Compact Project Task Cards v1

Compact project task cards

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!

The Journey

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.

Project Task List CardThe 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…

Cards can go on either side of planner

— and where they will go for next week:

Cards can go on either side of planner

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:

Compact project task list cards

I went through a few different versions before settling on the current version.

Rejected versions:

Rejected card prototypes

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 v1project-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.

Slice diagram

Slicing diagram:

  1. Trim right side by .25″.
  2. Trim top by .25″.
  3. Trim bottom by .75″ so that total height is 10″.
  4. Start slicing off 2″ strips (each strip has blue/pink/yellow).
  5. 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:

Project Task List Card

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!


27 thoughts on “Compact Project Task Cards v1

  1. Nice! (are you reading my mind?)

    I like your multi colours for categorizing. I just bought a second set of multi-pens so I can have my four colours.. me, work, school/books, and “other” 🙂

  2. I frequently forget about some of my projects and think this is a great and simple system. I wouldn’t work for me as I currently use a two ring binder, but I will remember if for when my system next evolves.

  3. Penny – I used to LOVE those four-color-pens-in-one (or, the massive 12-color-pens…) — you know, the ones that had individual sliders to push down your desired colors! I wonder when those will make a comeback.

    Kate – Thanks for visiting! A less complicated solution that involves less cutting of paper might be to use different-colored small post-it notes. 🙂 The layering might make it hard to quickly look at other projects’ tasks, but if prioritized with the most urgent one on top, it might work nicely to not be distracted!

  4. That looks great! I used to use something similar that Day timers had but now my projects are so complicated I need entire folders! 😦 But I think what you’re doing is great and way cool!

  5. Angela – Yikes, entire folders! 🙂 I have folders for some of my projects, but this helps me to keep everything prioritized in one glance! Or maybe my projects are not so complicated!

  6. Now THAT is a creative idea. Way to go! I may use something like this in my new planner iteration, currently in Beta. Keep us posted…

  7. Katy – Thanks for sharing the link to your form! It looks very well done.

    Kate – You probably already read this yourself, but two comments up, the “Project or Next Action Mini-cards” post has a reference to cool post-it notes that might work for you!

  8. 😉 No problem – It is an odd term that floats around frequently.

    A satellite device (in this context) is a mini-planner, or capture device, that is interoperable with your larger planner. Where one’s primary planner might be a Classic size, their satellite planner could be a stack of 3×5’s that they incorporate into the Classic planner for portable actions and ToDo’s.

    Have you experimented with a ‘project task card’-sized portable notebook/binderclip stack?

  9. I haven’t experimented with a smaller portable notebook, but that’s probably because I tried to keep my [junior-sized] planner light enough to carry around conveniently. As I work from home, there usually isn’t much cause for me to carry the project task cards around, but I could see how someone else would find that aspect useful!

    Of course, now I’m thinking about whether or not a satellite device (hey! I used it in a sentence!) might be useful to me….

  10. Whole idea of organizing time is great. I’m going to follow this for a month and report to you about it’s efficiency. One of the most practical and HOWTO’s site I came across.Thanks for sharing.

  11. I love the idea of these project notes – thank you for the download. I am on the verge of ordering a circa planner and I just haven’t made the leap yet. I think I am going to do it now!

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  13. Thanks so much for this!! At work I have a to do list of clients that I am working on thier accounts. Although my planner has a task column in which if I don’t get to an account today, I will write in the task column for tomorrow. This will be MUCH better as I can just move it to the next day and save time for always having to rewrite it. I may print mine out on cardstock so they can withstand the in/out of the bindings but we’ll see…will try with the paper first. Thanks again!!

  14. Thank you so much for these great cards. I actually printed them in greyscale so that I could colorize them by life areas. I will use my colored pens to write the project name in. This way I can easily see at a glance what projects I have going on and how much balance I am achieving with the projects I take on. Thanks again.

  15. on the task cards you could use a matching post it flag and write what and who you are waiting for when you receive it remove the flag.

  16. I’ve just found your blog as I’m in the middle of designing and printing custom pages for my planner, trying to incorporate some GTD methodology. I love how much you’ve thought this through and how detailed you are. I think we could probably talk and analyze this topic for hours, as I typically go round and round trying to get what I design to look nice but also be the most functional for the task I want it to perform. I’ll be perusing the rest of your organizing posts now. I am using a 5.5×8.5 size sheet using the discbound binding method (ARC from staples). I see you are using discs too, but am not familiar with the type to know the size.

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