Every now and then somebody is at our house, sees a bunch of post-it notes on the wall and asks what they are for. We tell them a bit about what we are doing and they often say “I need to do that!”
So, if you want to try this out, here is what we did, step by step:
First Step: Motivation (or Why would I want to fill up a wall with ugly post-it notes?)
Figure out what problem you are trying to solve. We want to create value in the world, but the way we manage our stuff, time, projects, money, and relationships prevented us from doing that. The mental energy of keeping track of our to-do lists in lots of places and not knowing what was a priority was overwhelming and kept us from making progress. We want to change that. Our post-it note wall is step one, we have a long way to go.
Second Step: Write it all down
We both got a bunch of post-it notes and did some individual brainstorming. We each wrote down projects, to do, aspirations, or things we need to buy. We wrote one per post-it. We did this until we had a post-it for everything we could think of. I don’t know how many we had, but it was a lot, probably 100.
Third Step: Consolidate
We matched up our post-it notes so that we did not have any duplicates. Discussed them to make sure we both understood them all and added anything we missed.
Fourth Step: Set Priorities (or Give yourself permission to ignore things)
For us, this is the key. Our 60 or so post-it notes are totally overwhelming if we think about them all at the same time. They don’t even all fit on the large bulletin board we use. Some of them (the ones with the lowest priority) are posted in a completely different room. But without specifically deciding to ignore some things for the time being they all just stay in our head and take up energy that is better spent elsewhere. We put things into three big areas:
- OK – These are things that we consider OK for now. That is to say, we don’t have to deal with them right away and we are giving ourselves permission to ignore them.
- Not OK – Things that are critical and need to be taken care of soon. We are only allowed to have 5 of these at any one time.
- Do Today – Things we are working on today. We can only have 3 of these at a time.
Fifth Step: Make it Visible
If you just do steps 1 – 4 and then put it all in a drawer or in the trash it is interesting but kind of pointless. It has to be visible. We used washi tape, cork board and thumbtacks to put our board up in our dining room. You can do it however you want, just make sure it is somewhere you see and interact with every day.
Sixth Step: Check-in Regularly
Every morning we look at the board together and decide if anything needs to move to a new category and decide what we are going to work on that day. We move things around so it reflects reality. Checking in with the board every morning is our goal, we are far from perfect on that.
We try to do a more in-depth check in once a week to really talk through anything that needs discussion or to be changed.
Seventh Step: Update Regularly
If one of us thinks of a task or project that needs to be done we write it down and put it on the board as soon as possible. The whole point is to not hold these things on our head, so the sooner we write it down the better. We have a shared list we can access on our phones so that if we are not at home we can put it on the list and add it to the wall later.
That is what we are doing right now. We have a lot more learning to do, and some big ideas for next steps, but for now this wall full of post-it notes is making a big difference helping us set priorities and get things done as a family. If you want to give this a try go for it. Just be sure and make it work for you, you don’t have to do it how we are doing it. And send us a picture, we want to see it!