Finish a Project «
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The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.

This annoyingly true aphorism has an important implication: an unfinished project, however close it seems to completion, is worth far less than a completed project. With that in mind, I’ve created a useful tool.

It is a text file named todo, and it appears as follows:

small todo:
  research thesauruses
  find a better launcher than fbrun
  finish jQuery Cookbook
  ~/.profile: print a random alias on login

sometime todo:
  http://masanjin.net/sup-bugs/issue7
  get bike ready for spring
  tag and caption photos

business ideas:
  blog edit sharing - ask friends to preview a blog post
  online origami database
  ...

project ideas:
  roguelike: vampire in a town, hide and drain mob abilities
  patch MySQL to not allow blank WHERE in update/delete
  ...

purchases:
  bookends
  hat
  standing desk?
  measuring tape
  micrometer
  uninterruptable power supply

tv:
  House s5
  Mad Men s1
  Heroes s1
  Lost s1 (if it ends well)
  ...

games:
  World of Goo
  Dungeoneer (card game)
  ...

music:
  Bat For Lashes
  OK Go
  ...

[For boring historical reasons, the book/movie queue are elsewhere.]

Every time I have a brilliant idea to fix something or research a product to buy or take someone up on a media recommendation, I put it on the list. And every time I have a brilliant idea for a new project, it emphatically goes on the list so I don’t start working on it. (This is the hard part.)

When I’m going to relax, I’ll pick something off the list of media to check out. And when I happen to have the file open, I’ll occasionally move more-interesting items upwards and prune off anything uninteresting.

It’s neat to have the last couple years of game, business, and hobby project ideas collected in one place; the most interesting of them have a text file or a directory for notes and plans. I find that if I let myself spend a few minutes or hours pondering a project and then write it down, I can stop obsessing about it, perhaps because I don’t need to think of it to keep from forgetting it.

Success? Yeah, it helps. It’s unfortunately not a free Finish Everything You Start Ticket, but I’m coming to terms with their lack of existence. I’ve finished more in the five years I’ve been keeping the file than the five before and I’m tempted to attribute it to growing wiser and more experienced, except that keeping this file is one of the mechanisms that help me get wiser and more experienced.


Comments

  1. Yeah, I’ve toyed with creating a list like this before. The only problem is that I have so much to do at all times that the list would only serve as a reminder of the things I would LIKE to do but simply can’t due to the need to earn a living. lol

    So my todo list is one item long:
    Create todo list

    ;)

  2. Yes. Looking at this list (even without considering the rate I add to it), I have more than enough interesting ideas to keep me busy for the rest of my life. That realization was a lot of food for thought.

  3. Yeah, that reminds me of Steve Yegee’s post where he talks about a compiler being a lifetime’s worth of work. I have a similar file or set of files loosely based on the GTD stuff, and it helps to keep track of the “good ideas” that might be cool to do someday. If I’m ever bored, looking through these gives me some inspiration. Thanks for the post!

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