Playing Card System

This is a system I developed in 2011, to bring a sense of fun and flexibility to my work day.

This system uses

  • regular playing cards
  • a black marker.


1. Buy a nice set of playing cards, that have an attractive, light colored back (red works well).

2. Complete short tasks (< 2 mins) immediately. Write anything else you intend to do on the back of a playing card.

3. Keep the deck ordered each day, with the most urgent cards on top.

4. Work through your cards (from the top), or transfer your first few cards into a daily written list (to combine them with email or diary tasks).


  • The cards have an attractive quality, inviting you to use the system. There is low resistance to using this system.
  • The cards make you think of games, making working on your to do list seem fun.
  • Playing cards are less expensive than index cards. However, to use up a card isn’t insubstantial, meaning you only record tasks that really need to be done (shorter tasks can be simply done instead of making a new card. And less important tasks can be left without a card.)
  • Portable and easy to carry around.
  • Extra decks can be added if you need them, or 52 tasks can be a self imposed ‘limit’.


  • Cards sit separate from other tasks, such as emas and yesterday’s tasks, meaning they run the risk of becoming ‘ghettoized’.
  • Relatively expensive, and non digital (meaning it cannot be backed up).


  • Try using ‘Tarot’ or ‘Patience’ type desk layouts to visualize your jobs in one view.
  • Use a marker on the underside of clear tape, stuck on the card, if you are on a budget and want to reuse cards.
  • Try shuffling the cards and pulling out a random task, to help complete sluggish tasks and overcome procrastination.
  • Works well with the Pomorodo Technique (timed tasks), even using hourglasses, buzzers, or other timers from old board games.

Our Rating

rating: 4.0 stars
A fun, yet flexible variation on the usual paper-based methods.

Your Thoughts

Have you tried this system? What are your experiences working with it? Any pros, cons, variations, or tips?

2 Responses to “Playing Card System”

  1. Keep It Up…

    thank you For Posting I enjoyed the info…

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