I recently wrote about my Post-It task wall, and I wanted to explain how I've designed a system to keep track of the things I need to do. (Organizing papers and information is one of my goals for the month.) Basically, keeping track of my tasks requires three tools:
- Notebook (for notes and running task list)
- Post-It Notes (and a wall...)
- Small Whiteboard (magnetic is a huge plus)
First, I always keep my notebook with me. It's a Moleskine notebook with squared (graph paper) pages. (Can I just tell you how much I love Moleskine notebooks? So much so that both my parents and my in-laws got me some for Christmas.)
Anyway, I have a section in it for my running task list, and a section with my random notes (divided by date). The squared pages came in handy for copying down a knitting chart.
Now for the fun part. Here is a picture of my desk with the Post-It notes. As you can see, I now have little "header" notes with the days of the week.
Each weekend, I take a look at my notes and running task list and decide what I want to accomplish during the coming week. I'm not talking about recurring tasks, like taking out the trash; just one-time things. Each task gets written on a Post-It note, along with an estimate of how long it will take to complete.
I then arrange the tasks under the days of the week. I try not to have too many things for one day. I'm also careful not to put several time-consuming tasks on the same day. The Post-It note off to the side lists the projects I'm currently working on.
The great thing about this system is that you can move things around as needed. If I'm short on time and don't get to everything, I can just move the remaining notes to the rest of the week. Conversely, if I have some extra time, I can do tasks that I've scheduled for later in the week. It's also easy to add tasks during the week, as things come up.
On top of all that, it's a lot of fun to watch the wall get emptier as the week goes on. =)
I love this system, but I needed a little something extra. My desk is upstairs, and I spend most of my time downstairs. That's where my whiteboard comes in! I found it on clearance at Staples for $2, which made me very happy, and it's magnetic, which made me even happier.
Each evening, I take my whiteboard upstairs and copy down the next day's tasks. I'll also make a note of any projects I want to work on. Then, the whiteboard goes on the refrigerator so I'm ready for the next day. As tasks are completed, I erase them from the whiteboard. When the whiteboard is empty, I have a party. =D The next time I wander upstairs, I take down any completed Post-It notes.
This system might sound a little redundant, and in a sense, it is. I had to make it work for the way I think and how I spend my time (i.e. downstairs vs. upstairs). I'm a very visual person, so having my tasks in front of me all day keeps me from forgetting them. In addition, the fun of literally throwing away a completed task (or at least, the note) is a neat motivator for me.
I'd love to hear your ideas for keeping track of tasks and for planning out your day!
Labels: Organization and Time Management