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Discussion Forum > DART Board Task Management System

I've been working on developing a time management system over the last few weeks that uses Trello to organise tasks. I've made a live demo of it public here:
https://trello.com/b/m3s3AIWH/dart-board-template

Feel free to have a play around with it live at the link above ... or make a copy the board to use for yourself

I call it a DART board, which is my attempt at a catchy acronym - Do Anything at the Right Time.

The inspiration for this system comes from many places: Mark's Do It Tomorrow book and Next Hour of Your Life post, Michael Linenberger's 1MTD book, my own '8 Folders' system and Personal Kanban.

The thing that made everything click into place, particularly the list names, was this comment by Cricket:
"I can see expanding this to next day, week, month, season, year, decade of my life." (http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2016/7/29/the-random-hour-v-the-next-hour-of-your-life.html#comment21612797)

Here's how it works:

Tasks are represented by cards and are added to a relevant list based on when you plan to do it - in the next hour, today, this week, this month, this year, or later. Tasks then move gradually to the left as they become more pressing until they eventually end up in the 'done' list once they have been completed. As you can see in the example, I've added some cards as 'labels' in some of the lists to help organising the tasks a little easier, so I've added labels for each day in the 'this week' list and labels for the seasons in the 'this year' list. Other labels could also be added to help your own personal organisation.

At the start of any time period, you look at the next list along for ideas of tasks to do. So for example, at the start of the day, look at which tasks are in the 'this week' list and decide which ones you'd like to do today, then drag them into the 'today' list. Then every hour, decide which tasks from the 'today' list you want to do in the next hour and drag them into the 'next hour' list.

Tasks can be added at any time, so urgent tasks that need doing today or even in the next hour can be dealt with ... and non-urgent tasks can be deferred until a later date.

At the end of each day, check the 'done' list and give yourself a pat on the back when you see all the tasks you have completed that day. If a task is a recurring task then it then be dragged from the 'done' list into the list that corresponds to when you want to do it next.

This system also works well for 'little and often' type tasks. Move it to the 'next hour' list while you are working on them and then when you've spent enough time working on it, move it to the list that corresponds to when you want to work on it next. So if you plan on working on it later in the day, move it back into the 'today' list.

It has been working well for me so far, I hope some other people find it useful.
August 7, 2016 at 21:20 | Unregistered CommenterDAZ
Very similiar to my current method.
However, does your category shrink or is it fixed? Ie: "next week", is that next Mon through Sunday, or is it ALWAYS one week out?
My categories are:
-Next hour
-Today
-Soon
-Someday
August 8, 2016 at 3:44 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
Hi Tommy,

I use a 'rolling week', i.e. if it's Thursday and something needs doing next Monday, I'll put it in the 'this week' list.

In reality, though, I tend to do most of my brainstorming about what to do in the next week at the weekend, so the 'next list' tends to get smaller as the week goes on and then I fill it up again at the weekend.
August 8, 2016 at 7:41 | Unregistered CommenterDAZ
I tried something that, and found the overhead of getting started was too high, and, no matter how wonderful the electronic system, there's something more restful about paper.

(I also tried it on paper, with file cards an a recipe box. Didn't last.)

You've fixed one of the problems I had. By moving a recurring task to "done" first, there's a history entry in the card, although it's only accurate if you mark it done on the right day. If I wonder when I last did something, that's important info. (Some things can be put off, but then get put off several times in a row. Oops, how long has it been since I cleaned the fish tank?)

(When I tried the file card system, I tried to mark the date done on the card as I did it.)

I like fixed dates rather than rolling, despite the overhead. Especially for personal goals, "Sometime this month," written in Jan, is still on the same board in Dec. It might be worth keeping goals for end of the year in a separate column from goals for the week, which happens to be the last week of the year. Or maybe use different colours for different levels of goals.

(You can see why I found there was too much overhead. Also, I tried to set it up on the tablet, and that's not a good way to enter a lot of data.)

Anyways, let us know how it goes. I'm going to resist it for a bit longer.
August 8, 2016 at 17:19 | Registered CommenterCricket
Oooh, I took another look at it.

For each time frame, you've broken it down within the column. Nice middle ground, and a nice way to see the sub-tasks for a longer goal.
August 8, 2016 at 17:21 | Registered CommenterCricket
Cricket:

I usually enter most of my tasks for the week on my laptop at the weekend. Then use my phone or tablet to just drag the tasks from list to list, or add odd tasks as I think of them.

I've made a lot of use of using cards as 'labels' within the lists to spread out the time periods. In fact I've just added 'morning', 'afternoon' and 'evening' labels to my 'today' list so I could organise roughly when I want to do stuff.

Other labels could be added to personalise the DART board such as 'urgent' 'important' or different contexts such as 'work', 'home' etc... This adds flexibility to the basic premise that each list represents a certain time period.

You could even add extra lists at the end to represent big projects. The cards themselves are quite flexible in Trello and allow you to add to do lists to the card, so you could have a card called 'Project X' and then have a to do list on that card with all the tasks required. The card can then be moved to the list that corresponds to when you want to work on 'Project X' then open up the card and check off the items on the to do list, then if you haven't finished them all, move it to the relevant list that corresponds to when you want to work on it next.

My idea is that a DART board gives a basic framework (i.e. lists based on your suggestion of next hour, day, week, month, year) that is flexible enough to be personalised to suit different people's workflow.

I haven't thought of how paper based version could work yet, except maybe to use a different sheet of paper for each list and post it notes for the 'next hour'.
August 9, 2016 at 11:40 | Unregistered CommenterDAZ
DAZ,

This is working out great so far. Thank you for the idea. I've made a few changes to better fit my workflow:

1 - I moved the "Next Hour" list to the first column. When I open Trello on my iPhone the first column shows up right away. I want to see "Next Hour" first. That works great for errands. I drag errands to "Next Hour" before I leave and I have a handy reference while out and about

2 - I added an "Inbox" list. That is where unprocessed cards go. They may come from an email, IFTTT, Chrome extensions or other sources. From the "Inbox" list, I move the cards to the appropriate time frames. One of the IFTTT recipes I use is that every time I add anything to reminders in iOS, it shows up as a card in "Inbox"

3 - For documentation purposes, I've set up a recipe in IFTTT for any card that gets dragged into "Done". It appends to a note in Evernote called "Task List - Done in Trello". It is set up to add the date and time that the task was completed and it also adds a link back to the card in Trello, if I need it in the future. My plan is to move that Evernote note out of my default notebook in Evernote once a week. IFTTT will then create a new note. That way, I have a note with all of that week's accomplishments.

4 - At the end of each day, I archive all of the cards in "Done". Each day, then, I can see what I've accomplished

5 - My lists, from left to right are:

Next Hour
Today
Done
Inbox
Tomorrow
Soon
Later

So, when an item shows up in Inbox, it either moves left, if urgent, or right if not urgent.

So far, it's working out great but time will tell.
August 9, 2016 at 13:11 | Unregistered Commentertomcal
Tempting. Tempting.

At one point I had a template, listing the days of the month as a checklist, used for frequently recurring tasks. When I did the task, I'd check off the day and move it to the next column. That was too much overhead.

If I remember correctly, you can also give cards labels (e.g. project, location, energy) and even colour them.

tomcal, I see IFTT often. What's the learning overhead? I need to be careful. Shiny new tool.
August 9, 2016 at 15:40 | Registered CommenterCricket
Tomcal:

Wow, I love what you've done with it! I wanted it to be flexible and you've taken the basic idea and made it work for you. I haven't really tried IFTTT, but I like the sound of archiving tasks that have been completed. Are you able to share the script/code that achieves this?

I tend to just use a piece of paper as an 'inbox' throughout the day .. or I try to put the tasks directly onto the list that corresponds to when I think I'll be dealing with it or when I next want to *think* about it. For most non-urgent stuff this will be under the 'weekend' label in the 'this week' list so then I'll deal with it in my weekly review.


Cricket:
Yes, you can also label cards (the colours are for the labels, you can't colour individual cards). Trello then lets you show and hide by lable, so this would add another dimension such as context to the tasks. I think Trello is a great tool and its flexibility means that this method can be made as simple or complicated as you want it to be.
August 9, 2016 at 20:58 | Unregistered CommenterDAZ
Using cards as labels is what made me try Trello again. It is working GREAT.

I also got a gentle push from Mark to start using Evernote again. Now it is becoming my second brain.

Sometimes all we need is a tiny seed of an idea how to use the tool better. So thank you all for posting.
August 10, 2016 at 15:54 | Unregistered CommenterIlse
DAZ,

Here is the link to my Trello recipe - it is working out very well. You will need to set up your Trello and Evernote channels on IFTTT, then choose your board name and list name (in my case, they are "Task List" and "Done". Let me know how it works out.

https://ifttt.com/recipes/452693-append-completed-trello-cards-to-evernote


Cricket,

Yes, there is that "shiny new tool" problem when you first get started with IFTTT but it is very easy to learn. Just browse some of their recipes and it will trigger some thoughts on where you might find it to be a useful tool.

I have about 20 recipes in IFTTT. It only takes a minute to set one up. Some of my recipes are triggered when I add reminders to iOS. I also have one set up to add a Trello card each time I add an appointment in Google Calendar. Right now, I am on the fence about switching someday from Evernote to OneNote so I have a recipe in IFTTT that adds a new note to OneNote every time I create a new Evernote note. The note is now in two places. I guess that is allowing me to procrastinate on my decision...

You can also use IFTTT to trigger on a time or date. I use it to create a new Evernote note every morning at 6 AM that I use for Journaling and thoughts for that day.

Enjoy!
August 10, 2016 at 19:25 | Unregistered Commentertomcal
tomcal, Sympathies for using two systems while deciding which one to commit to. (One of the reasons I'm hesitating about DART.) I've seen many people using IFTTT, but wasn't sure it woudl be worth it. A card for each calendar entry would be great! (I'm better at deleting un-needed reminders than remembering to put them in, esp when a group is debating the next meeting time.)
August 10, 2016 at 21:02 | Registered CommenterCricket
This reminds me of my Milestone Chart from 2013.

http://cricketb.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/new-time-management-tool-milestone-chart-with-long-term-planning

Yes, the links to my blog still work.

Similar thinking, but different layout.

Each column is a project. Each row is a time frame. More details on close dates, fewer on distant dates. Good way to check that projects have enough headway, including "Two weeks is normally enough to get info from everyone, unless it's over Christmas." Also to check if too many projects have work on the same week.

It was a huge table in Word. I did most of the updates on a printout, and did a few monthly updates on the computer.

DAZ, being able to hide all but one project (label) in Trello is great. On the big chart, I did that with columns, but the size got unwieldy.

Very tempting. Maybe I'll set things up in Trello as a reward. (Only here can I say that setting up a new system is a reward, and not be looked at strangely.)
August 10, 2016 at 21:10 | Registered CommenterCricket
Ilse:
Great to hear that using cards as labels has worked out for you. I love it when little things that get mentioned give us an idea or that little push. It was a comment by Cricket in another post that put the last piece in place for what turned out to be the DART board.

tomcal:
Thanks for the link - I'll check it out and give it a try!

Cricket:
Yes! Your milestone chart is very much like a flipped DART board. Like I said, this has developed very organically and I've always been trying to get the right labels for lists and time periods. Your comment about next hour, day, week etc came just at the right time. Trello also makes it easy to implement by being so flexible.

Like on your milestone chart I am finding that I am putting the 'big picture' ideas in the 'this year' list and then breaking them down more and more as they move to the left and become more urgent. I find this strikes the right balance between keeping my 'big ideas' for the future written down somewhere while also having the more detailed plans of what needs doing today right in front of me.

And I know exactly what you mean about setting up Trello as a reward - sounds great fun :)
August 10, 2016 at 21:42 | Unregistered CommenterDAZ
You'll probably find that the right labels and time periods change with both what you want to do and other things around you.

I got the milestone chart idea after reading Agile Results and One Minute To Do List, plus my earlier experience at school and work. Each of them had a bit more of the puzzle. Too much overhead / procrastination-masquerading-as-productivity at the moment, but it worked great at the time.

Great fun looking at it two years later. Some things wildly successful. Others were set aside.
August 11, 2016 at 0:50 | Registered CommenterCricket
The Swipes app (personal) does something like this. It even has repeating tasks.

http://support.swipesapp.com/hc/en-us/articles/201752891-1-Intro-to-Swipes-Productivity-System-The-Swipes-Way-

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.swipesapp.android

(Hover over the video / screen shot to see arrows so you can scroll through the other screen shots.)


Android, iOS, Web, all synchronized. Can use it without an account, but needs account to sync.)

Multiple labels allowed on each task. Checklist within a task.

Repeating tasks. (Next task is set when you finish current one. You can then edit the time of the new task.)

Record of things done (by when you swiped it). (Ongoing frustration. I want to know when I finished things, without having to run to the cell phone every time I finish something. No app seems to do this.)

Free.

Integrates with EverNote. (Apparently checkboxes in EN become sub-tasks in Swipes, and they stay in sync.)

++++

I used it for a few days, and it felt like a treadmill. I was constantly swiping things to a future time, although there were things I could have done to reduce this. In settings, I told it that if I snooze a task, put it ahead by only an hour. I was also too optimistic about what I'd get done each day (something I do often).
December 27, 2016 at 0:48 | Unregistered CommenterCricket