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When talking to my mate, Alan, the other day, he mentioned that he had listed all the tasks he had set himself for gaming and modelling and it had come to a page and a half of A4. In what sized font? I wanted to ask.

Managing the self imposed workload is one of the bits of fun that we have in this hobby. It is probably the one place in which we take the desperately inflicted lessons of our workplaces and actually put them to good use (rather than at work where they would have been useful for the company).

In my corporate life I am exposed to Agile development and Lean practices, and I even set up a virtual KanBan wall to track progress on my hobbies. In a way this was field testing what the bright young consultant things want us to do – but in a context that has some meaning. Honestly? I found the virtual KanBan wall to be of only marginal value. Like owning a PC (in comparison to a Mac), I found myself spending more time maintaining the items in the to-do list than I actually spent doing them.

Here’s what I do now: I have cut tabs a centimetre wide and two or three long from postit notes. On these I have written, in no particular order:

  • TM
  • JR
  • FIB
  • 40k
  • BN
  • TLV

These stand for Typhoon Maiden (defining a story telling setting for Rogue Trader), Jurassic Reich (assist in writing the source book), Forged in Blood (write the Ganesha rules), Warhammer 40,000 (support son in this game), Bossa Nova (develop the Steampunk story telling setting), The Last Valley (develop the darkly romantic late Renaissance story telling setting). Story telling here just means any games from wargaming through to role-playing.

These postits start on one side of my monitor. As I do something – anything, for that topic, I get to move it to the other side of the monitor. This gives me a visual appreciation of whether I have or have not made any progress on these topics. The goal is to do at least one thing on any of them a day, and once it is moved to the other side, to not return to it until all tabs have moved. This prevents me from focussing on only one thing for weeks and letting the rest slide.

Conversely, I find it best to think about only one thing at a time  to avoid multi-tasking. But as soon as one tab is moved I drop thinking about it and can immediately start on another. Thinking about the others waiting is a no-no, though.

So far I find this system to be working for me. Rather than tie myself to a specific task that just torments me, if I commit to doing anything, including just reading on the topic, then it progresses. Do a blog entry; add a paragraph to the rules; set up a new spreadsheet; paint a bit, all of these and more count as valid tasks. This is eating the elephant one bite at a time, without specifying the order of eating.