USING THE SYSTEM
|THE CODING SYSTEM – The First Step
On the left and right-hand sides of each card you’ll see columns of circles and squares. These make up the single most important feature of en-gram POCKET CARDSTM, the Coding System. The circles and squares provide the spaces for your own unique symbols (codes).
By coding entries, you can quickly scan your cards and zero in on the particular entries that you’re looking for. The en-gram POCKET CARDSTM system essentially does the organizing for you.
Step #1: The first step to begin using the system is to build your own Personal Coding Library. Use the enclosed green marker card to store the various categories of entries that you will most likely make it on to your cards. Your list will probably include things like calls to makes, letters to write, dates to remember, and ideas.
Step #2: Next, develop a visual code, or symbol, for each one of these classes of entries. Feel free to consider any type of symbol that will be easy to write and recognize. My own personal code for telephone calls is the plus (+) sign, for example.
Continue the process of naming categories and symbols until you think that you’ve covered most all of the common sort of items. Don’t worry if you feel as though your Personal Coding Library is incomplete. My experience tells me that you’ll always be thinking of and using new symbols for new categories of entries. Even after eighteen years of using this system, I still develop codes and symbols for new categories of entries. And while I may use some only temporarily, others will become a permanent part of my Coding Library. Consider some of the categories and symbols below:
+ phone call to make
It is not necessary to code every entry. In fact, I leave many of the my entries uncoded, knowing that they represent general things to do to take clothes to the cleaners, write in my journal, take DVD back, clean my desk, reply to phone request, etc.
The Coding Spaces
On the left and right hand sides of each en-gram card you will find columns of small circles and squares. These are the coding spaces for your entries on the en-gram cards.
The Primary Coding Space – the left-hand side
I urge you to be creative in determining how you might best use the coding spaces. I recommend, however, that you use the column on the left-hand side of the card as your Primary Coding Space for jotting symbols to identify the type of entry (task at hand). When you’ve completed a task, simply darken the entire coding- space, so that when you’re scanning your cards, your eyes will just pass over the completed items.
The Follow-Up Space – the right-hand side
The coding space on the right hand-side of the card should be primarily used for follow-up symbols. Let me explain: Suppose that one of your entries reads, call John about pricing. Suppose then that you called John, but he wasn’t available at the time of your call. You’ve essentially completed the task when you called John. But you haven’t yet satisfied the underlying reason for the task since you didn’t actually talk with John. At this point, you’re relying on John to satisfy the underlying task. But that probably makes you uncomfortable. Just think about it: how much confidence do you really have in John to return your call? Do you ever find that other people disappoint you and forget to do what they committed to do? Allow the en-gram POCKET CARDSTM system be your storehouse of reminders for follow-ups as well.
In order to mark an item for follow up, first fully darken the Coding Space on the left – since, of course, you’ve complete the task. But then draw a diagonal line through the Coding Space on the right as a way to signify the possible need to follow up. This gives you best opportunity to close the loop on tasks that remain open. The slash-filled coding space on the right-hand side of the card will easily remind you to at some point call John back if he hasn’t yet given you an answer.
An alternative to using the Coding Space on the right-hand side of the card is to assign level of priority to your entries by entering numbers or letters to rank levels of importance to various tasks (1,2,3 or A, B,C, for example).
You might also use the Coding Space on the right-hand side to indicate an estimate of the time necessary to complete certain tasks. While some tasks may take only one to five minutes in order to complete, others may take a significant, uninterrupted block of time one to five hours. Use numbers or symbols to designate the estimated time necessary to complete the task, and you may find that it’s easier to plan your day.
A note on using both sides:
The grid on both sides of the en-gram POCKET CARDSTM makes this next point quite obvious: use both sides for your entries.