Task Progress Destruct-o-Matic Edition!

Task Progress Destruct-o-Matic Edition!

Run, Task, Run!Yesterday I was musing about the unsatisfying quality of the Task Progress Tracker. My good friend Brad took the time to post some helpful comments. Among them was this gem:

[…] 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. :)

The hours and hours of Veteran’s Day programming on the History Channel made me particularly receptive to Brad’s tale, which led to an idea…

I give you The Task Destruct-o-Matic!

Ta-da! It’s a refined version of the Task Progress Tracker, dressed up a bit to make it like you’re really attacking the items on your to-do list. Booyah!

Here’s how you play:

  • It’s still the same 4 groups of 4 progress bubbles, except this time they’re not marked with a “15-minute” label. You can still use them to represent 15-minute chunks of time, but now you have the option of having them mean whatever you want. Fill in the inside of the bubble whenever you make some significant progress. Fill in the whole graphic if you encounter more resistance than you expected; this replaces the challenge level in the old form. Don’t forget to make an extra-cool noise when this happens!
  • There is a new initiate bubble. I found in the old sheet that I actually had to sit and focus for a bit to figure out just what I’d do first, then I could start filling out those 15-minute bubbles. It didn’t feel right to fill in a bubble before I knew what the hell I was going to do, but I still wanted to. Think of it as a “Ok, I’m Really Ready to Start Now” bubble. I fill it out when I know exactly what my first action will be, and am ready-to-go.
  • When you finish a task, you can fill in the explosion at the end of the sheet. Use a red marker or something! Brad also uses a thick marker to cross-out the task, to kill it extra-dead.
  • If the task is incomplete by the time you run out of progress bubbles, use the fleeing guy icon to note that the task has been extended. Don’t let it get away! Fill in another line and resume your assault! You can also draw the fleeing guy on fire if you want, to show what a good job you’re doing.

Brad has been using different colored markers for each day of the week. With that in mind, I left this form black and white so the colors would jump out more.

I’m wondering if there’s a good non-violent way of representing task completion? And in case you are wondering: yeah, this is silly :-)

Still, I’ll be trying it out in the coming weeks—I’m going to be busy with billable work, so I’m stuck with this form until after Thanksgiving.

» Download 2008 Destruct-o-Matic PDF » PCEO-TPT01-Destructo.pdf

For more background about the Task Progress Tracker, visit Much ToDo about Task Tracking.

And for more form madness, check out The Printable CEO™ Series page!


  1. Jordan Arentsen 19 years ago

    I’m just starting to use this for work, where I do web design and coding. Looks cool, can’t decide if I should use this cool version or the more “formal” looking one. Thanks for helping my productivity!

  2. Dave 19 years ago

    Hi Jordan! Let me know what works and what doesn’t…I’m interested in tweaking this thing some more! I’ll probably make a more formal version of the destruct-o-matic, since I like the initiate and multi-level challenge bubbles.

    Good luck with it!

  3. Blaz 19 years ago

    Trying to use it …
    … thnx!


  4. Marcus Hast 18 years ago

    Hi, I’m a bit late to the game but I found your site by chance a few weeks ago and just returned to find this update. As I’m a procrastinator at heart I’ve wanted to try this out, and I’m just about to print out some sheets for a better look.

    You wanted ideas for non-violent versions: my first reaction to the “Initiate” above was the “Start your engines” command at a race track. Seems like a car/horse/whatnot race idea could work well with the general graphical concept. That is, a “start engines” at first and then groups of cars (with each group being 4 cars). Naturally you’d have a goal at the end, and perhaps a lap counter for the “continue” option? It may turn out a bit excessively cute, but I guess even kids can need a little help getting things done. ;-)

  5. Matt Jones 18 years ago

    I’ve been using the original Task Progress Tracker lately with much success, but I agree with you that filling in the done bubble isn’t quite satisfying enough. To mark each day of the week I put the date above the first bubble that I’m using for that day but coloring it in would make it stand out better for me. When I started I thought the original tracker would be better but now I see why this one will be even more helpful. Thanks Dave!

  6. Dave 18 years ago

    Marcus: Hey, that’s a good idea on the race theme. I’ll keep that in mind when it’s time to do some updates!

    Matt: That’s really great…awesome! On the day tracking, I have another friend of mine that suggested using different color markers for different days of the week, which helps them stand out. I’m not sure if he’s still using the forms…I should check in with him.

  7. Sonia Simone 18 years ago

    For an idea to make less violent (i.e. more girly), I suggest crossing things off with colored highlighters.  I have a great set of ten different colors that I use to cross things off on my lists.  I have absolutely no meaning-based color code, I just cycle through the colors because they’re pretty.

    I love this form, I intend to implement it immediately.

  8. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    I like that idea, Sonia! I’ll think about how to make a version that’s “marker friendly” so you can end up with waves and waves of luscious color when you’re done. That would be COOL!

  9. Bek 18 years ago


    Kudos on the Destruct-O-Matic! It is very creative. I’m going to give it a try. Did you keep track of the actual time you spent designing it? What tasks were you procrastinating while you were creating it? It is a relief to see someone else (besides me) spends a lot of time planning tasks rather than doing them. Will you consider designing The Procrast-O-Matic for tasks we could do while we are putting off the ones that we should be doing?


  10. dimeo 18 years ago

    Great minds think alike; GTD can be fun.  How Dorktastic!  Growing up, many of us were wary of careing too much about anything, lest we appeared nerdy.  Fast forward a decade or two and we smoke the competition because we actually give a shite about our job performance.  Sometimes too much and we get a bit perfectionistic, and have trouble getting started, feeling overloaded with the monumental tasks facing us.

    David, your stuff here helps to lighten things up, and make them fun!  Work can be a game with 3 lives and 1000 point bonus rounds.

    I frequently get a chuckle when looking over my list. To procrastinate, I Doodle a cartoon, spouting a dorky slogan at the side of my list (I like the 3×5 card HPDA bound with a binder ring).
    It lightens me up a notch each time I look over my burdensome list.

    If I’m using my Pocket PC, I add icons to Pocket Informant.  You can download them here.

    Color livens things up in a fun way. Dare to learn from the japanese school girls who use a rainbow of .25mm micro pens to doodle in the margins at microscopic sizes (google: signo bit).

    I’m also a fan of this simple and fun technique: :
    Bubble Map your way to stress free productivity

  11. Destro 18 years ago

    Dude your stuff rocks, but I just couldn’t get it to print properly on my crappy lazer printer. So this mod is darkened up to print better.

    PDF file.

  12. Keegan 18 years ago

    This is perhaps the most fantastic productivity tool ever created!

    It suits the inner gamer in me perfectly.

  13. Origjigji 18 years ago

    You got it to the point! The gamers, creatives and perfectionists (I want to start with the right thing…) in us are thanking you…

    I like things being noted, but seem to hate making notes about it. This might be a win-win light at the end of the tunnel…

  14. Eric Higgins 17 years ago

    Can you update the year on these? Still set to 2006 it seems.  Excellent design quality, very functional!

  15. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    Oh, I forgot about this one…I’ll do that.

  16. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    Actually, the 2007 form has been there since December 15, 2006. I didn’t forget to do it, but I forgot that I’d done it already :-)

    I’m going to remove the old 2006 one now.

  17. Kristina 17 years ago

    Hi David.

    For a non-violent metaphor, you could try these…

    Individual drops of water for the progress, a full bucket at the end for closure, a glass half-full for continuation..

    Or it could be construction—individual bricks ending in a building of some kind (the federal reserve?), continuation indicated by a half-finished skyscraper..

    Or it could be coins, with the finish as a dollar bill, and continuation as a guy running away with a sack of money..

    I am sure there are many more along these lines, but you get the idea. Dunno if anyone would find them as motivating as your bullet holes/explosion, but I thought I’d toss them out there.

  18. Sam Hasler 17 years ago

    another non-violent way of representing task completion could be releasing balloons.

    Alternatively you could go with a fireworks theme, with a detonator for initiation, small explosions for progress, and a big explosion for completion.

  19. Sam Hasler 17 years ago

    I meant to say with the balloons that there could be one big balloon that you normally fill in, and other ones around it to fill in if the task was difficult or you did a particularly good job. You could also draw in more balloons around yourself.

  20. Susannah 17 years ago


    Your forms…they are so yummy they’re almost edible.  And they give the impression that if you ate them, they’d be sherbert-flavored.

    The task tracker in particular is fantastic—and PERFECT for long-term writing projects.  “Work on my novel” is terrifying. “Spend 15 minutes outlining chapter one” is doable. The form serves as a kind of central time/task/idea organizer for a huge diffuse scary project—fabulous. I’ll be bringing a stack of them to a writing workshop I’m running tomorrow—the destruct-o-matic edition, of course.

    Meanwhile, I was thinking about alternatives to the destruct-o-matic and pac-man editions. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the d-o-m.  But I’m a girl, and I keep having these fantasies of a… less Chuck Norris-y version. Where the dominant metaphor is, say, gardening. Or exploring/going on a journey (the bubbles could be footprint-shaped). Or investigating a mystery: the bubbles would somehow represent clues, and the “initiate” graphic would be a magnifying glass.

    And then I thought about your whole motivation-for-the-next-step-in-a-long-and-arduous-task problem (BOY, do I know what that’s about) and the whole design-as-narrative thing and I thought: what if you thought of the whole process of making something (writing something, etc.) as a story?  That’s what’s implied in the D-o-M version, after all.  (I think someone on your “Story of the Day” post mentioned something about project-planning-as-storytelling). The D-o-M version would be a Tom Clancy novel; the footprints maybe Lord of the Rings-ish; the mystery one would be Sherlock Holmes. (How about a Jane Austen task tracker…the bubbles could be dance cards and the “completed” graphic would be a wedding ring—yikes!)

    What do you think? After all, when you’re reading a really good story, the point isn’t to get to the end of it so you can cross it off your list of things to read.

    I’ll let you know how they like the form at the writing group—and send them to this website for more, of course.



  21. Crystal 17 years ago

    I love this, but like Suzanne, I’m not so motivated by Chuck Norris.  I LOVE her idea about the footprints though!  I am suddenly seeing an idea for a whole theme based on a journey or race…

    INITIATE:  a handprint.  Kinda like when a racer is getting ready to start, their hand is on the ground.  When I feel like I’m ready to start, it means I’ve “got a grip” on the task “at hand”.  It can also be a wave goodbye, goodbye procrasination, goodbye…. (who can guess that I’m procrastinating a half-dozen important things right now!

    STEPS:  footprints.  Have a circle in the middle of the foot that can be the “normal” progress mode, and then when there’s a super-challenging session, fill in the whole foot and toes (more colouring! what fun!)

    FINISH:  a flag!  Leave it blank to inspire creativity.  They could be coloured colourfully, or made into checkered flags, or whatever.  Indicates finishing a race, or conquering new land, or whatever the user wants it to mean.

    CONTINUING:  an arrow, meaning “keep going!”  It can also indicate that the destination is “that way”, i.e. you’re not there yet.

    So yeah, I’m gonna bookmark this page in case I get around to doing this idea, because I almost like it enough to do it now—except, for some reason, acknowledging my own procrastination “out loud” is making me want to do something about it.  Doh!