Comments on: Lists and Intentions
REBOL Technologies

Comments on: Lists and Intentions

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
18-Mar-2008 18:23 GMT

Article #0354
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I am a list maker. I make a lot of lists -- several times a week.

Most of the time, my new list comes from my old list. Other times, it's a brand new list created from scratch. (Both of these techniques have advantages. Maybe I'll talk about that later.)

To you, perhaps it seems silly to make lists. You keep in your head what you want to do, and you go do it. Perhaps when I was younger, I worked more like that. Perhaps my brain cells were fresher back then.

But these days, simply writing something down helps it to move forward. It's the small first step into the domain of "doing" or "happening"... down that path to what we call "done". (I love check marks. Yes I do.)

And, I've found that talking about doing something is no substitute for making lists. In fact, my observation has been that when one talks about doing something, it is less likely to happen. But, perhaps that is just an illusion or impression. I cannot conclude.

Last month, I had the honor of dining with a woman of historical fame. She told many interesting stories, but she used a term with which I was unfamiliar. She said, "to speak into existence." As alway the student, I interrupted her and asked what she meant.

Her reply goes beyond the scope of this blog, but I can summarize some of the concept: by writing it down you help bring an idea or concept into reality. For me, lists clarify intentions and direct my actions.

No, this is not a new idea at all. It's like drawing a plan before building a house or marking a map before taking a trip. You've got to know what you want to build -- where you want to go.

So, why am I telling you this?

Well, frankly, these days my lists have become quite long.

And that brings me to the next step in my list-making process: I sit back, read the list several times, and think about what's most important. I ask myself:

  1. What is important to the future success of the things I create?
  2. What is important to those who use the things I create?

I sort the list by priority. At the top is what I need to do right now. At bottom, well... let's just say they are not very likely to happen.

In fact, some of you questioned our recent focus on 2.7.6. What you saw was the result of the above method. The release of 2.7.6 was in response to that second line. Also, as with all projects, there's still a few wrap up tasks to do on 2.7.6. They are on a list.

Yes, my lists have become quite long and I've just added to my primary list: figure out how to solve this problem with long lists.

I think I know the answer, but it is the subject for a future blog. By adding it to the list, I hope it moves just a step closer toward happening. One small step.



18-Mar-2008 12:41:15
GTD :-)

I've been long a fan of Merlin Mann's principle on Getting Things Done. It involves two things: One is making short prioritized lists of immediate actions to do and the other is to get rid of your calendar as best as you can to work on the things you want to work on right now. It's just far more productive, particularly for us programmers who have to use our brains a lot, and the brain doesn't always agree to work when the calendar or the clock says you have to. It seems to have its own will. :-) Its power comes from its simplicity. It does not rely on fancy software, or changing your eating habits or requires that you become a Buddhist.

I make a lot of short lists and order them by priority. I don't use due dates or waste time syncing calendars. This seems to be too simple to some people, and it depends on your work environment (if you have a lot of meetings to schedule...), but it doesn't take more than these lists to be truly productive. Just reading the list is also an amazing way to quickly trigger your brain into the mode you worked in, when you made that list, rather than struggling to catch up on what you were doing and how far you had come. All the right synapses just fire much quicker. :-)

18-Mar-2008 14:02:17
When planning my stuff, I use plain paper and I mostly do some bullets - mixture of tasks, notes I want to keep in mind, etc. The same goes for presentations or docs I need to work on - outlines, the things I want to cover. I even started to use Outlook simple tasks under the calendar - without time schedule, just to pop-on me everytime I look into calendar - stuff I need to work on and want to be reminded on.

As for R3, I would shorten the list in the following way:

- outline further product strategy. Create precise (tree) list of categories and subcategories - all possible featuers or group of features you know you want R3 to have

- reread the list, and decide for milestone, priorities

- prioritise so that you can delegate the work. Of course the problem is, if we have enough of skilled developers to participate. But at least for Mezzanines, community already showed some potential in DevBase

- let others work on ports to other platforms, create some short documents to help others to do the job.

18-Mar-2008 22:45:16
I turned all my old lists into a 4-to-6 burner stove--each 'burner' is a project. I can only 'cook' so much ;-) But 'dinner' gets done faster in my 'kitchen' that way.

Some things are a 4-course meal, and require an 'oven'. Others, just a 'microwave' blip.

(P.S. You make too many lists, Carl.)


Ged Byrne
19-Mar-2008 3:37:52
It seems that REBOL accomplishes everything through the creation of Lists. You have created it in your own image.
20-Mar-2008 7:00:54
I'm glad RT released 2.7 recently, because, yes, some people are working with R2 right now. For lists, I agree, I'm doing the same. I sometimes have to go thru a tree structure! because something you want to solve can later split into a few smaller pieces.
28-Mar-2008 11:05:44
For Carl, about lists

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