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One thing, as a developer, that I have always felt odd about is the amount of paper that I use on a consistent basis. When I think of someone who dabbles in the latest technology, I usually don’t expect them to track everything they are doing on paper. I have spent some time thinking about it and come to the conclusion that it is a big part of the reason that I can stay on top of many different tasks at any given time. I use paper as a tool to stay organized and to make sure that nothing gets missed in my day-to-day operations.

I have tried a number of different software applications to manage to-do lists and project bug lists, but in my experience nothing beats a pen and paper. When I first sit at my desk in the morning, I like to take out a notebook and turn to a fresh page. I start out by writing a couple categories, the main ones being “personal” and “work”. Under each category, I write the general things that I need to cover throughout the day, ie “work-video player”, “personal-setup new address with bank”, etc. The lists will include everything from updating some copy on an application to contacting different clients.

Once I feel that I have a full list of things I would like to get done that day, I start adding new sections where I add detailed items for each category that I use as a checklist throughout the day. This is what gets used as a list of features / goals that I set for myself that I would like to get done by the end of the day. Often there are too many items on the list to complete that day, but that is fine because the list is just a guideline and status of all the things that I am working on. If I don’t get through the entire list, I use it as a guide for the next day’s list.

Throughout the day, if I find myself losing focus on one project, I can take a look at the list and find something that can be accomplished quickly and easily, and get it done. This lets me knock more items off the list while allowing me to take breaks from the larger projects. I have been using a similar system to this for at least 10 years now. I don’t always do it daily but even a couple days a week of these lists is enough to keep me organized and on track.

Now for the reason that I am writing this. I think that it would be good practice for people of any discipline to take a step back from the computer and try out a similar system to this. Have a pen and paper next to your desk at any given time and make time in the morning to gather your thoughts, write out your lists, and get organized for the day.

share save 171 16 The Importance of Writing it Down
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