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Building a product and a business is usually a long game - not everything can be done in a weekend.

That being said, how do you organize all of the things that you need to work on, plan for when you need to do them, and keep tabs on your progress?

Do you just wing it, or do you use more established approaches like Agile?

I thought it could be useful to discuss and compare notes for how others prioritize, plan, and get stuff done, as well as keep tabs on what it is that they’ve already done.

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    I think that the fundamental part is planning. Before I do anything for my business I first open Omnifocus and lay down a detailed plan of what I need to do to reach my objective.

    To lay out the plan, I use backwards planning. Basically, I first state the result and then ask myself what do I need to accomplish that. And so on backwards until I have single actionable items. Amy Hoy explains it in more detail here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rgyi2rddempj5vu/The%2030x500%20Guide%20to%20Doing%20It%20Backwards!.pdf

    My plan always includes different kind of objectives related to different business goals: increase traffic, increase signups, increase conversions, product creation etc. I have a list of everything I could do for each one of these. For each iteration I go through, I pick a few and plan them backwards. Then I proceed to cross each items until my iteration is done. Rinse and repeat.

    I also recommend Amy’s “Just Fucking Ship” ebook. https://unicornfree.com/just-fucking-ship/ Backwards planning is just one of the techniques she explores in the book.

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      My plan always includes different kind of objectives related to different business goals: increase traffic, increase signups, increase conversions, product creation etc. I have a list of everything I could do for each one of these. For each iteration I go through, I pick a few and plan them backwards. Then I proceed to cross each items until my iteration is done. Rinse and repeat.

      I love this.

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        I have to say that one of the biggest psychological barrier I have found is overwhelm and we rarely realize that that is the problem. When a task we have to do is to big, our brain automatically switches away from it to more simple things and we don’t notice the problem because it’s subconscious. When you break things into smaller tasks, it all magically becomes simpler. You know you can just pick any tiny to-do item and complete it. That’s huge to keep moving forward.

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        Love the backwards planning idea! I just flicked through Amy’s ebook and she’s right, we often go about planning completely arseways: think of the end result but then, try to plan how to get there from the starting line. Doh!

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        Similar to @matteom’s answer, I start by writing down goals on pen and paper (I recently wrote a fluff piece about that here. My inspiration for that workflow is partly because its what my father swears by, and partly because its a critical part of the workflow described in How to Get What You Want. At this point I firmly believe in the value of pen and paper as much as I do a good bug tracker for software; you just wont get very far without a system in place.

        I have done projects under “agile” and “kanban” style development, and I personally much prefer Kanban. For projects that are just me though, it does not really work well. Both are designed around teams, I am not a team unfortunately. So I just come up with a list of things to do, break them down rigorously, prioritize them, and chunk through them. I feel like this is not a unique answer, but it does work!

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          I feel like this is not a unique answer

          I think it’s a fallacy we all have to look for unique or innovative answers. For many things, solutions have already been found. It’s better to just adopt one of those. One thing that I picked up from different people is, if you want something, find someone that already got there and learn from them. Pretty simple in retrospect, but the vast majority of people try to do everything on their own.

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          i have a very simple step by step list, that I review/edit/curate for a specific project.

          let’s say, my objective is to build a simple cookie cutter app, that displays a certain output given a few inputs.

          my step-by-step list would go like this

          1. build a simple iOS interface, with 2 inputs
          2. implement the calculation function in Swift
          3. test output on the simulator and device
          4. package and test uploading to the app store
          5. start writing description of the app, on iTunes ( i recommend this be Step1, so it keeps the vision/marketing intact )
          6. submit to app store
          7. get feedback from submission process (often times, this takes days, even weeks due to unknown/unexpected bugs)
          8. build + launch the simplest landing page possible
          9. review previous steps, and iterate

          It can be improved/disciplined with a column that says ‘time allocated’, but I prefer it to be simple, and not get constrained down by timelines.

          I curate the list a few times a day, because there’re always minor steps missing from it.

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            I’m currently trying a new system in trello, it’s based on the kanban, or agile tickets system. My first column is a ‘Notes’ column where I keep notes on the product, this is divied in to tickets for Marketing, Content, Major Features, i.e. broad strokes.

            The backlog tends to have features in it for the product, so for an web app it might have “signup”, “landing page”, “blog”. This allows me to keep an eye on big features in the app without having to worry about implementation details. As a ticket moved from the backlog to the “TODO” column, it gets split into actionable tasks. From there it follows a normal “To Do”, “Doing”, ‘Done’ flow.

            I aim for releases - mainly as I’m working on iOS applications at the moment. However a release will include marketing work, advertising etc. This can be “released” as soon as it is done rather then waiting for the application to release. Each of these releases are 4-6 weeks long as it suits my availability and also means that I can get a significant amount of work done in the evening and weekends.

            I include the non-developing work in the releases as it helps me to maintain momentum on a project. Watching a pile of tickets go from “To Do” to “Done” really helps. Deciding on what I want to do for the next 4-6 weeks also helps me plan and follow a loose strategy so I don’t feel like I’m just madly shotgunning things all over the place.

            This all might change, I really try to focus on momentum and tiny chunks of work that will take an hour or two a night to complete as time is quite tight. Momentum or ‘turning up every day’, is really the most important thing, I think.

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              I legit just write .txt to-do lists. Not fancy at all D: