I’m blessed and burdened with an active and creative imagination. I regularly have new exciting thoughts penetrating into my concentration becoming a distraction from the task I’m on.
The burden I experience is how to handle these thoughts. I can’t stop them from arriving and I dismissing them undermines my creativity. I’ve learned that these thoughts are important and have provided solutions to longstanding problems. I needed a method to store these thoughts so that they’re shown respect but don’t seriously interrupt my flow of concentration.
I took to writing them down in paper journals and eventually moved on to writing them in emails sent to myself. It was not long before this method became quite cumbersome and limited in usefulness. Writing down thoughts in a linear note-taking method makes it hugely difficult to retrieve the information. Even using an electronic record in email or a word-processing document, there is no efficient method to find thoughts. Transferring these thoughts to a task-management tool was another new process. Thoughts written down in a string of entries does not lend itself to prioritization or sorting.
When I came across an online Kaban system I was intrigued about what it could offer but did not like the idea of having my information in somebody else’s system. So I implementing my self-hosted system with WordPress and adopted a promising project management plugin called Zephyr Project Manager. Now I have a tool that allowed me to self-host my own data, easily retrieve and sort thoughts, and prioritize tasks.
With the tool established, I came up with categories and definitions to define what a Project is in three different aspects:
a) A product (something that I’m working on with a defined name and purpose)
b) A suite (a group of projects that are do not warrant their own product listing)
c) An activity (something that is not a product or a suite of projects but is an auxiliary to personal development)
All three are tied together by Tasks (actionable event) and then are assigned start/end dates and priority levels to help guide what I should be prioritizing.
Because I have diverse interests, I needed a shorthand to help identify what medium Project belonged to and settled on this list of Project IDs:
[bk] – book
[cm] – comic
[dn] – design
[gm] – game
[pc] – podcast
[st] – suite
[vn] – venture
[vd] – video
[wr] – writings
[wg] – gamesite
[ws] – website
What really helped me to organize was creating the Suite [st] category. A Suite is a conceptual collection of projects when a project is not clearly defined enough to be considered a product. For example on-line business ideas are collected under my Cybersideline Suite [st] while a product such as CreateOrConquer.com [wg] would be given its own project. The benefit of the Suite concept is that I can place a variety of thoughts and things to do in this bundle and not worry about losing it. It can sit there and germinate until a project is able to be formed.
As Zephyr allows me to assign Tasks to each Project, I can decide what to pay attention to but no longer angst about thoughts being forgotten. I simply enter them in as a Task, assign them to a Project, give them a low or nil priority and they are always there to be accessed again when the fancy strikes.
As Zephyr is integrated into WordPress the main blogging functionality is not lost so I store written pieces that don’t belong in a Task or Project. The Pods plugin allowed me to create Journals and Outlines to store long-written concepts and ideas. For the first time ever, my combined projects and writings are stored in one place and are available to me wherever I go and work from as long as I have a web-browser. It has made all of the difference to my productivity and sense of organization.
Thanks to WordPress and Zephyr I can now enjoy the stream of ideas and no longer feel anxious that I’ll lose an idea or what I need to prioritize. My active imagination is now free of burdens.