Using Artefact Cards - Annabel Bird


You might remember Annabel Bird, a London lifestyle blogger and interior designer, who wrote this excellent post about the Artefact Cards... we both thought it was definitely worth a wee interview to talk about how else she uses the cards...

Hi there Annie.  You wrote a wonderful post on productivity & creativity using the cards, and I wanted to ask you a few questions about some things you mentioned.

First of all, I love your 'project wall' where you rearrange and prioritise - there seems to be something in "spacial awareness" that changes the way we think about things.  What do you think?

For me it’s more about being able to see the bigger picture. One of the most helpful books I’ve ever read is The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. Organising my projects this way helps me see the entirety of what I am trying to achieve and when the wall is too crowded and nothing is jumping out at me, it simply means there’s too much going on and everything is suffering in the confusion. I can clearly see then that I need to move some cards off to the side into a ‘not for now’ area. I now have only four cards in my ‘must concentrate on’ area of the wall and that feels right for me. But having the other cards visible helps keep me focused on what my goals are.

"Keeping things visible" is interesting - it's hard to do peripheral vision on a screen, but it sounds like that's where your other cards are - not in mind, but in view?

Yes that's exactly it. I find if I write things down in lists and put them in a notebook or on my laptop I just forget about them and never look at them again. I like to be able to see my workload in its entirety and keeping the less urgent stuff on the periphery really works for me. Generally on a screen you are working on one focused task, writing a document for example, so everything else slides out of view.

You mentioned about using the cards in the finance industry, which I find really interesting, because they're not renowned as the most creative of places.  But you've found there's space and acceptance for the cards there?

I move around a lot of different companies and I see the same thing everywhere I go: people who desperately want to work in more creative and interesting ways but have never been taught how to. It’s a misconception that people in finance aren’t creative – everybody is creative - but many people in my industry just don’t know how to harness it and apply it in project work.

I have found that when ever I get my Artefact cards out people’s eyes light up. People take them off me and start stroking them. And then they try to steal them from me. People in finance will grab on to any ray of creativity they see and are highly enthusiastic adopters of new ways of working and are entirely open to, and in need of, having more fun in their jobs.

But the simple truth is projects are the same across all industries, they are the articulation of and implementation of ideas and so what works in one industry should work in all. Artefact cards help me order, adapt and explain my thinking.

Finally, you mentioned about your frustration with post-it notes (and yes, I totally hear you).  It's strange that the post-it has become so ubiquitous though, I think - did you consciously pick up the post-it note habit from somewhere, or had they just crept into daily life? 

I think I must have picked up the post-it note habit at work – that’s the first time I had access to exciting stationery like that! I think I was taught how to use them by peers. It’s interesting that we have adapted their use from a simple note making system to using them for the articulation and organisation of ideas. I still think they’re great for making notes but endlessly frustrating for us with design problems. A reader commented on my blog that Post-its are one of mankind’s most useful inventions but that now it’s time to move on. I’d agree with that. 

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