Off the heels of analyzing my financial earnings and code contributions, I am sharing how I organize tasks for work.
When meeting someone for the very first time, I say that I am a graphic designer and computer programmer. I often get a puzzled look, “how do you do both?” they ask. It is a great question and there is no right answer. As described in previous posts, my creative process is both measured and chaotic. So, I need a system that is able to embrace each. Today, I am publishing my Project Task List publicly (and with comments enabled) in an effort to make my working process more transparent. This is by no means a finished methodology. So, if you have suggestions or feedback, please reach out.
The Project Task List is a notion page to organize my projects, client work, and general to do’s. By default, it is organized in different states from “Not Started” to “Completed”. “Not Started” refers to project ideas or things I would like to do. It serves as a great funnel to jot down ideas and tasks. I always refine them later. “Completed” are all my projects and tasks that I am done working on and successfully delivered. It is a nice archive to browse when my self esteem is low. The cards under “In Progress” are the things I am working on for the current week. “On Deck” are items that I will tend to once something “In Progress” is finished. “For Review” is a column specifically for my client work. When I submit something and am waiting for them to get back to me with feedback. I do not have to do anything, but I do not want to forget about it. Lastly, “Incomplete” are tasks that did not make it to completion and will not be revisited.
So, how does this simple task list embrace the measured and the chaotic in my creative process? Like all good lists, it is inherently measured because I document all my work here. At any time, I can see what I have done, what I am doing, and what I want to do. This is measured because the industries I work in move fast: technology, art, culture, design. On any given a day a new tool, concept, show, or app comes out. Sometimes all of the above! Having a place I can revisit to orient my priorities is very important. This list achieves that. While it orients me, it is not too strict. Some of my cards go from “Not Started” to “In Progress” only to go back to “Not Started” when I realize it was more difficult than I previously thought. In addition, tags are optional and allow me to express various themes or larger project initiatives I am working on. Sometimes I do not realize those themes or bigger initiatives until I look at my Project Task List. The task list can be viewed and filtered by these tags (see the All Tasks tab). This looseness allows me to chaotically drop ideas in how I want. Then I can organize them later.
The task list is not without its downsides. Notion costs $10 per moth per user at the volume that I use it. For perspective, this is more expensive than my costs for Google Workspace, virtual phone number, mail forwarding via PO Box, code management, and S Corporation registered agent. Also, I do not take advantage of all the views Notion offers. It can display a calendar and project timeline views. For whatever reason, I have a hard time keeping track of dates in Notion. Finally, it has poor integration with Github where I track all code related issues on any given project. It would be amazing to sync all my issues from all my repositories on Notion. Then I would have one place to view even more of my efforts.
I have only used this task list for three years. While useful, I can see it being more interesting to explore as the years pass and cards pile up. This encourages me to continue with it.