Print Your Index Cards

I have been using a combination of Google Calendar and Remember the Milk to keep track of my daily schedule and tasks lately. I recently took Doug Ireton’s advice on the RTM blog on how to set up RTM as a GTD system, and all of my lists and tasks are now GTD-ready. (For more information on Getting Things Done, click here or here.) One of my favorite things about both RTM and gCal is the ability to text your tasks to the service. With gCal, you set up your phone and text GVENT with your event, and with RTM you direct message on Twitter. If it weren’t for this, I’d forget most of the things I have to do before I get anywhere near a computer. I very highly recommend checking out both of these services if you haven’t already done so. But I digress.

I’ve also been using PocketMod as a way to carry all my weekly tasks around with me in paper form. I decided, however, that I have no use for all 8 pages that PocketMod will give you, as I was only using about 2 on a regular basis, and that I really like 3×5 index cards better. (I don’t do a full-on Hipster PDA, however. As a female, I’m forced to wear clothes that don’t have pockets designed to carry ANYTHING, so I carry a purse instead. Actually I hate “purses”, so I really carry a small backpack. But again, I digress.)

I only need a few index cards, one for this week’s schedule and one for next week, and one for my Next Actions list in RTM. Rather than handwriting these each week, I decided to see if I could get them to print to 3×5 index cards. Now, to warn you, I use a MacBook, and on Macs, printing preferences are very easily customized. I’m sure it can be done on a Windows machine, with the right printer, but I’m not sure how easy it would be.

On 43Folders, I managed to find a tip for printing the week from Google Calendar to a 3×5 card, which was very helpful. After doing this, I realized I’d want a To Do list as well, and figured my Next Actions list from RTM will be perfect.

For the record, I’m doing this in Safari, and printing on an HP Photosmart C3100-series printer.

The process for printing from gCal is a little more complicated than RTM, so I’m going to do the easy one first. In RTM, select the list you want to print. Click the “Print” icon in the info pane to the right of the list. It will open up a new window (or tab, if you’re running Firefox and have that preference selected) with the list header at the top of the page, and the list with neat little check-boxes. It also lists due dates for the tasks, what list the task came from (because my NA list is a composite of all my lists) and the priority, pictured by little bullet points. Select Print from the File menu, and in the Paper Size drop-down menu, choose Index Card 3×5. Deselect the checkbox next to “Print headers and footers” so you have more space. Now change the scale to the desired size. This will change depending on how many items you have on your list, and how big you want it. I try to scale it down so it’s all on one card, but as big as it can be. Make sure you put the index card in the printer tray, and click Print. See, that wasn’t so hard.

Now for the fun.

To print from gCal, first choose Week view, then select only the calendars you want to print. Click the “Print” icon at the top of the page, right next to the view tabs. This will open Google’s version of a print window. In this window, change the font size to “Biggest” in the drop-down menu. Trust me, your eyes will thank you. (Although, honestly, it could be even bigger.) DO NOT click Print. This window does not allow you to change the size of the paper, so instead, click Save As. This will cause the browser to download your calendar as a PDF file. Open this file, and open the Print dialog. Now change the paper size to Index Card 3×5. In Preview, I had to tell it to automatically scale the image to fit the paper size. Once this radio button was selected, however, it sized and scaled the image perfectly. Again, make sure you put the index card in the printer tray, and click Print. Also not too hard, but there is an extra step or two.

If the Hipster PDA isn’t quite right for you, but you want to carry index cards rather than a planner, and you’re too busy (or lazy) to handwrite your cards, hopefully this will give you some insight on how to print them. Let the computer do the thinking for you. Or at least the writing, since this does involve some thinking on your part.