Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Figuring out what TO DO

I promised Katie (who previously wrote this idea) I would write down brainthoughts regarding to-do lists and potential to-do list management tools. I started writing such a blog post in the past after finishing typing out a hefty to-do list and then getting overwhelmed by it. I am re-starting it the post because I have a good idea of what to do next, I just can't get myself to focus. (There's so much sunshine and interesting things on the internet! Also I'm kind of giddy about the task I'm supposed to do such that I can't start on the boring tiny place I need to start at.)

Idea #1: Single Task Reminder of What I'm Supposed to be Doing

I've heard people say something like, "What is the single most important thing you can do/should be doing right now? ... So do that."

Yeah yeah yeah, that's a lofty life-philosophy that is probably pretty good to reflect on every now and then, but I'm actually just taking about something that reminds me SPECIFICALLY what SMALL TASK I am doing. If I was pair programming, the other person would (hopefully) keep me on task. But if I'm alone, I'm susceptible to getting distracted by the internet or just by a separate task.

Sometimes I will actually write what I'm working on in a single not-saved text file. But I have dreams of it being part of a sexy styled webpage that gives me a custom link (like or something) that will maybe even save a history of the things I've been working on.

Idea #2: Something that helps me decide what to work on first/next

Last time I started this post, I wrote, Shiiiiiiit, there's so much to do, I don't want to do any of it. :( I had just finished writing a hefty todo list and it was quite overwhelming. I didn't know where to start and I was tempted to go through the list and try to order it by priority or ease-of-doing or something like that, but I really just needed to just start on SOMETHING.

At that point, I dreamed of a different sexy webpage that would let me paste in my TODO.txt and then pick a random line from it and tell me to do it. But it would let me say no to certain tasks and also track which ones I'd started and finished. For a given task suggestion, I could also say, "that's a huge task... the first step in is decomposing it into smaller tasks."

Idea #3: Something that lets me estimate times and compare to reality

I've been on a bit of a kick for estimating how long things will take and trying to become more accurate over time. Hopefully it would make me more confident and realistic about what I can accomplish, and also make me able to communicate realistic plans to other people. Maybe sexy todo.txt tracker from Idea #2 could ask me to estimate times as well.

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