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?