Last week I was watching a documentary about living with ADD. There was one scene where the hosts were standing next to a large wall entirely covered with Post-It Notes. I nearly fell off my chair laughing because as you can see, I completely relate to that particular symptom of ADD.
Here’s how Post-It Note-itise works. Each time you have an idea for a project or a task, write it on a Post-It Note so you don’t forget it. Each time you have a deadline, write it on a Post-It Note. Break major projects into smaller steps and put each step on a Post-It Note.
If you are particularly anal in your madness, you can take five different colours of Post-It Notes – each colour representing a specific task or category of tasks – and use the corresponding colour whenever you write a new Post-It Note. And of course, you will need to create a legend to remind yourself which colour responds to which category – created out of Post-It Notes of course.
On the surface Post-It Notes seem like a perfect solution to the ADDer’s fear of forgetting something important. Once it’s written down, it’s not going to get lost in your brain. And there is a certain satisfaction in ripping a Post-It Note off the wall once you’ve completed the task.
However, there is a dark side to using Post-It Notes as an organizational system.
First, get enough Post-It Notes in one place and they all just become visual noise. You begin to tune them out. Plus, over time they begin to feel like clutter. And although I’m not a naturally neat person – I have to work at keeping my desk, office and house tidy (need proof?) – I do find clutter draining. Too much clutter and I begin to feel stressed. Too many Post-It Notes just adds to the stress.
Second, while the colour coding and lining the Post-It Notes up in order may start out organized, over time they just become a random mess of uncompleted tasks. Then I have to sort through the mess to figure out what I need to do next.
As a result, while I do still use Post-It Notes, I’ve reigned in my habit. Now I primarily use them for late night epiphanies where I write my idea on a Post-It Note and leave it on my computer to be dealt with in the morning.
So how do I deal with things if I’m not using Post-It Notes?
First, I switched to a white board. Actually I use two. I find the white board feels less like visual clutter. It’s white with black writing which is a big improvement over the five-colour Post-It Note system. Second, being a two dimensional also makes it less visually cluttered.
I use one of the white boards for blog post ideas. Whenever I get an idea for a blog post, I write it on the white board, instead of on a Post-It Note. When I’ve written the post, I erase the item. I use the second white board in conjunction with my new-and-improved idea/task organizational system – a binder.
I took my Post-It Notes and arranged them in order. Then I created “to-do” lists for each category (colour) and wrote them down on paper – complete with deadlines. Next I created a weekly schedule. Since I had five categories already, each major task/category fit nicely into one day of the week (assuming no work on weekends).
Each day I look at the to-do list for that day’s major task and know the next item(s) on the list are what I need to do. I use the large white board to break larger tasks into even small to-do items. And yes, I occasionally use it to record ideas as the come to me … just so I don’t forget them. But now I have somewhere to put those ideas (my binder).
This method seems to be working better for me. My work space is less cluttered, I’m getting more done and feel less stress.
Andrea J. Stenberg
How do you keep track of all the various projects, tasks and ideas for your business? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.