Category Archives: Organizing

Project management under the moon

Under the Moon

I was discussing a project plan that was supposed to have tasks on the 2nd week of September 2010, I interjected: “either delay or advance that by a week”…

She was surprised by my words “a week, why???”

I explained to her the concept of Ramadan and Eid, so she also asked “When would you know the exact date?”

I tried not to laugh as I explained it, trying to show her I was being serious “We have estimates, but we need an actual moon sighting, it will be declared the night before, but it’s one of two days, the rest of the week should be public holidays”.

Since I explained it was a religious thing, she didn’t want to argue, but she ended our meeting with a smile and “This is the first time my project plan depended on the moon”.

I laughed and told her she could add the moon as a project resource.

Photo is by David Biesack and is licensed creative commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Useless conferences

Conference

I sat so much in full day(s) conferences, most of which I argue are useless. They were mostly designed for people who have heard it before and already agree or are not listening, with no possibility of disagreeing with what is being said.

It’s a one-way information flow mechanism where you are one of the tens, hundreds, or thousands of people listening, and one person speaks. You shut up.

The person speaking claims to know a lot more you do and just reads slides stating mostly things you already know, or things that are plain wrong! Most of the time I think that most people on a full-day conference are there just for the lunch (most conferences in Qatar are organized in 5-star hotels)!

After I started writing this post, I Googled for “useless conferences”, and the first result was the unforgettable Seth Godin, and how he analyzes “how to run a useless conference“, and says that most conferences were designed as a typical experience for average people.

Have you ever gone to a conference not like that? How can one become a conference speaker?

Photo is by Clément Petit and is licensed creative commons (CC BY 2.0).

Organize your life!

I’m not writing here about organizing your office, desk, or even house. I found it much easier to use GTD-like concepts in everything in my life. It makes it much simpler to do what you need to do without constantly thinking about what you can do next.

I use many tools, to manage my contacts, calendar, notes, documents, source codes. This organizes my life.

Contacts

When I get a call from somebody who’s not on my contacts, unless they called me by mistake, I add them to my contacts list:

  1. Marketers : With the prefix MKT-DNR as in Marketer, Do not reply.
  2. Somebody I know: Their info.
  3. Somebody else: usually what I know of name, job, where they work as in “Ali”, “Plumber”, “Company X” space separated as their name, which would let me type plumber and get a list of all plumbers I have dealt with …

Calendar

My calendar is currently on my blackberry, and is synchronized with my work calendar in MS Outlook (anybody could use Google Calendar and sync to that). It includes everything I need to do or know at a specific date, or regularly… Some examples include things that most people would take for granted:

  1. Weekdays: reminders to get up, go to work, set daily tasks (in calendars), go to prayers, go back home…
  2. Weekly every Friday : prayers-related reminders like take a bath, go to the mosque… and visit parents’ house. (It’s all scheduled and blocked in the calendar)
  3. Weekly: GTD reminders.
  4. Monthly: Usually on a specific date, I’d get reminders to go to the barber with my son.
  5. I also schedule anything new like: “Call X company to get warranty repair for Y” Monday at 9:00, which I would change to “repair man should be home” on Tuesday at 11:00 if they told me he’d come at that time.
  6. When a friend calls and asks to go out, I check my calendar before adding an entry to meet him.
  7. Reminders to buy gifts for special occasions.

When I can’t do something on the date/time of the reminders, I would simply reschedule it.

Evernote

Evernote is my notes repository, it includes many notes I would take on the fly (on my BB), using several ways:

  1. I usually take voice notes while driving, just talking about something I thought about. I don’t leave an idea floating in my head, I record it.
  2. When I take notes on paper I take a photo of the notes.
  3. Photos of invoices, including the date in the tags.
  4. Photos of workhours signs of places I go to.
  5. Photos of menus? why not?

Source Code

I have my own version control system running on a virtual server online that currently serves subversion. This allows me to keep multiple versions of every file, and be able to look at, or go back to an earlier version whenever I need to.

Documents

I have two basic types of documents:

  1. General live documents that may not need a lot of control on printing, or that I may need to share and collaborate with other people on: Google Documents!
  2. Bigger documents, where I need full control, and a fully-fledged word processor: I put them on my subversion repository.

These were the basic tools I use, please give me some feedback on what you use by commenting here or on twitter. Thanks.

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