Print to 3 x 5 cards in ThinkingRock

Problem

About 2 months ago I had a near GTD meltdown. I was using Outlook pretty effectively but I lost the meaning in my lists. Every item on every list looked exactly the same. Part of the problem: I am always near a phone and a computer, so those contexts became meaningless. Plus, it was just too easy to process all my thoughts into their neat little e-cubbies and not have to look at them again. I became awesome at processing my inbox and terrible at getting anything done. I needed something new.

I figured I needed better lists and a good way to manage those lists. And, I needed to keep those lists in my face. So, I decided to use paper lists each day. With that in mind I went in search of an app that would help me manage my lists so I could print out exactly what I needed, when I needed it.

One other thing: I hate redundancy. I wanted something that was flexible enough to move a thought between projects or contexts without having to type it out again.

Solution

I found a great solution in ThinkingRock. It’s simple, straight forward, and built with GTD principles in mind. I can run it from a USB drive which means I can effectively us it at home and at work. And I love that I can run a variety of reports and then print out the info I need to keep at hand.

Although…

But, I own an HPDA and ThinkingRock’s reports don’t have a 3″ x 5″ format. I’m sure they’ll get around to it someday. In the meantime, I did some looking around myself. It appears the reports are some flavor of XML and so I was able to tweak my favorite report to print nicely on a 3×5 card. I’m not a programmer, so this won’t be a perfect solution. But it is a suitable work-around. Here are some of the details.

I like the “Actions by Context” report. I found the XML file for that report in the C:\ThinkingRock\extract\report directory. I just opened up “actions-by-context.fo” in WordPad and tinkered with some of the arguments used to format the report. Of course, I saved the original report in case I really messed something up. Then, I just made sure my new .fo file had the name of the original so the app would see it. Now, when I run my report, I specify all the same parameters as before and it prints to a 3×5 card.

Ah ha!

I believe just about anyone can do what I did. But if you don’t think you can, or you don’t want to, I’ll email you the report I’m using with more detailed instructions for deploying it. Just shoot me a note here or leave your contact info in a comment.

Update 7/23/07

I forgot to mention earlier, I’m using v1.2.3.  I don’t have a solution for v2.0.

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