This is a bloody good idea. It builds upon my own Virgoen tendancies to write lists and tick things off, but what the list model lacks is the “in progress” state. Plus occasionally my lists get confused. See today’s notebook page:
- Fix bugs in Test Director
- Merge fixes up
- Do build
- Read terms of contract
- E-mail solicitor
- Go to Robert Dyas
Order DAB Radio
- Finish business analysis docs
- Carry on with QCon note consolidation
How do I know which ones I’ve started? I could do with a couple of boards at least as well to separate the personal from the business.
Also note that I took something away from my Time Management course, attended when I was a mere graduate at a large manufacturing organisation: make a new list for each day, discarding your completed items and moving forward the incomplete ones (it also mentions to discard “low priority” items that haven’t been done over a week or two under the theory that you’ll never do it if you haven’t by then). This is great for keeping a nice clean list of achievable goals for the day, but a bit rubbish at giving any positive feedback - no matter how much you get done, every day there’s yet more to do, and lack of visibility on what you have actually achieved. The example story wall in the link above is great for a sense of achievement - yes there’s still things to be done but look how much has been achieved in comparison!
However, I am going to make the common criticism of cards: one of their major advantages, their “physicality”1, is also the disadvantage - whilst I can take my little notebook round with me, I can’t lug a story wall between work and home. And although some of those things are personal tasks, they need to be done at work (e.g. e-mailing because I haven’t got my broadband at home yet) or between work and home.
Mind you, I actually have 3 pieces of paper containing lists of things to do / buy / check / clean with regards to my new flat, because of my inability to actually carry the notebook with me. Or the same one at least.
I think this means two more items to be added to the “To Buy” list: a magnetic whiteboard and some story cards. I like whiteboards because you can even scribble stuff behind / around the cards.
EDIT: Bah, someone else already beat me to it.
1 This is an extract from James Shore’s section on Stories:
Write stories on index cards.
This isn’t the result of some strange Ludditian urge on the part of XP’s creators—it’s a deliberate choice based on the strengths of the medium. You see, physical cards have one feature that no conglomeration of pixels has: you can pick them up and move them around. They’re tactile. This gives them power.