Musings on Task Management

Musings on Task Management

I was pretty jazzed about the Task Progress Tracker this week, but after using it for a few days, I think it’s falling short. There’s something there, but I’m not getting the same level of buzzy happiness from it that I did the PCEO.

Conceptually, I think some good ideas are in here:

  • It measures not only completeness, but effort too.
  • It’s “nag free”
  • It visually organizes time into an easy-to-read format
  • Yu have a place where you can keep a list of projects to scan

I’ve mostly been using this as a “projects I should be doing” tracker, so other people’s experiences may be a bit different. The main working problems I’ve had:

  • That first 15 minute bubble, while enticing, still isn’t quite enough motivation to push to action because the payoff isn’t there, as it is with the Printable CEO.
  • While the 15-min bubbles are cool, without noting the start time, now I have to estimate time or keep a clock around.
  • Even when I completed a task, the “DONE” checkbox is relatively week feeling, despite the additional graphics dressing I gave it. I ended up also crossing out the item description, which helped, but still…
  • Given the number of side projects I have going on, shuffling that paper around was a bit of a chore, especially since each sheet tends to look similar. The PCEO sheet is quite easy to keep track of visually. These new sheets just pile up. Putting them in a clipboard helped. Rustling through them was also helpful in keeping the projects fresh in my mind, but a simple To Do list does that much faster.

So it’s back to the drawing board.

I think I need to decouple the tasks themselves from the time tracking element, and maybe really consider how to introduce the point system back in. What I want to avoid is double-recording of the same information, lengthy transcription processes, and having to juggle too much information in the head at once. With simple recording built-up over time, the sheets should ideally tell you at a glance that you are being productive or not and provide a sense of accrued accomplishment.

If anyone else has had a different experience, successful or otherwise, let me know! I need data :-)


  1. BradFitz 19 years ago

    After a couple days of use I’m still pretty happy with this as it as-is, but I’m interested to see how you implement new ideas.

    I now have a few sheets going and what I’ve done to help minimize the “clutter” is print out smaller versions. Print 2 to a page in landscape format cut in half. I like this size because my old to-do lists were 6×9” steno pads and that’s a comfortable size for me and my workspace.

    I’ve been using different colored pens for my different sheet’s data so that helps me know what’s what at quick glance.

    I also feel that the “done” check box isn’t quite satisfying enough when a task is complete so I put a big fat Sharpie line right through the whole item. Makes me feel like I killed & conquered the task rather than just wounding it with a check mark as it runs away into the woods with it’s tail between it’s legs. :)

    I’m finding that the 15 minute bubbles can make you feel good on a productive day, but also make you feel shitty if you have an off day. Not only do they reward you for your accomplishments when they’re filled, but they also hold you accountable when they stay empty. A two-pronged approach to keeping you moving forward and motivated.

    The only issue I see is long term clutter after a couple months, but I guess a folder or small clipboard could be the answer here. Have you thought about getting these printed in a pad? This is appealing to me… the cafe press book products might be a really good option for this.

    If you made a 50 page pad with the “wire-o” binding, the base price would only be $7.25 + S&H for any size. Mark them up to $9.99 and I’d buy a couple to start… one for client work and one for internal projects. Come up with a few different kick-ass front and back cover designs at multiple sizes and you’ve got yourself a sweet little product.


  2. Dave 19 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback Brad!

    I like the idea of the fat sharpie mark! I’ve been using pencils, so never thought of that. Maybe I should make the 15 minute bubbles look like bullet holes :-)

    It’s been years since I’ve looked at CafePress’s product offerings…had no idea they were doing books! I’ll look into that right away.

    Thanks dude!

  3. Roger 15 years ago

    I realize I’m commenting on a very old post, so you may have moved on from this.  But maybe not.

    How I get satisfaction from completing a task:  I take the whole sheet of paper it was on, crumple it up into a little ball, and toss it away.

    (Of course, I also get the sense that I define tasks on a much smaller scale than you do.  But maybe that’s worth trying too.)