Daily Todo List

Published on October 28, 2022

There seems to be a resurgence over the past few months about notes. When to take notes, how to take notes and most importantly the software used. Hacker News recently had a thread about daily journalling and this is my too big to dump in a comment response.

# 2022-10-31

## Monday
- [x] Review Team's Code
- [x] Bug: [Issue#1234][issue-link]
    - [x] Try to reproduce
    - [x] Related to yesterday's fix?
    - [x] Make PR from changes on `tmp/fix` branch
    - [x] Waiting on review, [pr][pr-link]
- [x] Meeting: Discuss Design System
    - [x] Cancelled

## Tuesday
- [x] Review Team's Code
- [ ] Check Staging
    - [ ] Are things working correctly for [Issue#1233][link]?
- [ ] Meeting: Daily
    - [ ] Make team aware of upcoming PTO
- [ ] Meeting: Demo recent changes
    - [ ] Prepare Demo
- [ ] [Issue#1234][issue-link]
    - [x] Waiting on review, [pr][pr-link]
    - [ ] Respond review comments

## Next Week
- Reschedule design system meeting

This is only read by me, I don’t share it, and I’ve built up the particular format over a few years. It’s informed largely by previous attempts at this type of thing that didn’t work, along with a recognition that I can’t be productive without a good todo list.

It’s all in markdown and I edit with Obsidian since I love it’s markdown editing. Part of why everything is a checklist is because Obsidian handles them really well.

Some features:

  • One doc per week, and the days fall under that.
  • Every todo item is a within a nested bulleted checkbox.
  • Even if it’s not a todo, anything under a given day is a bulleted checkbox.
  • Bullets should be terse. Reminders, not the full story.
  • Underneath broad tasks, such as a specific ticket, have a next step for that task. Don’t put everything you do there, but always have a jumping off point for anything unfinished.
  • Generally, if it’s a bug, you’re first jumping off point is to reproduce and if it’s a feature to understand the requirements.
  • Be generous with links, unless you’re linking the same thing multiple times.
  • If it comes up and can’t be done this week put it at the bottom of the doc.
  • Look at the bottom of last week’s doc at the start of the week.
  • A week is self-contained. Don’t back-edit previous weeks.
  • At the end of each day make sure each item is checked (but don’t check items that aren’t accounted for). If necessary, copy the relevant stuff to a future day or the next week section.
  • Don’t fill in beyond today and tomorrow, unless you’ll forget that point otherwise.
  • Write down meetings so you know to prepare for the meeting, not to remind you that you have the meeting. Do not use your todo list as a calendar replacement.
  • If you need to jot something down that doesn’t otherwise fit, create a new double heading for it. But, consider first if the weekly doc is the right place for it. An example of this is meeting notes if you don’t want to share those notes, but ideally you should use shared meeting notes.

The always use bulleted checkboxes has to do with Obsidian. Obsidian handles them really well – even when editing you can click on bullets, but doesn’t handle mixing checkbox and non-checkbox bullets, so I just keep that consistent.

I used to use paper notes, but linking and copying are too big a benefit to pass up. In theory archival also suffer but it’s rare I’m referencing more than a few weeks back.

I used to have a much larger format where the bullets would roughly outline my week, and including writing in more accurate times that reflect meetings I expect to go overtime. This was also a failure and unnecessary, too much work and using a checklist as a calendar is a fool’s errand.

I’ve also tried daily notes with far more detail. I’ve found this just duplicates work, since the details are generally documented elsewhere. I also don’t worry about detailed notes during meetings, since if that needs to exist it will be created as a shared document, and I can copy over the relevant todos after.

I’ve also found templates to be a waste of time. If you need a template you have too much boilerplate.

And, lastly, I don’t do “whiteboarding” within these notes. If I need to sketch something out I’ll use paper. If I need to save those notes I take a picture.