When there’s a lot of activity going on, I like to use physical reminders in my work environment. Inspired by an busy diner, I modeled The Task Order Up! (TOU) on the order check rail that the waiters and cooks were using to get my sandwich out as quickly as possible.
Each TOU is a ticket that represents a project. Line ‘em up! Prioritize them by the day! What I like about the system is that coworkers can see what you’re doing and how busy you are at-a-glance. Not only is it efficient, but it’s also pretty amusing to have a restaurant check rail in your office space.
Each task ticket has a to-do list and a hour tracker, along with project metadata (jobcode, deliverable, etc). Here’s how they break down (click the image to see it larger):
Use one task ticket per self-contained project; if you think of it as representing a “complete order” that is served all at once, that’s what I’m talking about.
Prioritize your tasks by putting the most important ones on the left. Juggle them as necessary. You can also use these tickets to label bundles of work or assign projects.
I’ve heard stories of software developers using the Task Order Up to keep track of all the feature requests being dumped on them. Some people use cork boards or magnetic clasps. Some just prop them up on an index card holder.
If you have a check rail, you can use the 3-UP version and cut it into strips. The top of the ticket is designed to have information that can be hidden by the 1-inch grabber mechanism in the check rail.
The idea of using physical markers to track tasks is similar to Kan-Ban boards.
The first version of the TOU was created in May 2006. The original post describes each design feature in greater detail. Enjoy!
Tip: To download the PDFs to your computer, right-click (control-click on Macs) the links and choose "Save Link As..."
Tip: Click the thumbnail images to see what the form looks like before downloading.
Note for A4 paper users: The 3-Up and 4-Up templates are US Letter sized, but should print fine on A4-sized stock, as the active area fits within A4’s 8.26 x 11.69″ dimensions. Print as 100%, centered through your printer driver.
Note for A4 paper users: The 2-Up template is US Letter sized, but should print fine on A4-sized stock, as the active area fits within A4’s 8.26 x 11.69″ dimensions. Print as 100%, centered through your printer driver.
TIP: To download the PDFs to your computer, right-click (control-click on Macs) the links and choose "Save Link As..." Adobe Acrobat Reader is recommended for printing. The built-in "Mac OS X Preview" and "Chrome Browser" PDF viewers do not always draw dotted lines correctly.