talked about the app a couple of times here at Lifehack, so check those posts out here.

                                            Download it here.

                                            Advertising

                                              16. Nirvana

                                              For the GTD enthusiasts, there’s Nirvana. Straight from the source: “Nirvana frees your mind to focus on actually getting things done. If you’ve had enough of generic to-do lists, it’s time for Nirvana.”

                                              Download it here.

                                                17. Priorities

                                                An elegant-looking task management app that has received decent reviews,[2] this could be the one for you if you’re not a fan of OmniFocus or Things — especially if you need (or want) to share tasks with others.

                                                Download it here.

                                                  For Building Habits

                                                  18. Productive

                                                  With this app, you can plan your habits with an easy-to-use interface, schedule habits for any time of the day, set smart reminders for each time of the day and stay on track with useful feedback. This app is perfect for anyone who wants to build a habit that sticks.

                                                  Download it here.

                                                    19. Habitica: Gamified Taskmanager

                                                    You can complete tasks and build habits in a more fun way with this app. Input your Habits, your Daily goals, and your To-Do list, and then create a custom avatar. Check off tasks to level up your avatar and unlock features such as armor, pets, skills, and even quests.

                                                    Download it here.

                                                      20. Streaks

                                                      This app follows the model of the popular “don’t break the chain method” in that you use the app to track how you are donig in the pursuit of your goal. Great for goal-setting — and an easy and elegant interface to boot.

                                                      Download it here.

                                                        21. Remember The Milk

                                                        Another popular to-do list app, Remember The Milk has a huge following. It has plenty to offer, including the ability to share tasks with others.

                                                        Download it here.

                                                          22. Day One Journal

                                                          When it comes to journaling, nothing really beats Day One. Its latest update added a slew of features that will make you want to start making journaling a habit.

                                                          Download it here.

                                                            For Files Organization

                                                            23. Evernote

                                                            Touted as the world’s most widely-used productivity app, Evernote an be used simply as a notetaking app or can be customized to be your GTD app of choice — among other things.

                                                            Download it here.

                                                              24. Pocket

                                                              You can save an article, video or link you want to read or watch later to Pocket from anywhere including your computer, Safari, email, and your favorite apps like Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Feedly.

                                                              Download it here.

                                                              Advertising

                                                                25. Sync.Me

                                                                This app identifies unknown phone calls, warns you from annoying spam calls, and adds a caller picture to your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

                                                                Download it here.

                                                                  26. Droplr

                                                                  One of the most popular file-sharing apps out there today. Straight from the source: “Stay productive on the go. Droplr for iPhone keeps you in sync and makes sharing on the iPhone natural.”

                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                    27. Dropbox

                                                                    Before iCloud, there was Dropbox. And there still is Dropbox, which is still widely used by both Mac and PC users all over the globe. It’s like having a flash drive in your iPhone. A must-have.

                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                      28. iDolly 

                                                                      In conjunction with Dolly Drive and DollySync, iDolly allows you to edit and share your documents from your iPhone.

                                                                      Since all your changes sync automatically to all your devices, the current version of a document will always be accessible because Dolly Sync keeps everything in sync. Very handy.

                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                        29. Soulver

                                                                        It may seem odd that a calculator app shows up on this list, but this is no ordinary calendar app. Ben Brooks over at The Brooks review describes Soulver as follows: “It is what calculators would have been if they were invented at the same time computers were, instead of what we have with most calculator apps.” [3]

                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                          For Working Smarter

                                                                          30. Captio

                                                                          A simple capture tool. Straight from the developers: “It’s simple. Open Captio and start typing. When you’re done, hit Send. The note is immediately delivered to your email inbox.”

                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                            31. Drafts

                                                                            A tremendous capture tool that allows for simple capture, followed by sending items to various applications such as OmniFocus, Things and more.

                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                              32. NoteShelf 2

                                                                              This is a perfect note-taking app for you. You can take beautiful handwritten notes, type, annotate PDFs, record audio & create lists. You can organize them into categories or groups.

                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                              Advertising

                                                                                33. Doodle

                                                                                This app links directly with the Doodle service, which is one that allows you to plan and organize meetings far more efficiently and effectively. Lifehack contributor Steve Dotto has written about Doodle more in-depth here.

                                                                                Download it here.

                                                                                  34. TextExpander (Legacy)

                                                                                  I have saved countless hours of time with TextExpander, and despite its inability to be as robust on iOS as it is on the Mac, it is still a worthy app to have in your arsenal.

                                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                                    35. Launch Center Pro

                                                                                    A quick launcher for the iPhone that doesn’t just launch an app…with some of them it can do much more. This app saves you time by launching complex actions in a single tap.

                                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                                      36. GoodReader

                                                                                      This may seem to be an odd one to make this list, but here are plenty of reasons why it is here with this article.

                                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                                        37. LogMeIn

                                                                                        Want to be able to control your Mac from wherever you are? Then get this app.

                                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                                          For Improving Security

                                                                                          38. 1Password

                                                                                          There is simply no better password manager out there. I’ve even put together a 1Password Emergency Kit worth looking at here.

                                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                                            39. LastPass Password Manager

                                                                                            You can store passwords and logins, create online shopping profiles, generate strong passwords, track personal information in photo and audio notes.

                                                                                            All you have to do is remember your LastPass master password, and LastPass autofills web browser and app logins for you.

                                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                                              40. Truecallers

                                                                                              Identify and block spammers, search for unknown numbers and call friends easily with this app. With a community-based spam list from over 250 million users, you’ll need this app.

                                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                                                There are plenty of other options out there (and we’ve heard from readers in the past as to what they enjoyed using), but these 40 are among the best.

                                                                                                More Great Apps Recommendations

                                                                                                Reference

                                                                                                Read Next