Re: To Do Archives

Subject: Re: To Do Archives
From: David Jones/KSBEISD <David_Jones/KSBEISD -dot- KSBEISD -at- DATAHUB -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 1996 12:17:34 HST

Note: the following is probably tedious and long, even boring, about how/why I
maintain my To Do list the way I do. Blame Richard for triggering the thoughts!

If your mail prg/newsreader has a "go to end of note/article" function, I have
a question at the end about encouraging/facilitating electronic review of
documentation ...


Richard, one of my favorite Techwhirlers!, quoted me as saying:
>>>I do my "To Do" list (up to 22 pages
>>>this last week) using this option.
He also quoted Kat, who had said:
>Wow! And I was depressed because -my- list has reached -14- pages (5.5
>x 8.5 ", in case anyone cares <bg>).
Then Richard replied:
>Those aren't ToDo lists. They're attics.<
My last experience with an attic was that finding things in it was very
difficult. Between the Search and the Go To bookmark functions, finding things
on my To Do list is very easy! <G>

>A useful ToDo list is an elastic buffer. It expands a little from time to
time, but only temporarily. Over the long term its average size is a small
constant, and it is frequently empty.<
Umm, I find that there is always something to do, so the list is *never* empty!
What's your secret? Within the list, everything is prioritized, although not
with the same mechanics Richard mentioned.

If I finish the current and upcoming tech writing projects, I have
lower-priority projects, such as researching ways of managing the documentation
development process more effectively. If I finish that, I have personal
projects -- graphic design, typeface design, learning HTML, learning new
applications, fixing stuff around the house, etc. Beneath that is a pool of
thoughts, ideas, notes, etc., toward potential projects. I've found that if I
don't include that, the To Do list becomes the playground of projects others
require of me, rather than my tool.

*Useful* is a relative term. I find it useful to always be aware of the "where,
how, and why" that connects the short term activity with the long term. A ToDo
list that focuses only on the short term seems to me to be a very short-sighted

My list also includes notes on the most recent activity connected with each
item. It seems to be the only way I can keep straight what is going on with
each of my projects. The electronic file also includes the full history of each
project, but that part is not printed as part of the To Do booklet. At the end
of each year, I clean out completed projects.

Oh, and as I privately emailed someone else, it includes three pages of
information sources (URLs) connected with to do items.

In a sense, my To Do list is as much a diary/journal/reference book as it is a
To Do list. Kat, you have my permission to feel depressed about your 14 pg
list, if it's *only* a list of things to do! <VBG>

>I wonder what your desks look like. ...RM<
Well, very neat in both cases (home and office). Most of my desk exists on the

The physical and/or virtual desks get cluttered only when a crop of reviewed
hard copies arrives. Then I spread 'em out and go through page by page, with
any copies reviewed electronically open in the wordprocesser. Would love to cut
down the number of hard copies, but only 25% my reviewers are willing to review
docs electronically. The rest want hard copy because they usually end up
reviewing while away from a computer!

It all looks better than the writing style in this note! Forgive the

To get this back to a tech writing topic, any ideas on encouraging/facilitating
electronic reviews? We have an under-utilized Lotus Notes installation
available to a fraction of the reviewers. A larger fraction of reviewers have
our standard wordprocesser package. Everyone has access to text-only email via
our AS/400s.

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