Yesterday Kelsey made a list of “101 things to do in 1001 days.” Apparently this is a phenomenon (fad) that is sweeping the blogosphere of ordinary folks (non-nerds, tech or political.)
I’m pretty excited about some things on her list, especially #9 and #18 because they involve me (I hope.)
In the process of coming up with things to do she looked up several other lists, and I was struck by how simply it can be done. While I’ve always known that a spreadsheet was enough, I never liked it (probably because I don’t like spreadsheets), seeing that a single blog post (which is really a text document) is being used to track such detailed and long-term projects is both frightening and relieving.
How much nicer would it be to have a page that linked from the list for each task, where progress could be updated. But it doesn’t need to be much more complex than that.
I’ve been evaluating alot of project management tools, currently favoring GoPlan, but they still don’t seem right. I actually miss the work breakdown spreadsheets we used at our last job. Other than the inherent problems of using Excel spreadsheets (not multiuser, brittle & limited formatting, ugly versioning, difficult to customize data without changing) the real problem is usually in coming up with accurate tasks, not in tracking them.
Every day I write a daily todo list on paper, that’s not much more complicated than a shopping list, and every day I end up writing more than I can possibly do and adding all sorts of notes (often irrelevant) that obscure the list. I try to keep 2 notepads (one for tasks and one for notes) and some scratch paper handy to combat this, but it invariably fails. My notes are either lost, or jumbled, important stuff written on the scratch paper never gets transferred, and 1/2 of the tasks from the previous day are written again for a few days before being dropped, incomplete as my work takes a different direction.
So simplicity needs to be the key. And persistence. Easy access to data is where online PM tools fall down, I think. Wikis are slightly too general, though I think a wiki based solution is a good idea.
Something that ties a wiki to a blog, but not a bliki.
I should have a WBS containing overarching goals for each project, tied to a project plan. And time allocation for projects. Each day I should identify which WBS tasks (and non WBS tasks) I need to perform. Then a summary at the end of the day of what I actually accomplishes (as well as updates to task lists. Tasks should have their own page with coments. Notes can exist in the ether as something to look up, but can also be linked to from tasks.
Dang it, I’m not supposed to be working on a new PM tool. It seems so easy, though.