Here’s an analog productivity tip ...

Thursday, June 30th, 2005
Print a next action form on the back of your business card.

I'm still processing an overflowing in-box, a variety of notes - both digital and analog, a backlog of blog comments - and a stack of business cards that I collected on my recent business trip. (If you're waiting for a reply from me, thanks for your patience.) Today, I will address the stack of business cards.

Over the course of the past 10 days, I handed out and received many business cards. As I received each card, I carefully noted the date, occasion, something remarkable, what we discussed, and the next action I intended to take upon my return.


Some of the people I gave my card to took meticulous notes on the back, while others simply placed them in their coat pocket. For this latter group, I wonder if, now that a week has gone by, if they even remember what we spoke about and why I gave them my card in the first place.

It occurred to me that I could do something simple but powerful to increase the likelihood that the people I gave my business card to would take notes and define the next action on the back - I could print a next action form on the back of my cards. Now, I know that there's not a lot of room on the back of a business card to begin with; however, a simple trigger list should be sufficient to encourage folks to think of and write down the most important keywords that will help them deal with these business cards when they get around to processing them.

Here's what I've come up with so far:


What if everyone did this?

Thoughts? Additions/Changes?

Discussion/Comments (15):

I love the idea...

If I didn't just print a whole mess of business cards, I'd do that. I'm surprised that no one else has thought of it.

Posted at 06/30/2005 9:57:21 by Rob Bushway

This is great...

Since I print my own cards using a computer, I'm doing this with my next batch, which will be this week.


Posted at 06/30/2005 10:28:42 by Paul


Posted at 06/30/2005 12:54:37 by Walter

Simple ideas make big things...

Just love it. Simple ideas make big things. Will definitly do it, and more than the idea, it makes you stand out of the crowd. Oh yeah, I remember, the guy with the business card with a form on the back.

Posted at 06/30/2005 15:54:55 by Thomas BRESSE

Be careful ...

In the US, I think it's a great idea, but be careful not to use these cards in Japan (maybe Asia in general?). It is considered rude to accept a Japanese business card and write on it or place it in your pocket. It should be accepted with both hands and studied (as I found out after taking notes on a bunch of them ;-).

Posted at 06/30/2005 20:36:08 by Mark

This is a terrific idea!

As a grad student, I am always networking at conferences. I'm also the one who can remember faces, but never much else after a conversation. I'll do this with my biz cards, and make a mental note to write such info on others' cards as well. I can't believe I never thought of this. Wow.

Posted at 07/01/2005 10:09:52 by Michael

Digital App Needed

How about an electronic application that does something similiar? The business card is transfered to another tablet pc user through the IR port. Simply point the machines toward each other. When you receive the other person's electronic business card, the ink enabled app gives space for notes. This app can be tied to electronic planners, outlook contacts, etc

No more paper business cards and one more reason to carry your Tablet PC :)

Just think of the add on market. For people who still carry business cards, have an attached scanner to scan in the business cards into the application ...

Posted at 07/01/2005 10:24:51 by Layne

Re: Digital App Needed


It's called a Palm device. Works well, just select your contact record, point and beam to another person's Palm device.

Posted at 07/02/2005 9:54:02 by Tanny O'Haley

Here´s an analog productivity tip ...

Very good idea! I will use it for my next card...

Posted at 07/06/2005 12:38:05 by bef1rst

Here´s an analog productivity tip ...

It is a neat idea... but I don't like it. It's probably just the design snob in me, I think it destroys the aesthetic of a card... but on a practical level, I do take notes on the back of cards, but *I* take the notes *I* want... I bristle at the idea of someone suggesting to me what kind of notes *I* should be taking about our meeting.

But then again, I'm obviously a little "me" centric. :)

Posted at 07/08/2005 7:38:27 by Dave!

Here´s an analog productivity tip ...

I am also concerned about the aesthetics, but the concept of using both surfaces of the card is almost irresistible. But wouldn't you prefer to control what content goes there, instead of the person you are handing it to?

As a sidenote, when I was in Japan in 1989 I had cards in Japanese with the English translation on the back. When I got there I found that this was going out of style, having two different cards was the new thing.

To Paul: you might want to see if you can get an ink stamp that will print what you want on the back of the card.

Posted at 07/08/2005 8:10:19 by Joe Gusmano

Here´s an analog productivity tip ...

Great idea. I think your draft takes up too much of the limited space with pre-printed categories though, that might not mesh with someone's note-taking.

What about "Place" and "Date" at the top (maybe Date right justified to save space), "Notes" just under that, and "Next Actions" about 2/3s down.

I'd also have it printed in a light gray, so that it's more subtle and easy to overwrite if someone doesn't like your categories...

Cool, gunna do this on my next batch.

PS: I hate when people fill up both sides of their cards so full of info that there's no room for notes! Don't do that people!

Posted at 07/17/2005 19:08:18 by Gary P

Here´s an analog productivity tip ...

Here is a 3x5 version: { Link }

Thanks for the great idea!

Posted at 08/08/2005 6:20:08 by Matthew Homann

Here´s an analog productivity tip ...

I clicked here from Matt Homann's site. While I love this idea, and what Matt, especially, has done with it...I just had new cards printed up and...they are two-sided. I noticed at Blogher that folks who normally put notes on the reverse side of cards had difficulty finding a place to write on the back of my card. It gave me pause. This idea seems like a good solution -- which means I may keep the original cards for mailings, and have new cards printed to hand out at events.

Writing notes on the back is so crucial. I wrote notes on all of the business cards I collected at Blogher. Now...if I only knew where I put them. :-(

Posted at 08/08/2005 8:32:05 by Yvonne DiVita

I love the idea of using the back of cards

I love the idea of using the back of cards in a useful way, such as the one you describe. I had a similar thought, which I wrote up here: Hipster BC - My GTD business card, with a surprise on the back: { Link }

The idea was to a) provide something that would be memorable, and b) give some quick talking points for people interested in GTD (and my coaching).

Posted at 12/17/2005 7:30:17 by Matthew Cornell

Discussion for this entry is now closed.