Jun 8, 2019

How I organize project notes

Either I’ve been distracted by a particularly resonant book or article, or I’ve had too much coffee, but either way I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on the task at hand. My strategy is to use a template which I keep in my project folders in order to pick up where I left off. I find it helps me be productive when my mind is elsewhere. It could be compared to Getting Things Done or Org mode, but I won’t compare it to them myself since I am not familiar with them beyond their names and purpose. My template looks like this:

TODO
---------


QUESTIONS
---------


ON HOLD
---------


RETRO THOUGHTS
--------


STANDUP
--------


MISC
---------


I open this up at the beginning of each day to see what I have lined up in my TODO. If something is blocked because I have a question about it, I make a note of it, and if something is blocked and I know the reason, it goes under the ON HOLD label, naturally. I also include headers for items to mention in standup and retrospectives. If something particularly good or bad happens during a sprint (typically 2 weeks in duration), I make a note of it immediately so I don’t lose the context. This also helps standup be concise and clear, without rambling on too much about what I am working on. I typically just list bullet points and if anyone has questions or is blocked by my work, it’s up to them to bring it up.

Most importantly, I clean up my TODO section at the end of the workday and put any relevant items on there, so I know exactly what I will be working on the following morning.

So far this system has been working well for me, but it only works if I remember to keep up with it. Because I have a hard time forming good habits, it’s possible that in a few months I will have exhausted my experiment with this format, moving on to something else entirely.