Evidence Based Scheduling

I thought Joel Spolsky had jumped the shark when he revealed that he was using a language that his company had developed: “Wasabi, a very advanced, functional-programming dialect of Basic.” Ok… Guess who I don’t consider an authority on anything but Excel and MS DOS any more? (I am not alone in this thought.) Still, he is a great thinker and, I imagine, a great manager. He still has good ideas. And this article on Evidence Based Scheduling is very, very attractive. If I started doing more detailed planning up front for any task I was going to do and gave those tasks estimates, I could easily fit that with the time tracking that I already do and come up with decent estimates for my time. Right now, I when I look at a days worth of tasks in Planner, it looks something like this:

@9:00 Finish up Database creation for iHRIS @10:30 Read up on how to use i2ce @13:00 Create simple address book in I2CE @19:00 Paint Kitchen @20:00 Refactoring Code @21:00 Notify Users of Move

If I add an estimate for each task, then I’ll be able to use Joel’s Evidence Based Scheduling pretty quickly. Of course, it is designed for teams of people, but, I have a feeling it would be useful for just one person, too.

Thank you Sacha Chua!

This past year or so, I’ve been working at home with my four children (three school-age, and home-schooled). Besides the kids, who really aren’t that bad, I have the struggled to avoid the distraction that is the Internet. I instinctively compare myself with my heros, and, of course, my heros always win the comparison. Sacha Chua is one such hero of mine. While seeking out ways to be more productive, the gregarious filipino has evangelized PlannerMode like no one else could have. I’ve always admired her energy, drive and focus. She seems to accomplish so much, so easily. I have potential, but I’m have an extreme lack of focus. Finally, this week, while being distracted, I came across this on Digg: “Plan your day the night before” Doh! It finally clicked. I saw how everything I knew about planning would actually work. I had found the missing ingredient. I did it that night. I planned my next day’s tasks. Until then, I’d been using Planner primarily to keep track of the billable hours I worked. This week I finally understood how to really use all the scheduling and planning aspects of Planner. I had tried it before, but it didn’t work — because I didn’t do it the night before. Maybe someone said it and I missed it. Maybe I wasn’t properly motivated before. Doing it the night before means I’m anxious to get to the things I’ve scheduled. I’m motivated to do them because my subconcious has been dwelling on them for eight or so hours. Sacha Chua has been writing about using PlannerMode and Emacs for productivity for some time now. Shes written a lot of code snippets and done some heavy lifting with PlannerMode itself. Finally, she is combining her enthusiasm, her skill at writing, and technical saavy to write a “Wicked Cool Emacs book” that will cover PlannerMode, OrgMode as well as many other bits of Emacs. I wish I could pre-order a copy now!