Prototype Card-Based Task Juggler

Prototype Card-Based Task Juggler

Card Docks and Business Cards 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.

Task Cards on Avery Template 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.

Task Cards World I’m already seeing some simplifications I want to make, and some changes to the design to make them more visually striking.

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.

9 Comments

  1. Mark Widner 8 years ago

    I love the idea. I use TOU to list my todo’s but I always felt that it was a poor use of a good form. I can see how that these forms along with either an offline or online ToDo list makes an awesome tool. If you can figure out how to create the same thing in Android it would totally rock!

  2. Frances 8 years ago

    These would certainly spur creativity better than the stack of visual cues I need to leave out for me. The biggest challenge for the visual-based mind is the “everything-out” mentality. Being able to see the triggers will allow that delicious mysterious subconscious problem solving process to kick in. And one could use the backside for a time sheet once it gets going good. I really dig your stuff!! Tx!

  3. Frances 8 years ago

    Also want to add that I am adding the pomodoro method to many of the things you suggest. There is a nice synchronicity. These would make great pomodoro tools too.

  4. Josette 8 years ago

    Wow, this reminds me of the kanban system at my old manufacturing job, but with a motivating reason on it. Colored tasks, three active at a time, backlog with an expiration/due date, very similar.

  5. Rachel 8 years ago

    So much more interesting and beautiful that Post Its! I loved your following post, btw , about those hungry coyotes. Hope you get them under control!

  6. Lynn O'Connor 8 years ago

    These are so cool!

  7. frenchris 8 years ago

    Nice and positive tool!

  8. Mario 5 years ago

    Are these available for download? I really like the idea. Can’t seem to find a download link.

  9. Author
    Dave Seah 5 years ago

    @Mario: I don’t think I ever made these available…I’ll see if I can dig them up and put them up. I wasn’t that satisfied with the design so that’s probably why they never went anywhere.