If your work is mostly self-directed like mine, you know it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And once you do, you get stuck deciding which of your million projects deserves immediate focus and which needs to be “sacrificed” for now. You might get decision paralysis, or worse, you might become extremely reactive and only work on the “squeakiest wheel” projects. It got really bad for me this year. I was drowning in what felt like an endless pile of work — and if I worked on anything, it felt like failing at something else. I froze, and ended up really disappointing clients because of my overwhelm. But it got better. I designed something to help me. Enter project cards.
The idea is simple — I would let “fate” decide what I should work on. That is, on days when I feel the darkness of indecision crawl in, I bust out these cards. On the back of each, I write down a project/task I need to be working on. Then I shuffle the deck —whatever random card I pull out, that’s the project I need to do *something* for right away. Not everything, but something.
At first I started with a simple prototype — I took an old deck of cards, and wrote my tasks in sharpie on each, and shuffled. And it worked!! I moved on so many tasks, because I was able to circumvent the part of my day where I have to actively *decide* which of my tasks are more important than others. I just let the deck of cards decide. This became a permission system that tricked me into focusing on one thing at a time, and be confident that I’ll get to everything else later. Perhaps the fact that they’re physical cards made me feel like my workload is more manageable, and above all FINITE.
So there it is. The project card system is awesome. I highly recommend trying this with an old deck of cards. I’ve also recently designed and manufactured a nice-looking deck of these so I can stop using my the prototype. I’ve been using them almost daily since. And I can’t wait for other people to try to do this with me!
I’m currently planning on just sharing these with friends, but I’m also considering putting them up for sale. Let me know if you’d be interested in a deck, and I’ll work something out 🙂