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My Case Against Bulletin Boards

My Case Against Bulletin Boards

messy bulletin boardOK, how can I possibly take issue with an organizing institution as common as the bulletin board? It’s because a bulletin board is a nice idea for organizing, that doesn’t actually work.

On the face of it, it makes sense to have one highly visible place, off your valuable work surface to collect those stray pieces of paper that demand attention or offer information.  Don’t get me wrong. I kept bulletin boards (plural) for years. I understand the appeal.  I would go so far as to strategically separate one category of action slips from another. I figured I could never forget about something as long as it was staring back at me from my trusty bulletin board!

Here’s the problem. If everything’s important, nothing’s important. Nothing stands out as compelling enough to act on right now. Having a few key phone numbers up there, seems to make sense, but then they make company with lots of slips of paper and business cards and get lost. There’s no plan for limitation with a bulletin board. It tends to get filled up to the point of being useless, then it has that Where’s Waldo effect. It’s a real challenge to find something when you actually want to find it. I realized I was kidding myself.

When I repainted my office, the bulletin boards came down and the walls looked a lot better. The bulletin boards did not go back up. Anything I needed to make a point of acting on, went into my project corrals.  All business cards went into a reliable binder. Any loose phone numbers went into my electronic address book. I got one of those clear Lucite cookbook holders for greeting cards as they come in. It doesn’t hold a lot, but that’s a good thing. It forces me to rotate them.

I’ve been without bulletin boards for years now and I don’t miss them. The clear walls allow me to focus more on my work, because they are without distraction. In the homes I work in, I see bulletin boards not working for my clients, for the same reason they didn’t work for me.

What’s your take on bulletin boards? Do they help you find things and get things done? Or are they just another clutter trap?

8 Comments
  1. Good point about if everything is important, nothing is – in this way i ONLY post things tht I deem important (ie: do not lose!) like my tax papers or a receipt i need to keep on hand for some reason. Otherwise you’re right, it would (and sometimes still does!) get lost in the clutter

  2. True… I could definitely get a little cluttered with a bulletin board. Which is why I don’t have one in my office.

    Keep it to PINTEREST for virtual inboards! Much less clutter! 🙂

  3. “Important” can become a big category in a hurry. Still, I never knock what works.

  4. For viewing and sharing a well organized variety of items, Pinterest makes a lot of sense.

  5. I am with you that only really important, time critical items should be placed so that they are easily spotted. I don’t necessarily recommend this but it works for me: I often put a note on top of my keyboard after I stop working for the day, with the tasks to handle first for the next day.

  6. I like your note on the keyboard idea. I call that sort of thing the “sore thumb technique.” When something sticks out like a sore thumb, it can’t be ignored. I often see a variation of that with post-it’s around the monitor. It’s not the same thing because they tend to accumulate and the more things accumulate, the more they can be ignored.

  7. Guilty here of putting something “important” on a bulletin board and not being able to find it.
    Great post Matt!

  8. Thanks. Yes, I think bulletin boards provide a false sense of security.

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