Do you use card bleachers? Do you like them?

My daily task-management system has evolved to the point where I'm using a Rolla-punched scrap pad to capture new project requests and bug fixes (I'm a computer programmer.) I'm finding this surprisingly handy, except that the organization of these tasks is "a pile in my inbox or on my desk."

I'm now thinking about a 3x5 system to replace my notepad: one project per card, using the bleachers to show me immediate tasks, and an archive for Someday and Completed tasks (archive == box, most likely.)

Does anyone use card bleachers or a DIY equivalent in their everyday life? How is it working for you? Budgetary and space* constraints mean that I probably won't use the Levenger bleachers unless I see overwhelmingly positive responses. The playing-card holders listed in other topics look like they would better fit my desk and wallet.

Thanks in advance for sharing!

* I want them between my keyboard and monitor, which sits about 5 1/2" off my desk. The Levenger bleachers are too tall.

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This has been discussed before

Look here
I bought these Miles Kimball card holders to try out. I should post some pictures. Note to self: Add to weekend to-do list
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Searchbox is my friend

Yes, I saw the various "alternatives" topics -- there's a shop nearby that sells holders, I'm going to take some 3x5s down and check out their supply. I'm more interested in hearing if anyone here uses them. I clearly need something other than the Pile O' Tasks, but I'm not sure what.

Crib Rail "Teethers"

If I were going to try and make an affordable desktop bleacher I would start with these "Teethers" that fit over crib rails to keep babies from chewing the wood.

I looked at them in the store and I forget how wide (deep?) the slit on the bottom (which would become the top) is but I seem to remember being satisfied that a card could rest in there and still stand up. Worst case scenario you could "adjust" the depth of the slit and the height of the back of the slit with a piece of cardboard cut to the right dimensions.

I believe they would sit on a desktop but to save space you could try fastening them to an inexpensive desk top easel.

Card Bleachers


I bought the Cherry wood playing card holder from Uncles Games just this week. It's a nice one, I like it. It's small and cheap and it holds several cards per slot if you want.

I'm still sort of uncommitted about getting back to my card system, I do like Rolla. But moving to a new house I wanted to redo my SHE deck to get a new set of habits going. Got new rooms, carpets, etc. to take care of so I wanted to lay everything all out again.

I like the combination of the SHE setup with Julie Morgenstern's approach to time boxing, and the discipline of listing out the tasks I intend to do each day.

I'm still debating whether I want to put my 'schedule' on cards or just my 'tasks'. The schedule does work nice in a small rolla book.


No giving up Rolla

I'm still not sure how I want to handle cards that aren't in-progress, but there's a very good chance that my "archive" becomes a Rolla-bound booklet of cards. I can see the usefulness in having a place to jot relevant notes on the back of the project cards, something my current papers don't allow.

Come review time, I hope to be able to pull out the archive (in whatever form) and dazzle my boss with my completed projects. :-)

Aren't in progress?


I'm a bit confused about the 'handling cards that aren't in progress' comment.

My card file is a 43 folders setup plus some more for projects and other topics. Right now, #26 is at the front, because that's today. So at any given moment I've got 30 days or so I can schedule ahead definitively. I have my month tabs behind the day tabs so I can take my 'future' stuff and stick it in some other future month to review again or do then.

Example: Defrost the Freezer. Definitely not 'in progress' for 364 days of the year. When the task is more than 31 days away, it's just stuffed in a month tab. I think I'll stick it in February, because I can keep the food outside while the freezer defrosts. :) That and there's no holidays to make it too full.

I could make tabs for future years. If I did that, I could make a 'someday/maybe' item for learning how to ballroom dance. I'd probably stick that one in about 2010 or so, when the kids are bigger and won't be so much of a pain to get a sitter for. :) More likely, though, I won't do a card for future years just because I usually switch systems more often than that. :)

I got a pack of blank manila 3x5 tabs for my box so I made one up for an active project--something I can use for meeting notes and finished items that shouldn't get stuffed in the archive. As more projects go active I'll probably have several of these going.

I also decided to cut my scratch paper to 8.5x5 so I can fold it in rough thirds and stuff it in the same 3x5 box. I end up tossing the 1" strips, but I think I can live with that given they're misprints. I suppose I could make them into paper chains for the kids, but that might be just a bit too fussy for me. :)


Limited attention span

I'm a bit confused about the 'handling cards that aren't in progress' comment.

I'm confused too, and I wrote it. :-) I suppose I could just chuck the not-working-on-these-yet cards in the 43 folders, duh.

I still want to have the most pressing projects in front of me, and I like the satisfaction of physically moving the card over to the Done box/binder/folder. I was just getting hung up on where the To Do cards were going to live.

Hrm. I think I've talked myself into one of the playing-card holders. I like the Nag Factor of my projects staring me in the face.

Today's stuff


When I was using my card file before (last year), I had a different kind of display (DIY), but here was my process.

In the morning first thing, take all the cards out of today's slot and look at them. On another card, write the titles of each of today's cards--the essential point of the task to be done. Then grab highlighters. I have six colors from red to purple. Red is hottest, top priority. Purple is lowest priority. Highlight the items on that extra card in the colors to set their priority for the day.

Next, take out the 'schedule' card that has empty slots for the hours of the day that you devote to work (be it paid work or personal work). Write in all your meetings for the day in their slots. Then write your tasks for the day into the schedule--blocking enough time to actually complete the task. Start with the red ones and put them in the strongest part of your day. If you're a morning concentrator, then put your important/difficult/requires concentration tasks there. Move through the colors until the day is full, but don't forget lunch, breaks, checking email, etc..

The end result is your plan for the day. It should be realistic if you've made a reasonable effort at estimating how long you'll spend on each task. Now stick the original cards into the bleachers, with the thing you're going to do first in the most visible spot. Arrange the rest so they come out in order when you move the thing you've just done to the 'done' pile. Stick the schedule card in a visible spot in the bleachers or on your desk or whatever so it's staring you in the face.

If you feel like tracking how your day went in relation to your plan, you can mark that on your 'schedule' card in another color to show how reality differed.

Today I planned a bunch of stuff, but one of my red tasks took four times longer than I thought it would, which means my green, blue, and purple stuff fell right off the day. I only managed to complete half my reds, oranges, and yellows, but it was a good day anyway. The trick is to make sure you get all your time-sensitive stuff done first so you don't have to feel guilty about putting off the rest if you don't get to it. :)

So now, at the end of the day, the stuff I finished is in the back of the card file (done pile). The stuff I didn't get done goes into tomorrow (Saturday for personal or Monday for work) or even another day depending on when I'll realistically get to it.

I end up writing each task three times or more, but I definitely remember what I'm supposed to be doing--I've got my schedule card with my plan, the task cards in my bleachers, and my rainbow colored list all telling me where my time is needed. Since the schedule and list are dated, I can review later to see how long a particular task was 'on deck' before it actually got done. I usually don't review at that level, though. :)

My project dividers, numbers, and months all stay in the box. Only the cards for the day come out (or other specific cards when I need to review).

I like color. If you don't crave color, then you could use numbers for priorities instead of six colors of highlighters. :)

I had nine work items and eight personal items on my list for today. I made progress on not quite half of that, which is decent. None of them were on special deadlines, so I won't get in any trouble for doing the rest later. :)


Card Bleachers

You might check out the solution David Seah came up with for his Printable CEO series. He uses a rail that is traditionally used in restaurants for guest checks. sells them but at an outrageous price. You can find them at restaurant supply places, too, however.

Hi, I recently went back to

Hi, I recently went back to index cards and I'm really liking it so far. I use a regular card file box from Staples with manila dividers. It's in my top desk drawer. I have cards for projects and actions, and sections for things that I'm waiting for or that are on the back burner. I just pick out a few cards for the things I'm going to do that day and have them lying on my desk. Works for me!

Good for writing

I have the Levenger bleachers and like them a lot, but I use them for my writing rather than any GTD or productivity stuff. There's a newer design that has the step-slots on either side of a 3x5 card bin/box. That might work better for you, on a day-to-day basis.