If To-do Lists Were Software Projects

The best time to discuss a list of to-do items is probably when there’s immediate time to do them. Seems obvious, but stick with me for a few hundred pages. I was considering on the way to the office today how software teams do “sprints” (bracketed efforts to achieve specific goals) and “scrums” (term borrowed […]

The best time to discuss a list of to-do items is probably when there’s immediate time to do them. Seems obvious, but stick with me for a few hundred pages.

I was considering on the way to the office today how software teams do “sprints” (bracketed efforts to achieve specific goals) and “scrums” (term borrowed from rugby: return to the game/effort after pausing). The sprint focuses on (50%) what is most important to achieve and what gets pushed out, then (50%) how to achieve these tasks.

I have a difficult time keeping up my my wife’s multitasking: I’m constantly worried that the details she’s thought of won’t stick in my memory. Mens’ brains are compartmentalized, and the wrong context for a discussion can delay comprehension as we context-switch to the right compartment. I’m much much worse than others in this “compartment-switch”, which makes gaps and delay stand out.

I’m all about deep-dives.

Also, this delay makes me feel dumb.

The same process as software can be related to the to-do list. Or the “honeydew” list (the Honey (to-) do list). Or the planning of home repairs. Or the prioritizing of any list of tasks.

Before embarking on a to-do list, at the start of a week, discuss which to-do items are most important. re-align to make sure you’ve caught up with the others in your group or family or knitting circle. maybe launch into a session of “ok, this is how I think I can do that” to see if it conflicts. Really difficult to rearrange a room if that room will be used for studying.

If this is done before a major to-do item, it can help remind and re-align the details and constraints if it’s been a while since that item was considered, and if the details have changed a dozen or so times.

Because this can be done just before, it’s not necessary to discuss very many times in detail before that timeframe — maybe broader strokes — allowing better use of time. Focusing on the more immediate tasks can avoid “feature creep” wherein more and more things are last-minute added to the current list of tasks.