Growth Hacker

Internet marketing is my area of expertise. Past consulting clients include eBay, CafePress, DocuSign, myfab, and DeepDyve. Visit my consulting site at Market Extend.
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Post-It Note Project Schedules
January 20, 2010 Jamie Shiller OmniGraffle Templates Visual Thinking

How do you build a project schedule? If you start building a fairly complex schedule on the computer, you can actually end up wasting time. It’s much easier to build a project schedule with paper (actually Post-Its) before heading to the computer. Here’s how I make my schedules with Post-Its.

1) Categories
Grab a piece of paper and define the categories for your project. My schedules usually deal with Internet marketing so my categories often include email marketing, affiliate marketing, search engine marketing, etc.

2) Structure
Go back to your paper and map out how you’re going to organize your Post-It notes. Draw a large rectangle on the paper. One option is to place your categories along the top of the rectangle and the units of time you’ve chosen (e.g. week, months, years) along the left side of the rectangle. This gives you the framework for your workspace.

3) Build the Workspace
Take a roll of brown paper and cut off a piece big enough to cover a good chunk of a wall. Then make equally spaced vertical lines on the paper. This gives you some structure to organize the Post-It notes. Then tack the paper to the wall with some wall putty.

4) Moving to the Wall
Ideally, you’ll have some Post-Its in a few colors. I use green for categories, purple for the months, pink for items that require a setup process, and blue for the launch of a specific marketing initiative.

Start by placing the categories and months on the paper. Then create the items that will go into the schedule. Don’t worry about putting them in the right month or even the right category at first. Just get the info out of your head and onto the Post-Its.

Once you’ve created a few Post-Its, start shifting them into the appropriate categories and months. Keep going until the schedule is done.

Here’s a marketing launch schedule I built using the technique described above.

Post-It note visual schedule

5) Making It Pretty
At this point you can copy your schedule into Microsoft Project or another project planning tool. One choice is to use the Post-It schedule as the basis for a graphic that will look great in a presentation.

Here’s a graphic I made based on the Post-It Note schedule shown above.

If you have OmniGraffle you can use my template to build a visual project schedule.

I was inspired to start building project schedules with Post-Its after reading
Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes. The technique I described above is a bit different than what the book covers. I think the book would describe what I did as a variation on a bottom up decision tree.

Good luck with your visual project schedules!


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  • chris gale

    You weren't inspired to do this by John's beautiful rainbows of post-its back at RevCube?!?!

    I kid, this looks a little more organized 🙂

    How you been?

  • jshiller

    You're right. John's process was an influence.

    I'm good. You still in SF?

  • jshiller

    You're right. John's process was an influence.

    I'm good. You still in SF?

  • jshiller

    Here's a conference schedule built with Post-it Notes. UXCampLondon 1.5 Grid. http://bit.ly/bYw8yX