New addition to My Organizer: Compact Project Task Cards. (Download available!)
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping track of my various “projects I’m working on” in the extra margin space of my weekly planner sheets (in the photo above, it’s the space between the day-boxes and the binder rings, under the cards). However, I found myself copying over unfinished projects from week to week. This got annoying.
I thought about Getting Things Done and began to see the wisdom of having a master “project list,” which was essentially what my week-to-week list was. So, I tried using a paper “bookmark” (about the width of the margin) as a project list-keeper. That worked okay, but I found myself having to look up other pieces of paper, emails, and online to-do lists related to each project.
This is about when I started scheming a cooler way to keep track of my projects AND some of the critical to-do’s for each project. Read on to learn about my process and to download/print the form!
First stop, of course, was to see if David Seah had anything ready-to-go. The thing that looked most promising was the Task Order Up cards, which I had tried using a few months ago. I liked the discrete nature of the cards — each card was good for one “task” or, in my case, one “project.” But I needed something smaller and simpler that would line up neatly in the inside margin of my planner. I fired up Illustrator and designed a VERY simplistic card.
The card is 2.75″ wide by 2″ high. Since my rollabind rings are 1″ apart, this allows the cards to overlap evenly. The width of the card also fits within my inner “margin” area perfectly. The individual nature of the cards allows me to reorder them, which can help with visual prioritization, and limiting the number of to-do’s on each card keeps the projects from being overwhelming.
With rollabind punches on both sides, I can easily snap the cards into either side of my planner — the photo below shows the cards in place for this week…
— and where they will go for next week:
I have a section of my binder — between my cover sheet and first divider — that was unused, so for now I’m keeping my “on-hold” projects archived there, along with blank cards that I can easily access:
I went through a few different versions before settling on the current version.
First, I had a black and white version (photo: upper left) but I found it visually confusing as the project title blended in with the to-do’s when lined up next to each other. Then, I tried multi-colored cards with the project title area left as a white rectangle (photo: right). They looked pretty, but were ultimately impractical because it took too long to cut along the lines (as I’m a perfectionist). I finally settled on the current version — a white card with colored title area. Initially, I tried all blue (photo: bottom left), but thought it looked prettier with multiple colors. The multiple colors now allow me to have cards for personal client work, PixelMill work, and personal projects.
- Compact Project Task Cards v1 – project-card.pdf
Printable sheet with 15 cards in red, pink, and yellow.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
How to use it (or, how I’m using it):
Print the sheet (make sure your printer does not try to collapse the PDF to fit “within printer margins”). I’ve printed my cards on normal-weight paper.
Get a paper cutter that can cut multiple sheets of paper.
- Trim right side by .25″.
- Trim top by .25″.
- Trim bottom by .75″ so that total height is 10″.
- Start slicing off 2″ strips (each strip has blue/pink/yellow).
- Stack the strips together and slice off 2.75″ chunks to separate the cards.
Finally, punch both sides — left and right — with rollabind/circa punch. The punch should be set at the 1/2″ mark so that the holes are centered vertically on the card. Each card has two holes. Here’s a reference graphic again:
If you overlap the cards, it’s then pretty easy to flip the whole stack at once by grabbing the bottom (or top) card, depending on which way you’re trying to flip them.
The cards can be easily rearranged by priority and transferred to different sections of your binder (I’m keeping “on-hold” projects in a different section). I’m guessing that I’ll keep moving these cards forward in my planner until I complete them; longer projects may take multiple cards that I’ll add in as I complete each card.
Ideas for improvement
I’m going to try out what I have so far, but here are some things that I’m thinking about that may influence a new version:
- Sometimes I’m waiting on something specific from someone else before I can move forward on my task/project, but I forget exactly what. Possible solutions:
- Use the back of the card for notes.
- Add the “task item” for the other person but make some sort of mark in the checkbox to denote that I’m waiting on someone else.
- Do I need a way to incorporate due dates? Will wait and see.
- My client proposals usually include a proposed schedule grid, as well as a specific list of deliverables, that I like to print out. Currently they reside in clear folders and are easily accessible from my desk. I’m weighing the idea of adding some sort of reference or numbering system to my projects, and then adding an area in the title bar to reference the project number.
If you try this out and find it useful — or not — I’d love to hear about your experience! Leave a comment!