A (short) story of how PROJO was born
It took me a little more than one day to design PROJO. It took me time and a lot of trials to find the right balance between structure and freedom and to create a whole planning system. Because I wanted PROJO to answer my needs (and that’s the starting point of this adventure) but also your expectations. As the pre-sales of the PROJO system started last week, I thought you may be interested in learning a bit more about the design process of PROJO.
So let me take you back in time and give you a sneak peek of my PROJO adventure so far!
Where it all starts
The idea of designing a planning tool isn’t new for me. It’s been in me for a little while now. Actually, since I started to use the bullet journal system and to share my planning adventures on Instagram and then here on the blog, this idea has been constantly growing. The free printables you can find in the blog’s Library were just the first step of the journey that led me to the creation of PROJO.
The PROJO project was born back in July. Even though the idea was then already rolling in my head for over a year, I waited to be back from my adventures in Ecuador to take the plunge and start working on it at last.
And if you’re wondering what pushed me to take start this at this time over any other moment well… I guess my first collab with Soumkine proved me I was able to do it, and my friends told me more than once that I had nothing to lose trying.
The hardest part in starting this was actually to convince myself that the risk I was taking were not that big, and that it was the perfect opportunity to get back to design and to learn a lot.
In a previous life, and before I started to share my bullet journal adventures here on the blog, I’ve studied design, and then became a project manager for innovation programs. Being a designer as always had a great influence on everything I do. And getting back to designing things, and in this case, creating a planning tool, was a very natural way to express my need to do craft something that would help others in their everyday life.
As I already have experience in both design and project management, the design of the first version of PROJO was the easiest step to take. At this point, PROJO was just the P. Book (projects book) really, and it only took me a few days to decide what I wanted to put in it and to outline the spreads on my computer.
At this stage of the design, this is what the weekly layout of the P. Book looked like:
some space for key projects, a running task list and an entire notes page.
Once I was satisfied with this first version, I printed it and started to test the layouts myself, replacing my bullet journal with the P. Book.
I soon realised the P. Book wasn’t enough not only to manage projects, but also to help me manage my everyday life: it was lacking space of freedom where I would be able to unleash my creativity, take notes, create collections without any frame to restrain myself. A space to document my ideas, sketches and everything that is needed to design and document a project.
In my opinion, documenting a project is about as important as planning it. Having a place to keep all your notes and ideas is actually critical to be able to report to someone else if you need to, or just to have an history of the project somewhere. This way, you’re sure you don’t lose track of any ideas, and even though you don’t use them on this project, they may be of great help to feed your future plans.
And that is to answer this need of documenting projects and jot down lists and ideas that the N. Book was born, making the PROJO system a whole planning tool.
On the left, the P. Book (projects book) to plan your projects and everyday life, on the right, the N. Book (notes book)
to hold all your notes, ideas and collections and to dcoument your projects.
The rest of the design process has been dedicated to creating the quick start guide that comes with the P. Book. And it’s actually been way harder and longer than I initially thought it would.
The goal here was to be straight to the point (it says “quick” right?), but also very informative to give you all the tips needed to help you be off to a great start with your P. Book. Believe me, the temptation of writing way too much was great… So I spent days to refine the content of the guide, trying to make it simple and clear. I was working on and off on it, giving myself time to take a step back and make sure I wasn’t missing any point.
The quick start guide
As for my desire to share more than just what I could put in the guide… I solved that problem with the exclusive PROJO online Library. In this resources center, you’ll find additional planning tips, planning worksheets and printable files to help you adapt your PROJO to your specific needs (trackers, budget spreads, year at a glance…).
That is the point where the PROJO system was born: 2 books to balance structure and freedom, a guide to help you get started and an online resources center to take your planning game to the next level.
August – September 2018
As I said, my education in design is never far when it comes to create things. In the Design Thinking, there’s one step that any creator should NEVER miss: the users tests. The aim of this users tests was really to get feedback on the PROJO system, and especially the content of the P. Book (project book) and how well the 2 books were working together to create a balanced system. It was also the perfect occasion to make sure I wasn’t only answering my needs, but also yours too.
So I organized a bêta test with some of the Planners Secret Society members. After reading the 170+ applications I received in a few days, I had to chose 10 users to receive either a hard copy or a printable version of the P. Book.
The main criteria to pick the testers among all the applicants was their level of knowledge about project management: I wanted to receive feedback from both experts and newbies to make sure PROJO would fit the needs of very different kind of people.
Once the PROJO were on their way to the testers’ doors, I worked on the feedback form that would allow them to give me their feedback (either positive or negative) on their PROJO experience.
The last step of the users tests was to process all the individual feedbacks and to revise the design of PROJO accordingly.
And that’s this version, already improved thanks to the users test, that you can find for pre-sale on Kickstarter.
The prototypes from the very first version of the P. Book to the real PROJO.
As the testers were busy using their PROJOs, taking notes on their experience along the way, my mission was pretty clear: find a solution to craft the various items that form PROJO, including the books, the clear cover, but also the labels.
If I could dream of something, that would be a world where I’d be able to craft all these items myself in my studio in Paris, and offer you a 100% hand crafted PROJO… But my dream is out of reach (for now), and that means that some parts of PROJO will be manufactured by third parties.
That is the case for the books and clear covers, that will be handled by French small businesses.
I’ll craft everything else (labels, quick start guides, Thank you cards..) in my parisian workshop (aka the spare room of my flat). Until I can invest in some printing and binding equipment to take care of the books myself.
My goal for 2019: create a mini printing studio with a killer printer, paper cutter and stapler to offer a “made in Paris” version of PROJO!
My current binding tools… Enough to bind some prototypes but definitely not to craft more than a few PROJOs!
Well, that’s where we stand…
And I hope that’s not the end of the PROJO story.
Actually, that could just be the beginning! As we just hit more than 200% of the initial funding goal on Kickstarter, it seems like you also want to bring PROJO to life and (why not) make it grow!
Your enthusiasm has filled me with energy and I already have a thousand further ideas to help you use PROJO at its best and manage all your projects!