Backlog for My Brain

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I recently started keeping a small notebook (graph-paper) to the left of my keyboard when I write code. It’s a short list of what I want to accomplish during a session, maybe for the next half-hour or pomadoro or whatever. I lovingly call it my analog burn-down chart.

It works great. I use it to:

  1. Record sins I commit in the name of un-breaking tests
  2. Jot down micro-goals; things I want to accomplish before I step away from the computer. This really helps focus me. It’s especially handy for tasks I don’t like doing or that I suck at. Javascript fits both criteria nicely.
  3. Force myself to do things I find distasteful, like verifying javascript in IE 6.

Here’s what I had down on a recent page:


But That’s Just a To-Do List!

Yes. My analog burndown could be called a to-do list, but for me it’s a “to do right NOW” list. It keeps me focused on the task, and I know when I’m done because the list is all crossed off. I rarely go back and look at previous pages. They’re either cleared entirely, or repeated on the next list. Sort of a mini backlog for my brain.

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