Make Great Happen
We’ve all met that person. She goes through a pack a day. Her home and office are covered in evidence. Her desk drawers are stacked with refills. She carries an emergency stash in her bag.
Yes, everyone knows at least one person addicted… to sticky notes. What—did you think I was referring to something else?
Disclaimer: I am that person. Or at least I used to be. Almost 50 years after chemists at 3M created the first Post-It note, those small, adhesive-backed snippets of paper remain one of the best tools out there for planning, brainstorming, and organization. If you’ve ever used sticky notes to outline your work, map out an event, or manage a project, you know what I mean. Sticky notes are great because they match the way our minds operate: You can jot down ideas as they happen and rearrange things on the fly. It’s a tactile, creative process that makes sense on an intuitive level.
The only problem with sticky notes is that they weren’t really designed for the 21st century. Transferring your planning session to the digital world means either transcribing everything or letting the photo you took of your whiteboard languish on your phone.
Frustrated by this process, and seeing that no online solution captured the ease and simplicity we were looking for, I drew on my passion for sticky notes to create Cardsmith.
[Tweet “Love sticky notes? This tool brings them to a whole new level. #planning”]
Cardsmith was designed to bring the flexibility and visual impact of Post-It notes into a digital environment. Users can create boards, share them with collaborators, plan together in real time, and access their cards from anywhere. Each board is as open-ended or regimented as you’d like it to be: you can throw a bunch of ideas up on the wall, stay on top of your to-do’s, or track a project as it moves through stages.
One of my favorite features about Cardsmith is the way it allows you to organize every important aspect of your life in one place. When so many of us have to perform daily responsibilities for our businesses, families, homes, friends, and communities—not to mention taking care of ourselves and coordinating any big events or projects that come up—it helps to have a single reference point.
Above, you can see my “Monica Priorities” board. This is a super simple board, but it’s basically what I use every day. I have columns for each of my focus areas: most pertain to Cardsmith, but others chart additional professional projects and priorities. I also have a column for personal goals, as well as column of habits I want to remind myself to stick to: for instance, to take a stretch break once in awhile!
How do I use this board? Throughout the day, I enter anything new – an idea I want to pursue, or an action item taken, as it comes up to my “In Box” at the far left side of the board. I often do this on my phone if I’m not at my computer. Then, the next morning, I file each card from the In Box to its appropriate column, depending on what focus area the card falls under. If cards designate tasks that don’t need to be done right away or can’t be categorized into a focus area, I move them to the “Ideas” column–which is really a do later (or perhaps do never) column. My list of Ideas is the most populated section of the board. Like most people, I have more ideas for things I could do than I have time to do them, but I capture these ideas here because it helps keep my brain calm.
Every morning, after filing my In Box, I look at all my focus areas, cross reference it with my calendar and make a plan for the day by dragging cards into the “Do Today” column. Once a week, I review all of the focus areas to make sure the most urgent items are on top and the board stays reasonably clean.
I also have a column for Meghan, my assistant on this board, and I share this board with her so she can work her own list or priorities. I usually review her cards as well each morning and she often leaves me status updates inside the cards. We can leave comments for each other using the board comments feature.
Cardsmith lets me access my priorities throughout the day on my laptop or phone. Our mobile version is currently in beta, but once it’s released I think it will change our users’ lives. It’s already changed mine.
If you love sticky notes as much as I do, check out Cardsmith and get started with a free account!
Please share your thoughts and comments
How do you keep track of everything you need to do each day? I love to hear how others manage their projects and priorities with online tools, sticky notes, or different methods entirely.
To contact Monica directly, you may find her at http://cardsmith.co/
Image Credits: Monica Borrell, Cardsmith
Monica Borrell, PMP is a certified project manager who practices and teaches the 80/20 rule in project management: 80% of the value can be achieved with 20% of the effort. Her experience encompasses strategic consulting, enterprise resource planning, business analysis, startups, and executive leadership. She is currently the CEO and co-founder of Cardsmith, a visual planning, communication, and project management tool patterned after one of her lifelong passions: sticky notes.