This week we wrapped up our semester long project, Stacktus. It’s been a long journey and there was a lot to do at the end, and this is the system I built to stay organized. Staying organized is superbly important when working on multiple projects and it is a challenge I have historically struggled with, until now!
I don’t have a fancy name for this system, but at first it looks like a odd trello board.
This is essentially an array of checklists, with tasks organized into blocks inspired by Trello. I really like this system, and I’d say it got me through the semester, here are some of the ways it works, so that you can duplicate the system.
Every ‘topic’ is it’s own list.
I love checklists, but they always grow to long, making them had to read, making the user (me) very frustrated. Often you may find yourself tiling the list over into another column, this improves readability but is a very arbitrary action, often occurring after you’ve gone past the bottom of the page.
Solution: make a logical system for the columns, in this case very subject gets a column. This proves readability and intuitive time assessment (I’ll come back to that). It also makes it really easy to focus on the subject at hand, without sorting out the other subjects tasks.
Each day is marked, but not prioritized.
Day to day organization is very important, so days are marked by chevrons at the top of the divider (and normal a ‘heavy’ line). There are also many situations where you only want one subject, or an entire week. By using a visually similar, yet still different, divider for days versus topics you can filter your tasks very easily.
I am a visual learner and worker, I like to doodle my ideas, giving them weight and grounding them in some form of representation. SO that’s what I did with these tasks.
I really like the Trello Blocks, each is a visually distinct unit that can contain comments, tasks, due dates, and any other related information, but be very simple and clear on first look. By seeing how much space each block takes up you can gauge how much work you have in any topic, day, or week at a glance.
More stuff, less space.
Organizing tasks both horizontally and vertically is not a new idea, just look at a calendar, but calendars never had enough space for me. This system lets you use the entire height of the paper for your list, as an example one page laster me 4 months. And I stoped using it because the heights of the lists where diverging to much, hurting readability, not because I had run out of space.
This also lets us take a normal vertical list, and divide it’s height by the subjects needed, letting you extend the use of your page.
So thats my new system, it allowed me to contribute effectively to the Stacktus team, and helped to pull of a really great game. Weather we were making art, working out the menu system, or breaking all our code, this was probably the best organized I’ve ever been.
Maybe an app… or not, the tactile nature of paper helps ground everything.