J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Quick and Dirty Getting Things Done

Quick and Dirty Getting Things Done

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If you're backlogged and you want to get out, here's a quick, low tech, brute force approach.  On your whiteboard, first write your key backlog items.  Next to it, write down To Do.  Under To Do, write the three most valuable things you'll complete today.  Not tomorrow or in the future, but what you'll actually get done today.  Don't bite off more than you can chew.  Bite off enough to feel good about what you accomplished when the day is done.

If you don't have a whiteboard, substitute a sheet of paper.  The point is keep it visible and simple. Each day for this week, grab a new set of three.  When you nail the three, grab more.  Again, only bite off as much as you can chew for the day.  At the end of the week, you'll feel good about what you got done.

This is a technique I've seen work for many colleagues and it's stood the test of time.  There's a few reasons behind why this tends to work:

  • Whiteboards make it easy to step back, yet keep focus.
  • You only bite off a chunk at a time, so you don't feel swamped.
  • As you get things done, you build momentum.
  • You have constant visual feedback of your progress.
  • Unimportant things slough off.

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  • Makes a lot of sense.

    Here is what I do - i do not have whiteboard since i am with customers or on the road. I use my calendar as "whiteboard" - i stick my daily tasks into calendar - it is visual and keeps me being realistic with regards to time. Since my nose is always stuck into the laptop and the OL is always open i am on track with both tasks and time which i manage in the calendar

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