Planned Thinking



In 2012 our efforts to add automated integrated testing to our central Point-of-Sale product were showing great results. We were finding 20-40% of all defects found in the software, many of which were found within hours of those defects being introduced by the developer. It took years of hard work to get to this place, and I was feeling good about our accomplishments.

But there was a problem.

I was running everything on adrenaline.

I was working extra hours, reacting to everything, and doing the next best thing to be done. But I was neglecting other really big things. It was review time and my boss wanted me to take my capabilities to another level. His advice was among the more valuable I’ve had in a review:

“You need to stop at least once a week and think about things. You just need to stop and think”

Years ago I read the book Getting Things Done (GTD for short), which revolutionized how I did things. My problem was that I hadn’t developed a system for GTD principles. In the last year and a half I’ve focused on growing this area. I’m so excited to share with you my system, because I think it’s a great one that illustrates the concepts in GTD that I have only recently taken to the next level. If you read the book you get a good overview of the system. I don’t believe you really understand it until you see a system in practice.

The center of my GTD system is Checkvist. I met the creator a Checkvist a little over two years ago at Jetbrains when I was discussing TeamCity with them. Kirill was taking notes in Checkvist and copied me on it. I didn’t take the tool seriously until after the review at the start of 2013. This tool is the single biggest reason for my success in the last 18 months. I can’t imagine life without Checkvist. In fact, this blog is managed through Checkvist and helped me create a workable plan that I could execute on.

There are five phases of Getting Things Done that I will cover in detail in four posts:

  • Collect: how do you take the things in your life and put them in places that you know you’ll get to when you have time?
  • Process/Organize: Now that you have time, how do you take the things you have collected and put them in a system that you trust you will come back to later?
  • Review: what is your system for coming back to the things you’ve put in your system?
  • Do: when you’re going to do something, what is your system for knowing what is best?

If you haven’t yet checked out Checkvist. I encourage you to do so and follow along in the next couple of weeks to get yourself organized. I’m here to help!

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