Getting Things Done In a Busy Development with a Piece of Paper

July 3, 2013 10:27 pm 5 Comments

Losing Your Goal is a Productivity Disaster…

Have you ever lost track of what you should be doing during a busy software development schedule? You are busy developing new features in your application or busy fixing some bugs then when interruption occurs, you tend to it. However as you came back to your original task, you completely forgotten what you were doing and started doing other things (such as another issue or feature). If these kind of things ever happen to you then you are probably not alone. There are many instances in larger projects where this happens. The interruptions of course can be as simple as going out for a coffee, having ad-hoc discussions, encountering critical production issues, etc. The point is, when these things happens, you lost focus and you need to regain that somehow.

The problem with losing track like this is that we ended up wasting a lot of time and we ended up making more mistakes. On every single application of our lives, if we are focussing on doing one thing, we will do that one thing right. As you know, previously we talked about using centralized project management tools such as LibrePlan in which we can track our goals, however this might not be very effective for day to day personal goals.

Project management tools are great for task based tracking, provided you personally can stay focus a whole day through. Of course you can perhaps look at your dashboard every now and then but your screen might already be cluttered, leaving you no desire to open another window.

A Little Piece of Paper Goes a Long Way!

Written goalSo what’s the solution? I found that the solution is quite low-tech. Writing down your goals for the day, is one of the most effective thing to stay in focus and remind yourselves of what you need to do today. I’m talking about physically writing the goals on a piece of paper, not typed on screen, not typed in a tablet app. Although I’m not qualified to assure this (as I’m not a brain expert) I have read a lot of articles saying that writing actually invokes the Reticular Activating System, which drives your brain to increased awareness over the goals. Plus this is what a lot of successful people do too, although of course they apply this to long term goals such as wealth creation goals.

Therefore what I do when things gets overly busy, is to write down what I want to accomplish today on multiple post it notes but only show one after another. For example: if I want to add a calendar interface to the module of the application that I’m currently developing, I will write that on a post-it-note. If I want to fix a bug in an event creation, as another example, I will write that goal on a post-it-note. This way, if I needed to get a coffee or go to an abruptly ad-hoc meeting, I will remember straight away about what I want to accomplish today.

This short post is of course quite different from what I normally post in this website, however this technique, simple as it may be; has helped me increase my day-to-day focus and productivity. By having a written goal on paper staring right in front you, the chances of forgetting what you wanted to do will be lower.  In addition, being able to strike through the written goals when they are complete is a little rewarding experience :)

A simple written goal every day will take you far.

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