A Simple Beginning
My basic life story is like it says in the precis. A ToDo list gets more and more daunting as things get added to it, and more and more dirty as ages go by and we still haven’t put in a new kitchen. Things on the list are too big to finish, so I don’t get the thrill of victory very often.
So there I was, wallowing in depression because I wasn’t getting anything done, when I decided to listen to my own advice. I’m always telling people that cards are good for everything, and I have those cool, not all that expensive Official Ron Jeffries XProgramming Gridded Three by Five Cards (collect them) with me all the time. So I decided to try an experiment.
I started with a number of big story cards:
- House. This includes cleaning the basement, putting in the new kitchen, improving the master bath, getting more storage for books and impedimenta, general cleaning, doing something with the broken grill, ...
- Programming. I want to code up a wiki and a blog, just to learn some more .NET stuff. Maybe I should work with some .NET database. I'd like to use Fit a bit, and maybe FitNesse, to understand them better, maybe write some articles. It might be time to learn another language.
- Family. There's always family stuff to think about, wife, kids, grandkids, great-great grandkids. My son wants a brewery of his very own (not an efficiency issue, a business). Brothers, etc.
- Writing. Things to do on Adventures. Two or three other book ideas. Website needs articles and book reviews. I should start blogging.
- Consulting. It's what I allegedly do. Should start drumming up business more actively perhaps. (Contact me.)
- Admin. Pay a few bills. Transfer money from low-interest accounts.
- Health & Self-Improvement. Schedule annual physical. Exercise. You know the drill.
The big stories covered everything I could think of. Then I wrote some small stories. Here are a few:
- Rooms for forUse. I need to reserve a room for the forUse conference.
- Store Shopping List. Need some stuff.
- Contact Mary about Kitchen. Get with the design lady, see where we are. She probably thinks we're dead.
- Contact Hal about Kitchen. I know this guy who might want to honcho getting the thing done. Talk to him.
- ASPX Experiments. Learn a little about ASPX. I listed four increasingly difficult experiments.
I used as many cards as I wanted. Most of the cards have just one thing on them, like “Make Appt for Physical”. Some are still “big” or “medium” stories, with smaller items on them.
I have already done two of the cards. Just making the stories small enough got me out of the gumption trap far enough to get something done. This is working already!
My basic plan is that I’ll keep these “ToDo Story Cards” on the corner of my desk, and in the morning, and in those other rare moments when I think I might like to do something, I’ll go through them and plan a little iteration. I might just take one, I might take a few and put them right beside my keyboard. My theory is that when something looks important but too big to do, I’ll write smaller stories for it, in hopes of getting down to something small enough to seem doable.
I’m not sure what I’ll do when the stories are done. I might tear the card up, because that feels good. Or I might keep them, as trophies of things I’ve actually accomplished.
Who knows? It could work. I’ll report progress – if I don’t put it off forever. (And yes, I did put “Update xUnit Page” in the stack. Now it has a chance!