Project Management

This post is mainly a series of observations, but observations often have the capability to be instructive.

To start out with, I should clarify that:

  1. Unfortunately, I am no expert. Most people reading this will not care about the former, since you’re only here to indulge your guilt pleasures (reading productivty advice on the internet).

  2. This is written for individuals, not groups. But these are “similar but different” problems. I’ve found that the bottleneck in multi-person coordination is usually communication and micro-management, the way you structure tasks isn’t that different.

  3. I have never worked on a multi-year project. But I doubt there’s a special way of planning your todos to deal with those. Longevity is mostly about the foundational choices and design principles, and being lucky/patient enough to not die.

  4. Planning is not doing the thing. That’s a whole different ballgame, not even the same court. Luckily, it’s one that is easier to figure out than planning. The feedback loops are simple: “is time turning into output?”, and it is amenable to brute force solutions like “work harder”.


I’m choosing to start with these, to provide context on the “why” of the sections that follow .


They do matter, actually. If an app makes it easy for you to create multiple sections for each project and add pretty tags, you’re going to have multiple pages and a pretty tagging system. If it gives you a smooth drag-and-drop interface, you’re going to spend time dragging and dropping.

Will power


The aesthetic of a your whole life laid out in front of you is…a big deal, apparently.

Snacking, preening, chasing ghosts.

Snacks give a sense of accomplishment that makes them psychologically rewarding but you’re unlikely to learn much from doing them, others are likely equally capable of completing them (and for some of them it might be a good development opportunity), and there’s a tremendous opportunity cost versus doing something higher impact

Snacks get added onto your lists if you aren’t careful.


I know from experience how hard it is to maintain limitations like this in the long run. However beneficial, we always want things to be quantifiably better: longer hours, larger resolutions, bigger storage. I won’t plan to change my life around this approach. I don’t believe in anything like that anymore. It seemed to work this time, so I’ll ride the wave while I can. https://rakhim.org/small-battery-productivity/

The things that matter

Suprisingly few people bother to think about the point of having a system, or how the nature of

Here’s the things that I think are worth thinking about.

  1. Memory
  2. Prioritisation
  3. Fluidity (rigidity cripples, friction restricts)
  4. Communication (with you in the future)


I like basic to-do lists, mostly because I can’t be bothered to work with anything more complicated. Tags and folders and apps are just additional clicks and taps that I don’t want to think about.

I’ve also just kinda accepted that there’s no perfect to-do system. It is what it is, sucks but we move, etc. etc. So I switch between systems as and when they work well and stop working. I’m not particular about how and what I use, as long as it seems to work for the time being.

Another thing that people seem to misunderstand about lists is that they aren’t meant to be used as a bunch of “do these things!” commands for future you. Assuming that you know exactly what future you should be doing is hubristic at best, self-harm at worst.

Instead, you ought to see lists as helpful assistants who memorise your intentions and aspirations for whenever you need a reminder.