Index Cards

3 minute read

One of my ongoing struggles is how to keep track of everything that I need to do. I’ve tried different systems such as Trello and bullet journals. Currently, I’m keeping most of my stuff in Asana.

I especially like Asana for the classes I teach. I wrote a small application that takes course info (start date, end date, title, and assignments) and splits out a file I can import into Asana. Once imported, I have a project for each class. Every day, I can look to see what needs to get done and start checking off items. Asana also works well for home projects and recurring tasks.

Where Asana breaks down for me is keeping track of emergent items. While it is quick to write down a new task in Asana, sometimes it is more effort than I want it to be. Besides, with the continuous onslaught of new projects and ideas, sometimes things get lost in Asana.

Writing down to-do lists has been relatively effective for me. Since I don’t like using paper and since there is something cathartic writing down items and crossing them off, I started using reusable notebooks. My notebooks of choice are Rocketbooks.

Rocketbooks are great for meetings where I can quickly jot down notes. I would then scan the pages and store them electronically. Once the notebooks started to fill, I would spritz them with some water and wipe away the ink. I’m slightly ashamed of the number and types of Rocketbooks I currently have.

I have two problems with Rocketbooks. First, with remote work, I’m always on my computer. This means I can type my notes while still paying attention to who’s talking. Also, when I’m on a webcam, it looks like I’m not paying attention if I’m looking down at my writing.

My other problem with Rocketbooks (and notebooks in general) is that it can be challenging to keep track of everything unless I have multiple. More specifically, I want to see all of them open as I work through items. This means that I have to cover my desk with various notebooks taking up valuable real estate.

My solution is Rocketbook Cloud Cards. They are 3”x5” reusable index cards. The great thing about them is I can have multiple cards out at a time. I currently have ones for my daily to-dos, big ideas, blog topics and issues, and wellness reminders.

They’re also great for jotting down quick reminders. It is way easier and more convenient to keep a stack of index cards on my desk and grab one as needed. Then, during my slow times during the day, I can consolidate cards or move tasks elsewhere as appropriate.

I cannot underestimate the value of being able to write down things that are floating in your mind. Once you write them down in a system you can trust, they tend to take less headspace.

While using index cards for me has been fantastic, they still take up some desk space. I tried leaning them up against my monitor so they would take less desk space and still be in my visual periphery. Of course, I would invariably knock them over multiple times a day.

I was looking for some way to prop them up. Perhaps cutting an angled slot in a piece of wood would be sufficient. Then, I looked at my primarily empty wall. Could I hang them? Pushpins were out as they would damage the cards, and I’d be making multiple holes in my wall.

Since I have a metal whiteboard, I started thinking about magnets. I eventually found the perfect thing: magnetic label holders. They fit my cards without damaging them. Every time I have to ask myself what’s next or if I remembered to write something down, it only takes a quick glance at the whiteboard.

The holders I got fit very snuggly. I tried sliding the cards in, but it was a bit too snug. I ended up bending the holders backward to insert the cards. The end result is that it is easy to write on the cards, stick them on the wall, and quickly rearrange them.

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