Thursday, March 5, 2015

Organization: Another Approach

Back in January, I shared my love of using index cards to help me stay on top of tasks. I come to you today to confess that I have strayed away from the index card path.

And so far, I am very happy that I did.

Here's the thing. Using the cards was a great start, but there was a drawback to seeing only one day's work at a time: it made it hard to look ahead and gauge what was still in the queue. In some ways, that was good. It definitely cut down on the "freaking out because there is so much to do" factor.

But while I like knowing that right at this minute, all I need to focus on are these two or three things, I do like having an easy way of knowing what else is waiting. That way, if I found myself with an extra twenty minutes or so (BWAHAHAHAHAHA!), I can easily deal with something that might be scheduled for later in the week.


This is the entry to my office, magically transformed (via the magic of sticky notes, that is) into a visual organization of the month ahead. This was absolutely not my idea. I first heard of this approach via a Lifehacker post, then located the book mentioned in the post and kind of inhaled it. A little thought as to how to adapt it to my needs, a few minutes spent scribbling tasks on notes, and I had myself a lovely month at a glance. 

But it's not just a way to SEE everything at once. This is also an active method. You can't see it in these photos, but with this approach, the object is to move those sticky notes through the various phases of a project. Let me explain. (And keep in mind that my approach is a little more complex than that explained in the post.)

Over on the top left are the notes for tasks and appointments for this month. (Future months and tasks that repeat every month or so have their own places on lower rows.) I take the notes for each week and move them to the top right row. The next row down is the DOING row: the things I must attend to this day. Some of those (work on the book, blog, spend 10 minutes cleaning) are things that repeat over and over, so the third and fourth rows are for tracking those. The bottom row (which I don't think is visible in this shot) is my favorite. That's where sticky notes go when their task is done, done, done. 

There's more to this method, but the basics are very simple. I love how it both limits my focus while keeping me aware of the rest of my life, so I don't lose track of tasks. Real-life example: I put dinner in the oven and found myself with a few open minutes. Tsarina had a friend here, so the noise level precluded writing. I glanced at this week's row, found the note that said "Write Super blog post," and moved it to DOING. And in about thirty seconds, it's going down to DONE. (Happy dancing shall then commence."

Thus far, I have found only one drawback to this method, and that is this: 

Index cards aren't very happy when they find out you've been cheating on them. 

What do you think, folks - does this system seem workable? Make you clutch your head and whimper? Any bets as to how long I will use it? One commenter (chosen at random on March 7) will win - you guessed it - a pack of neon-colored sticky notes. You know you want them!


Mary Preston said...

I love sticky notes. I know that if I leave a note things get done. This works for the entire family. When DONE the note goes into the paper recycle. Love it.

Unknown said...

I use sticky notes for many things - mostly my endless collection of lists. Not sure your plan would work for me. It would add to the clutter that already is my house. Then I would feel compelled to de-clutter. (Or just obsess about it.) But if it works for you, then Happy Sticky Noting! I'll stick to my lists with the things I add, just so I can check them off. :)

Colleen C. said...

My desk looks like a disaster area... I have papers everywhere, LOL. I use any scrap of paper I have laying around for my notes... sometimes sticky notes come into play. :)

Laney4 said...

Definitely workable.
I currently have several post-it notes on the wall beside my desk, and I refer to them often. Amazingly enough, SOME post-its are a LOT stickier than others, so I've learned which ones will actually stay on the wall for months at a time, if necessary.
Post-its are great for placing inside my day calendar so I don't have to write and rewrite notes all the time. I've occasionally even placed them on my monitor (when I've been desperate to remember something). I have a piece of cardboard (from the back of a notepad) folded in half in my purse, where I place my grocery list on a weekly basis. Post-its are great in there because they won't fall out, either in my purse or when I'm carrying my list in a store. I've even been known to place them on my back inside door for company to read before entering the house!
I'm sure there are dozens more uses around here, as I go through tons of them....

bn100 said...

sounds workable

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