Todd’s Practical GTD Agile Method

I love GTD, but it definitely has some issues that I don’t like. Here are some good links to learn GTD. I also recommend reading his book, or not. It’s long and boring actually. What I ended up doing is merging a few things between GTD and Agile. I’m definitely not any sort of Scrum Master or Agile guru by any means, but I do find some things useful about it when it comes to project management.

I use Toodledo.com to implement my GTD / Agile Methodology, but my method is a little different and I will explain why. Come back here after you’ve read at least the first link above.

I organize Toodledo.com by doing the following:

I use the tag system heavily. The folder system is too limited. If I want to categorize one item into two boxes I should be able to do so. They work exactly like the folders but it’s substantially more flexible. The folders just aren’t necessary.

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C++ Best Practices

I love best practices. It’s like a jump start or a synopsis of all the things you should do without reading through all the heavy books.

In and out params

For functions, it’s handy to be able to identify what’s an “in” parameter, versus what’s an “out” parameter. I just got done reading an article about the Doom3 engine source code and there was something that I liked.

  1. From this signature you can identify what is an “in” and what is an “out”.
  2. The return type is obviously an “out”.
  3. The “const int val” identifies this as an “in”, even though it’s just an int.
  4. const Data& d1 is an “in”.
  5. For d2, it’s an out, and this is obvious because it takes a double pointer.
  6. For d3, this is also obviously an out. You want the function to fill something out.
  7. All out parameters use pointers, all in parameters use const or const refs.
  8. Never use a parameter as both an “in” and an “out”.

For #6, when you call this function look at what it looks like.

You can tell by looking at how it’s called what is an input and what is an output. If it has an &, you know it’s an out. Except for the return value obviously. You also have a guarantee that counter or data won’t be modified, and it won’t be modified inside the function. The function could copy the value and change it there as a separate variable on the stack, but that requires extra work. This is all about simple guarantees. I really like this approach, and I think I will adopt it for my standards.

Tools I use

Some of the tools I use to manage my tasks (life) are the following:

Toodledo

The toodledo.com website is a task management system based around the GTD technique. It’s great because you don’t have to use a particular technique if you don’t want to. For example, I use the “tags” feature to assign tags to all of my tasks for organization. It also have a handy feature where you can create tasks by sending an email to a special email address. This is handy when used in combination with a “send email widget” you can install on your phone to quickly send an email. Whenever I send an email, it’s automatically “starred” so during my weekly review, I know what to turn into actionable tasks. You can assign due dates, priorities, contexts, etc. The only thing I feel it doesn’t or can’t capture very well are files and research. You can upload files, but it requires a more expensive plan to store data. I just use evernote for this, but evernote also has limits. It has a calendar, which I use heavily and I can sort things any way I want. I currently use onenote and also Instapaper. I looked around at a lot of different task management systems (including stuff like Jira), but I have found nothing better. It can create goals, store outlines and notes among other things as well, but I find the notes are better captured in the tasks themselves or with Evernote.

Pomodoro

Using a pomodoro app is useful to doing 30 minute or 50 minute sprints. You can use an ordinary timer, but there are other apps you can use on your phone, which is easier to use if you’re at a coffee shop or something. These are very helpful so you can timebox your tasks so you don’t go overboard. It has many benefits, such as forcing you to get as much done as you can in 30 minutes, so you concentrate more. It prevents you from working too much on one task so you don’t waste time and you don’t get get burnt out on that one task.

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Vim – Jumping around the page

These are my favorite shortcuts for jumping around the page.

z+t = Scroll the current line to the top of the screen

z+b = Scroll the current line to the bottom of the screen

z+z = Scroll the current line to the center of the screen

H = Move the cursor to the top (high) of the screen.

L = Move the cursor to the bottom (low) of the screen.

M = Move the cursor to the center (middle) of the screen.

Task Management – 01

I’ve been learning a lot about how to manage my time (or tasks rather) more effectively. How do you get more done in a day without causing more stress and still have time for leisure. There are a few things that I personally do and I’ll just be keeping a log here on this site of some of the helpful tips and things I’ve been doing.

  1. Timebox your tasks. Use the pomodoro technique.
    1. Do 50/10 for things like projects, if you can. But sometimes this can be difficult.
    2. Do 25/5 for smaller things like homework or habits that don’t end.
    3. Alternate between difficult and easy pomodoros. For example in order “write book”, “clean out email inbox”, “do homework”, “lift weights”. Hard easy hard easy.
    4. There are many pomodoro timers for your phone. Get one.
  2. Do the most important things in the morning. After you get home from work, you won’t want to do them because you’ll be worn out.
  3. Change your environment. Coffee shop, library, or some other place to keep you away from distractions.
  4. Listen to ambient sound or noise. I listen to thunderstorms or rain + trains. It drowns out the chatter and noise from Starbucks and lets me focus a lot easier.
  5. Mix in easy very short healthy habits between pomodoros such as “drink full glass of water”. Or you can set them up to start the pomodoro instead of using your break time.
  6. Use the S.M.A.R.T. system for goals. More on this in a later post.

Next time, I’ll discuss GTD and the tools I use.