Can’t see the wood for the trees?
Do you ever have that feeling of being disoriented with everything you do and don’t know how to do that health check on how you’re getting on?
Sure your lists are in place and you’re working through your priorities and there’s always something to do next. But it’s that sensation or nagging thought, what have I missed?
Do you trust your productivity system and tools? Probably. I mean, what can go wrong…
But what about your self discipline? Did you stick to the plan, did you put everything on that list? What if there’s something I forgot?
And then you continue. You add more, because you can manage it. After all you’re productive, you have a system and it works.
But do you really know that you’ve got it all covered?
I recognized all of this in myself recently. My systems were working fine and I was keeping the GTD discipline each day. I felt able to take on multiple new projects, both professionally and personally and over a few months had added around 10-15 new complex parallel projects.
While my systems, OmniFocus in my professional life and Apple reminders for my personal todos, had lists of individual prioritized tasks; I couldn’t really get a quick overview of it all to know I was on top of things and doing my best work.
I needed a visual overview that just had the headlines for each project. Some way of knowing which project needed my attention next, not just the tasks it contained.
For me, it had to be digital. (Read my other posts to know why.) I pictured a kanban board for this purpose. A series of digital buckets containing simple labels that I could easily read for each and every project at the same time.
I was also curious about whether I could link a kanban board to my GTD system so with a single click I could go from this digital overview to my task list.
The answer was Trello (again).
This is an application that I keep returning to when I need a visual of multiple parallel activities at one time. I’ve used it in the past for creating content and scheduling social media. It’s also a great tool for a simple timeline for launching a start up business.
My “workload” Trello kanban board has lists laid side by side and these are my active projects. Inside each list you can enter cards of information and for me I title each card as the stages in the project it sits in. A meeting building project would have a concept design stage for example. I also add a summary card which provides some limited project information such as the date it is due to complete. It’s within this card that I can add URL links to my OmniFocus tasks for that project. This way I’m not duplicating my data entry.
I then use Trello’s label feature to add colours to the cards. Red is for action, yellow is for when I’m waiting for a clients input and green is for complete.
Now I have my overview of all my work. My GTD system continues in parallel but now I can see when each overall project needs attention at the same time or when I may need to follow up for a client decision.
Trello is a free application for doing some basics like this and it works well. I keep coming back to it after all.