Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time Planning - Simple is Good!

I have been through the gamut of day planners and professional time planners.  Like many software implementations - they tend to be overly complex.  In fact, too complex to try to use it when you're busy and too inflexible to adapt to your environment.

(I learned a bit from David, Matt, and Ben at OpenNMS as they  are masters at refactoring and simplifying software.)

There are certain inevitabilities that arise in every Techies world:

  • Always way more work than can be humanly doable given the current resources.
  • No additional resources are coming to your rescue.
  • Always interruptions and priority situations.
  • Everything is an emergency.
  • You tend to deal with micro-management on occasion
  • Priorities change ad nauseum.

The goals - To track what you need to do as it gets done. Adapt to any new tasks and priorities.  Produce concise status reports on a moments notice without missing anything.

What I wanted was something simple and doable, and lets me focus on work versus the planner.  Here's what I came up with:

On your first day of the work week, take some time to make up a list of things that need to be done. This list doesn't have to be only for tasks this week either. You can document anything here that you consider a task.

From the list, put a task / objective/goal on a sticky note. Make them one task per note.

Prioritize the list. Stack them in the order you think is appropriate.

Now, stick the list to your bulletin board in your cube.  This is the TO DO stack.

Begin working each task. For each thing you are currently working on, pull if off of the TO DO stack and put it in a "WORKING" stack. As you complete tasks, put them in a DONE Stack.

Lets say Wednesday rolls around and you get a call to diagnose a problem or do some investigation work for a post mortem. Do a quick note on the task and ticket # and put it in your WORKING stack. As you finish, put in your DONE stack.

On Friday afternoon, when its all said and done, list your DONE tasks in you weekly status.  Make sure you list the things you're still working on from the WORKING stack and things to be done from the TO DO stack!

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