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From: "Sébastien Gendre" <seb@k-7.ch>
To: Tim Cross <theophilusx@gmail.com>
Cc: emacs-orgmode@gnu.org
Subject: Re: How do you manage complex project with Org-mode
Date: Wed, 02 Mar 2022 21:33:37 +0100	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <87czj4t6yc.fsf@k-7.ch> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <87h78hrdf8.fsf@gmail.com>

Hello Tim,

Thanks for your response and advice.

I want to keep Org-mode as simple as possible. As you suggest.

In the past, I ended up several times with a too complex Org-mode
workflow and stop using it because of that. That because, today, I want
to keep it simple. Usually, I apply a GTD workflow (or what I think it
is, I'm not an expert).

As you say, I need to learn skills for project management. But the
project management methods we learned at school where to rigid. And, at
work, the method is more "do the job, stop thinking, be professional".
But it's, or was, the kind of job where you are asked to "not write test
to save time". I generally have bad experiences at work.

To manage school big work, I think of managing them as projects.

I want to apply a simple "Project" workflow:

* Each project is a headline with the status "PROJECT"
* Each project have the deadline defined by the school work deadline
* Each project have a complete description with every info needed to work
* Each project have one or many tasks (as sub headlines with a status)
* Each task have a importance, time and effort estimation
* Each task have its own deadline, distributed along the remaining time
* When I set a task deadline, I look at its estimations and also other projects tasks
* To create a new project, I use Org-capture with a template

Every time I create a new project, it start with one task: "Planning the
project". With a deadline at 2 days max. The description of this task is
a checkbox list of thing to do when planning the project.

And finally, 2 times per week, I got a repetitive task: "Review the
projects progress". With this, I should be able to adjust spending time
and effort.

I think it would be simple and need only a few Org-mode configurations.
And by doing like that, every time I look at the agenda, I will see what
work I need to do every days. Task of each project or review of all

Tim Cross <theophilusx@gmail.com> writes:

> Sébastien Gendre <seb@k-7.ch> writes:
>> Hello,
>> I don't know if it's the correct place to ask it. If not, sorry to ask in
>> the wrong place.
> I think it is the correct place. This is a list for general org mode
> discussions. Such discussions can be technical or about how to use org mode.
>> How do you manage complex project with Org-mode ?
>> I used Org-mode for several periods of time in recent years. It worked
>> very well for short and day to day tasks. When only a few of theme have
>> deadlines and when you have plenty of time to do them.
>> But, as a student, I regularly have big and important projects to do for
>> the school. The kind of project who need several days to be done, with
>> deadlines too soon, and if you fail one them the consequences can be
>> disastrous. And generally, I have to many of these project in the same
>> time and not enough time to do all the work. So, I also need to follow
>> the progress of each project to choose which is sufficiently advanced to
>> be stop for the benefit of another less advanced project.
>> And I don't know how to manage this kind of projects with Org-mode. How
>> to do it, without failing a 6 days project because I spent to much time
>> on something else and I have only 3 days left with 3 half-day important
>> appointment I cannot cancel. I can't risk failing a single one of these
>> project by trying. So, when I am in a period with a lot of these
>> projects, I stop using Org-mode and concentrate on doing these project
>> as fast as I can. And because I often have this kind of project, I spend
>> most of the year without being able to use Org-mode.
> The first thing I would say is that org mode is NOT going to solve your
> problems of too many tasks with competing priorities in too short a time
> period or mitigate the impact from missed deadlines etc. In fact, no
> project management software can do this.
> Org mode is merely a tool which can help you manage tasks, deadlines,
> schedules, priorities and project information. It can help you track
> your tasks so fewer are overlooked/forgotten, it can help you manage
> your deadlines and scheduling of time and it can help you manage
> priorities and provide you with an overview of things that can alert you
> to issues earlier, allowing for a wider range of mitigation
> strategies. However, it is just a tool and how well you use that tool
> will come down to experience and self discipline.
>> So, if you have any suggestion on how to manage, in Org-mode, projects
>> with:
>> * Lot of work to do (many days)
>> * Short deadline (not enough time)
>> * High importance (disastrous consequences in my future in case of fail)
>> * Many of them in the same time
>> * Progression need to be followed to chose where to sacrifice time to
>>   limit the damages
> That list is almost an exact match for the job criteria on the last job
> I applied for, which highlights the point these are individual skills
> which need to be learned, primarily through experience and not something
> which can be solved by a software tool. Such tools can help ensure
> things don't fall through the gaps during busy stressful projects, can
> help you assess how much work needs to be done and where corners will
> need to be cut or deadlines changed, scope reduced or quality
> decreased. At some point, you have to make a call as to what you will
> manage in your org-mode files. Too much or too detailed and too much
> time will be spent gathering and managing the data. Too little or
> insufficient detail and decisions on what has to be sacrificed are
> likely to be misguided or wrong. Unfortunately, there is no formula to
> calculate this. It will depend on the environment, types of projects and
> individual experience and preferences.
> The key to using org mode to manage projects is largely about
> incremental refinement. You start by defining a plan on how to use org
> mode, you then implement that plan and start using it. You then review
> how well it is working at some point and take the experience to that
> point, both positive and negative, into a new cycle, starting with a new
> plan (refined plan), implement, use review and continue this cycle
> (probably indefinitely, but likely with longer cycles).
> In general, I would recommend the following
> - Start simple. Don't try to do everything all at once. Org is extremely
>   flexible with a lot of built-in functionality. Trying to use all of it
>   all at once is likely going to make it a burden rather than an aid.
> - Start with a default org-mode configuration. A mistake I've seen
>   people make many times is to immediately start by configuring new and
>   complicated TODO states or complicated capture templates or extensive
>   tag hierarchies and complex priority levels. Avoid the temptation to
>   over engineer your requirements. Use the default configuration for a
>   time and then evaluate things and decide where to make some small
>   changes.
> - Don't let the tail wag the dog. Remember, org mode is there to make
>   your life easier. If you find your now spending all your time trying
>   to capture tasks, set priorities, clock in/out of tasks, fill in
>   capture templates etc, your doing it wrong. Org mode should be saving
>   you time, not consuming it.
> - Be broad in your research. When trying to develop a better way to
>   manage your projects/workflow/tasks, don't just look at how people do
>   it in org. Look at more general solutions and then see how org can be
>   used to support whatever approach you want to use. For example, many
>   people like the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach, others prefer an
>   approach based on Agile project management methodologies and others
>   use org mode based on a PRINC2 PM model.
> - Don't try to put all your projects into org at once. Pick a project
>   and use org to manage it. This will be your initial test case. The
>   project which will help you learn about org mode and apply your
>   project management sills using org mode as your primary management
>   tool.
> My own approach is probably best described as a hybrid or maybe
> Frankenstein model. I have cherry picked bits from various approaches to
> come up with something that works for me. It probably wouldn't work for
> anyone else, but I find it has improved my ability to get projects done,
> to track the critical information associated with a project and reduce
> the number of tasks I overlook or forget. It took me a while to get to
> this point and there were a fair number of mistakes made on the
> way. Many of my original tweaks and configuration changes have been
> removed and my setup is probably closer to a default configuration than
> it ever has been before.
> The main objectives for my own configuration were
> - Make it easy to capture information and deal with it later. When your
>   working on a task, other things will intrude and work to distract
>   you. I try to minimise these by having a minimal set of capture
>   templates which will allow me to capture some bit of information, some
>   random, but possibly important idea, some phone call from a client, a
>   task my wife wants done etc., which will be captured into a file which
>   I will go through later. This allows me to get back to what I'm trying
>   to focus on with minimal distraction.
> - Keep active tasks to a minimum. There is no point having a task list
>   with hundreds of entries to select from when your trying to decide
>   what to do next. So many tasks will cause stress and make it difficult
>   to decide which tasks should be worked on next. I treat my list of
>   tasks in a TODO state as my backlog of tasks. Many of them will
>   probably never be acted upon. Every fortnight or so, I will go through
>   the list and flag some as 'NEXT' tasks. The aim is to ensure there are
>   sufficient STARTED and NEXT tasks to keep me fully allocated for the
>   next 'sprint'. When I start a task, its state moves from NEXT to
>   STARTED. It will then transition to DONE, DELEGATED, HOLD or CANCELLED
>   as necessary. Only tasks wiht a STARTED/NEXT/HOLD state appear in my
>   agenda. Typically, there are never more than 10 tasks in a
>   STARTED/NEXT state.
> - When working, I use a pmodoro approach. I work in 20 - 40 minute
>   periods with a 5 minute break between periods and a 15 minute break
>   after every 3 or 4 periods. During a period, I will not respond to or
>   read email, will not answer the phone and will pretty much ignore
>   everything except the task I'm working on.
> - I always check in and check out when I'm working on a task. This is
>   partially because I want to track where I'm spending time, but mainly
>   to help me improve my effort estimation skills. The ability to make
>   accurate effort estimations is an important skill, but one which is
>   hard to develop. Comparing effort estimates with actual completion
>   effort can help improve effort estimate reliability.
> - I tend to only use SCHEDULED times for things which have a definite
>   scheduled time (like a meeting) and only use DEADLINE when there is a
>   real and definite deadline. I sometimes use priorities, but not often
>   and only use the standard #A, #B and #C. I don't see the point in
>   having more than 3 levels of priority.

  reply	other threads:[~2022-03-02 20:51 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 21+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2022-03-01  1:43 Sébastien Gendre
2022-03-01  4:03 ` Matt
2022-03-02 19:44   ` Sébastien Gendre
2022-03-01  6:43 ` Dr. Arne Babenhauserheide
2022-03-02 20:00   ` Sébastien Gendre
2022-03-01  7:12 ` Tim Cross
2022-03-02 20:33   ` Sébastien Gendre [this message]
2022-03-02 21:55     ` Tim Cross
2022-03-20  5:16       ` Ihor Radchenko
2022-03-20 21:24         ` Tim Cross
2022-03-21  9:25           ` Ihor Radchenko
2022-03-20  5:06     ` Ihor Radchenko
2022-03-01 19:26 ` Antonio Carlos Padoan Junior
2022-03-02 20:53   ` Sébastien Gendre
2022-03-01 21:06 ` Milan Zamazal
2022-03-02 20:58   ` Sébastien Gendre
2022-03-02 16:29 ` Quiliro Ordóñez
2022-03-02 21:05   ` Sébastien Gendre
2022-03-01  4:38 Eric Abrahamsen
2022-03-02 21:26 ` Sébastien Gendre
2022-03-02 23:35   ` Eric Abrahamsen

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