As I was finishing up my last few weeks at my previous job I ran across a blog post by Jeff Atwood over on Coding Horror.
The crux of his argument was to take all of your fancy systems that you use as a crutch and start the day off figuring out the three things you need to get done today, store that in your brain, and do them. Simple stuff.
When it comes my jobby-job, I feel I’m pretty disciplined at getting things done. Working in agile teams has definitely helped me craft a system where I sit down and figure out what needs to get done on a daily basis and with a team sit down and figure out our weekly goals. So in general, To-Do apps have never been a part of my workflow. It’s programming, you have features, bugs and products to ship. Get it done.
In my personal life on the other hand, is a mess. I’ve tried most of the popular to do apps available for iOS. GTD-style systems for ubiquitous capture start out great for me but I can never get into the habit of setting aside time to prune and digest the list on a regular basis. Generalized buckets of tasks never get crossed off and location specific reminders just depress me every time I cross that imaginary region marker.
So Jeff’s idea of a mental, three item to do list seems like it should work for me. Unfortunately, depending on which “mode” my brain is in (work or personal) this mental model will completely fall apart. I personally know that I sometimes have the memory retention of a sugar addled child with ADHD at a shiny object convention. I tend to rely on notebooks or index cards to keep myself organized.
Another issue of mine is the fact that I can be great at getting stuff done for a few days and then will fall back into bad habits, build up a large backlog, feel trapped and just mentally check out of ever getting the car’s oil changed. As a real adult with car payments, keys, a family and stuff I should be able to do better.
So I have a system that works at my job, a system that falls apart a lot in life, a lot of opinions, a technical background and a friend who builds web backends.
Guess this is perfect timing to design and build my version of a to-do app.
The elevator pitch:
You open the app in the morning. It asks you for your to do items (less than 5?) and you go about your day. Once a day a notification pops up to remind you of your items (customizable) and at the end of the day if all items are done you get a gold star marker for the day on a calendar. Don’t break the chain! Everything is synched to a backend.
I haven’t had much time to work on Hot&Cold recently so I’ve been working with Tim on a plan for this app. We’ll see where it goes.