J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Structuring Your Personal Backlog to Make Things Happen

Structuring Your Personal Backlog to Make Things Happen

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Structuring your personal backlog of work you have to do, helps you in multiple ways:

  • It helps you see your work at a glance
  • It helps you batch and consolidate work to gain efficiencies
  • It helps you see deal with incoming flow, work in flight, and work to be done

The process for a simple backlog is pretty simple.  Here are the keys:

  1. Make a list for each separate project or big activity you have on your plate.
  2. For each project or big activity, make a list of the big tasks or chunks of work.
  3. Split the tasks into Priority 1 and Priority 2 (P1 and P2.)

The mental model for how you are structuring your backlog for each project is this:

  • To Do (in flight)
  • Backlog (P1, P2)
  • Done

Here is an example of a list for project X:

P1
-----------------
- Apples
- Oranges (Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana)
- Pears

P2
----------------
- Kiwi
- Lemons
- Mangos
- Pineapples
.. etc.

Done
---------------
- Blueberries
- Cranberries
- Grapes

By keeping your lists flat and functional, they are easy to update, easy to store, and easy to share.  Whether you use OneNote, Excel, Workflowy, or EverNote, you have a list for each project, and each list has a simple map of the work to be done, at your finger tips.