a blog about programming and startups by Brian Brunner

Post It Notes > Software Project Organization

03 Apr 2014

I have a really hard time using most task management and organization software. Jira is too complex for me. Trello requires you to put in a ton of work to develop a system to use it. Asana might be great for managing business-oriented work, but it just doesn’t seem to be that good for managing software development.

Maybe I just don’t get it or I’m out of touch, but I’ve yet to find anything that works better for me than post it notes.

Seriously. I manage tasks by keeping a huge number of post it notes stuck to my desk and my monitor. When I work with a team, I typically take tasks assigned to me on whatever lackluster team management solution we’re using and physically write them out. I can stare at everything I need to do. I can easily prioritize things by changing their physical order. When I’m done with a task, I get to actually tear the post it off my desk and throw it away. It’s a nice cathartic experience.

If I’m honest, Trello has definitely come the closest to being a good product. It is, in many ways, digital post its. It has cards that you can write on. You can organize the cards into lists. The lists can be grouped together into boards.

In my experience, however, Trello tends to fall apart when you have a single board being used to track tasks for more than two or three people. It just gets too cluttered. I also dislike the sheer amount of cruft that you can add to any single card. You can tag things, add attachments, add checklists (tasks within tasks), make comments, @ mention people and a whole slew of other things. It quickly can become a nightmare. You can try to develop processes on top of trello, but making a team actually use those processes correctly can be tough.

So, am I calling for another new task manager? Not in the slightest. There are too many of them as it is. I’m just saying that, if you really want to be effective at task management, consider post its. They’ve been around forever, they work great, and they’ll cost you less than the $10 bucks a seat you’re paying for your fancy task management software.

(Since keeping a stack of post its with you at all times is impractical and just ridiculous, I do, despite its shortcomings, begrudgingly recommend Trello.)

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