(last updated on April 29, 2014)
I was working through my project list yesterday, making a list of projects to work on in the coming few days. I wanted to make a few “big picture” task cards using Fog Creek’s card-based tracking tool Trello on my new iPad, but there isn’t a native iPad app available for it yet. While I can use it in the iPad’s browser, the experience is slow and crappy. So, I spent some time today putting together a prototype card system that would work with my index card docks.
The basic idea is to create small task tickets, similar to the Task Order Up! but smaller and simpler. There are three pieces of information important to me:
- The task itself or project
- The tangible result or deliverable
- The expected result or benefit
To encourage the starting of these projects, I added four check-off areas for a 15 minute start, which is sufficient to get moving. Furthermore, I added an expiration date (as opposed to a due date) when the task ticket is invalid. The idea is that these task tickets are created only when you intend to do some work.
I prototyped these using some Avery edge-to-edge business card inkjet stock, which unfortunately slips a lot through the inkjet printer so the design isn’t centered properly. Tomorrow, I’ll try using these prototypes to keep track of the projects I want to make progress on, using them as a kind of physical reminder of what I need to do and why.
After I refine the design, I will have these produced using a cheap online business card printer, which has greater precision, and then think about producing some kits for sale. These first prototypes are merely to give me an idea how easy they were to read. The 8 point type seems legible, but the large text is excessive.
The effect I’m going for is that of a “personal project forest” that I can set up somewhere near my desk, showing ONLY tasks that are in the creative-but-unknown variety. For these types of projects, it’s important just that time is being spent on it because it’s impossible to predict how long the creative task will last, or what rabbit holes the tasks may lead you toward. To process a task means merely allocating 15 minutes of work time to it, not necessarily completing it. The momentum that arises from even just 15 minutes can be very beneficial, I think.