False Starts | Skillshare Projects

YiRan Carroll

Art Director



False Starts

Photo source.

Oct. 8, 2013

I'm calling my project False Starts because I get really excited about starting new projects, but usually don't finish them. For instance, on Skillshare I have signed up for 15 classes, and so far have only finished 3.

I signed up for this class on a whim, and I'm hoping that it helps me to streamline my workflow so that I can get into the habit of finishing what I start.

As for my current workflow, it's pretty much non-existent. Case in point:

Yeah, I don't know how I get anything done at all. Has anyone else gotten as many DANGER! and Warning signs as me?

I'm currently working full-time as an art director and am also trying to refresh my portfolio. However, whenever I think about working on my portfolio, I find something else that "needs" to get done. Facebook. The dishes. Nap. You get the idea. Another good title for my project would have been The Super Procrastinator.

Anyway, I'm really excited about this class and I hope that it helps me put some kind of workflow into my life. Stay tuned!

Oct. 9, 2013

Phase 1 of project. I downloaded Google Keep (in place of Things for Mac) and Evernote. I also got a physical Inbox for my home.

I wrote down all of the open loops in my head.

I'm not crazy about Google Keep. It's a new product and I'm sure it will get better, but right now it feels like a super lite version of Evernote. I think I'm going to switch to Google Tasks, and also use the Tasks app in my Android device.

I'm starting Phase 2. I went through my email inbox and either archived the email, put it into Keep, or stored it into Evernote. An empty inbox is a beautiful thing.

My Evernote needs work. I kind of just threw stuff in there and there's no organization right now. 

Next, I rewrote my open loops as Next Physical Actions. The trouble I'm having is that I've set deadlines that I haven't been able to meet. Hopefully, I'll get the hang it this soon.

Oct. 11, 2013

I've switched to Google Tasks (in Gmail) and also downloaded Google Tasks Offline for Chrome. Here is a helpful article about how to use it.

I've also begun organizing my Next Physical Actions into Projects and Areas. Still needs work, especially in corresponding with my Evernote notebooks.

Here is a sample from my Evernote notebooks:

I feel I've already begun to benefit from my new organization system, even though I'm not even halfway through the course.

- I feel less anxious and stressed because I'm not busy trying to remember everything that I have to do.

- I'm finally starting to get to projects that I've been putting off.

- I feel more confident that I can tackle said projects.

Can't wait to see the effects after completing this course!

Oct 14, 2013

Phase 4

I'm now in Phase 3 - Organizing tasks in a trusted system. I have created 18 areas of responsibility, with various projects underneathe each area.

1. Career

2. Cat Care

3. Cleaning

4. Continued Education

5. Creativity Resources

6. Design Portfolio

7. Entertaining

8. Family

9. Finances

10. Food

11. Freelance

12. Geometry Global (job)

13. Herbie Likes Spaghetti (blog)

14. Home Decor

15. Home Improvement

16. Marriage

17. Personal

18. Travel

I created a new task list for each area of responsibility in my task manager (Google Tasks), and I created each project as a new task. Under each new project, I indented tasks that fall

under the project.

I also created the same folders for areas and projects in Evernote. However, this is where I started to get tripped up. According the the GTD method as demonstrated in the video lessons in Phase 3 (unit 4), I was supposed to Create 4 stacks and 1 notebook in Evernote:

1 Projects

2 Areas of Responsibility

3 Resources

4 Archives

Inbox (notebook, not stack)

Maybe I'm not seeing a bigger picture here, but this doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand why I would separate projects and areas into different stacks, when each project goes under an area of responsibility. Similarly, any resource that I find would also go under a project or an area of responsibility. If someone could please enlighten me as to the benefits of the above 4 stacks in the comments, I would greatly appreciate it. Until I see understand why I need to create the 4 stacks above, I have organized my stacks this way:

1 Inbox (notebook, not stack)

2 Archives

3 Someday


Cat Care


Continued Education

Creativity Resources

Design Portfolio






Geometry Global (job)

Herbie Likes Spaghetti (blog)

Home Decor

Home Improvement




In total I have 20 stacks and 1 notebook. 1 Inbox is its own notebook not in a stack and is the default notebook for anything that goes into Evernote, just like the video says. 2 Archives is for any inactive projects. 3 Someday is also for inactive projects that I would like to tackle in the future. The rest of the stacks are for each of my areas of responsibility. Under each stack, I have projects as notebooks. Any resources I find go into the notebooks.

I also created the same folder structure in my Google Drive, for which I use the desktop client:

At this point, I need to figure out what kind of documents go into Evernote and what kind go into Google Drive. On a side note, I upgraded to Evernote Premium this morning but then canceled my membership after running into issues.* That being said, I still have an active Evernote account and will continue to use the free version. I am currently keeping all of my heavier documents in Google Drive under the same folder structure, and I still have to figure out what I would use Evernote for instead of Drive.

Thanks for all of your comments! If anyone has insight on the benefits of the four stacks as demonstrated in the video lesson, I would greatly appreciate it!

*After upgrading to Evernote Premium, I started putting lots of heavy documents into Evernote. After awhile, I started receiving error messages saying that I could not sync X because I have run out of the maximum alloted uploading quota. Then I deleted a bunch of heavy documents like photos but still got the same error. I got frustrated that I would have to purchase more uploading quota even though I deleted a bunch of stuff that I uploaded, so I chatted online with a customer service rep and received a refund for my premium membership. There might be benefits that I don't understand, but I felt that I could have a better experience with something like Google Drive.

Oct. 15, 2013 - Mini update

Below is my morning ritual while doing my daily checklist from Phase 4: Cat, computer, coffee =^..^=

Pepper likes to help me GTD by inching closer to my keyboard and eventually obstructing my entire view of the screen. Not shown: his brother Herbie who likes to meow for treats while I'm trying to GTD. #catmom

Oct. 18, 2013

I just watched the videos in Phase 5 - Doing Things. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of of tagging everything, and I'm not sure how to incorporate them into Google Tasks. I'm going to have to think of this more and figure out whether or not I want to switch over to Things for Mac.

What's stopping me from doing that is the fact that I'm not sure if I would be able to access it on my work computer as well as my home computer. I don't want to buy it twice. Also, besides my computer, all of my technology is Android. I don't think Things is compatible. I have yet to watch the video lesson on all the different apps out there that one can use. Again, I think the idea of switching to another platform is a little overwhelming to me.

Overall, I feel better about my ability to get things done than I did when I started this course. I really enjoy having empty inboxes - maybe to a fault. As soon as any email comes in I feel compelled to stop what I'm doing to file it away. Also, I've been manically adding tasks to my list before I go to bed, when I should be sleeping. Hopefully this is just because I'm excited about the novelty of my new task management system, and I'll be able to calm down about it once I get used to it.

I also really enjoy having a place to file any reference material away. So far I'm still using my system of creating a folder for every one of my areas in Google Docs. I've purchased more space for $5/month and am happy with ease of use, flexibility, storage capacity (I'm a designer so there are a lot of heavy files), customizability, and ability to access it from my Android phone, my Android tablet, as well as my work and home computers. It's like having a hard drive that I don't have to carry. I'm really not using Evernote much because the interface is a little glitchy on my devices and it shuts down unexpectedly.

November 11, 2013

I started this course just over a month ago. While I definitely still have a ways to go in my GTD, I feel that I have definitely benefitted from this course. My husband has been asking to share testimonial of the results, so I thought it would be fun to do that for today's update!

Here it is:

"It's hard to fully describe the change that has come about since YiRan started taking this course, but I will give it a try. In the five years that I've known YiRan, I probably never would have used the word organized to describe her. This was fine, because there were so many other things to love about her that her occasional forgetfullness and lack of organization was easy to overlook. I tried a couple of times to help her by encouraging her to start task lists and even introduced the concept of GTD to her once, but it never really stuck.

YiRan got along okay, but always struggled to really feel like she was making progress in anything. This often caused her to feel listless, and sometimes even overwhelmed and depressed. She complained about not going anywhere in life, not feeling competent. Additionally, I was the person primarily responsible for taking care of many of the tasks becuase I was "better at it". Occasionally I would ask her to do something to take some of the burden off of me, but more often than not those requests would get lost in the black hole of disorganization. 

When she came upon this class she approached it with vigor, and the impact was immediately obvious. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of things that she had in her mind that needed to get done. So many things in fact, that the pure magnitude of them was probably what was stopping her from actually making any progress on any of them. This is probably not uncommon for creative people. By implementing this organizational system, she was able to take the burden of keeping everything straight out of her head and put it onto her tasks app, and actually start to make progress against her goals. She started getting things done that she'd been putting off or forgotten about. She became more reliable, and started taking on some of the tasks that would previously have defaulted to me. Most importantly, she started to feel like she was accomplishing things, feeling confident about her ability to handle the day to day and able to make progress against her longer term goals. As a result of all that, she's started to feel better about herself and her life. 

It's been amazing to see this transformation. I'm really glad she's been able to take charge of her to-do list in such a comprehensive way, and am extremely happy at the impact it's had on her life outlook."


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