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How To Make a Ductster PDA

[n.b.: this is one page out of a series of pages which will describe how I've implemented/adapted Getting Things Done into my role as a teacher (grades 7 and 8); more pages will be added shortly]

Essential to my implementation of GTD is the so-called Ductster PDA. It is a personal adaptation of the Hipster PDA first described at the excellent 43 Folders blog and essentially is a modified duct tape wallet designed to hold index cards. Here's how to make your own:

Ductster PDA step 1 1. Cut 13 strips of duct tape, about 24 cm long each. In this example, I'm making a blue wallet with a red border (apologies for the flash glare).
Ductster PDA step 2 2. Place one strip face up on your work surface (this will be the top seam, so if you're doing a multiple-colour wallet, pay attention accordingly). Place your second strip face down on the first one, as close to 'half way' as you can get it.
Ductster PDA step 3 3. Fold the 'top' seam over (don't worry about the sides at this point)
Ductster PDA step 4 4. Flip it over, then stick another strip face down on the exposed sticky bit. Try very hard to match your edges as closely as you can and not leave any sticky bits explosed. If you find you have to overlap a bit (i.e. like a millimeter), that's preferable to leaving a 'river' of sticky bit showing.
Ductster PDA step 5 5. Flip it over, then put another strip face down on the exposed sticky bit.
Ductster PDA step 6 6. Keep doing this until you have used all 13 strips. Fold the last piece over to form the 'bottom' seam of your Ductster PDA. If you like, you can use the back of a spoon or a ruler to smooth out any bubbles and/or bumps at this point.
Ductster PDA step 7 7. Trim the sides down so your sheet of duct tape is 22 cm wide (a paper cutter works incredibly well for this; second choice would be a utility knife and ruler; scissors are a distant third) 24 cm long each. The straighter you can do this, the better your final product will be.
Ductster PDA step 8 8. Take the sheet and fold the 'bottom' up to the top, not quite even with the top, but .5 cm or so from the top. You can even make it even with the top if you like, but it makes it a bit easier to see/find that 'interior pocket'. You don't want the 'flap' to be too large because (experience shows) it might get bent in your pocket.
Ductster PDA step 9

9. To make the 'everyday pocket', unroll a piece of duct tape roughly 46 cm long then fold it back on itself (sticky side to sticky side) and trim the piece to 22 cm (or whatever your wallet is at this point).

Ductster PDA step 10 10. take a piece of duct tape 22 cm or so long and tape it to this strip to form the top seam of your pocket.
Ductster PDA step 11

11. The first step in assembling the thing is to take the pocket you made in step 10 and line up the bottom of it with the folded part of the 'big sheet' (keep in mind you want the 'shorter' part of the sheet on the inside of your wallet). Then take a strip of duct tape (red, in our example) to form one of the seams on the sides. Look at the next photo before proceeding.

Ductster PDA step 12 12. Note how to cut the tape to give yourself 'hospital corners' and make it look nice. It seems to work best to fold the small flaps up/down first, then the long side flap. Smooth with the back of a spoon for maximum adhesion.
Ductster PDA step 13 13. This is what it should look like at this point.
Ductster PDA step 14 14. Repeat for the other side.
Ductster PDA step 15 15. Finally, attach the pocket using the same basic method.
Ductster PDA step 16 16. Don't forget your hospital corners.
Ductster PDA step 17 17. What you should have at this point. Depending on how you've been cutting/tearing your duct tape, you might find some 'threads' sticking out. This is a good time to trim them away.
Ductster PDA step 18 18. Your next step is to fold it in half. Depending on the quality of the duct tape you used, you might find it useful to put a bunch of binder clips along the 'binding' to help it get its shape. (I'm still trying to figure out whether this step is really necessary).
Ductster PDA step 19 19. Put your index cards in the 'everyday' pockets and fill up the other one as you see fit.

The Ductster PDA in action

Click on the photo for a larger view

Some preliminary comments (which will likely change once I put up the other pages of Getting Things Done ... for teachers):

What I like about this thing (other than the fact that it is geekily fashionable and fits nicely in your pocket) is that it provides you with four 'pockets' which allow you to impose some organization on your cards. E.g., in my current configuration (which is subject to change), I use the right 'open' pocket for index cards with the 'next actions' I hope to accomplish today (because I'm a teacher, I have a number of repeating items that I have to do on specific days ... I've created some 'templates' in WordPerfect for these days and have printed out a number of index cards for specific days). So, if today is Monday, I have my 'Monday Card' on the right, plus any other cards/next actions I hope to deal with on Monday.

The left 'open' pocket is for the next day's 'template' (which usually gets filled as 'today' progresses) followed by a bunch of blank index cards and a few other templates (e.g. checklists for each class for homework checking purposes; cards for contact with parents, etc. ... not too many, mind you -- I have a bunch of these in a small basket in my desk; they're in the Ductster just in case I need to access them when I'm not in my room).

The 'big closed pocket' on the right is where cards go when I have completed the action. I review them at the end of the day to make sure I didn't miss anything, run a big line through them and toss them into a basket so I can use the other side for another task). On the left side go cards with templates for larger tasks (I try to fit all the steps of a project on one card; I've made a template for that too) that I can chip away at as I get time.

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