Project management for one

I thought it might be good to discuss how a single person prioritizes/schedules/etc. all the tasks involved in bootstrapping a company. Without a system, it is easy to let the important but boring or hard tasks get displaced by the interesting and fun ones. It can also mean that important tasks just get forgotten.

Is anyone using Getting Things Done for this? How do you use it?

I can write a bit about Scrum:

While often used for programming, Scrum is ultimately a way to prioritize and schedule tasks. Of particular value is the Scrum version of a backlog. In Scrum, it is a single list of ‘things to be done’ kept in strict priority order. As new marketing tasks, bugs, feature requests, etc. are discovered, they are added to the backlog at their priority, which may necessarily change the priority of other items. The backlog can be reviewed as needed to change priorities or cull items no longer relevant. It’s good discipline to always add items to the backlog before working on them and it helps make sure that the highest priority items get worked on, not the newest, easiest, or most interesting. Items high in priority need to be fleshed out with an estimate and enough information about the task so that they can be taken from the backlog and worked on without lots of additional research to define what to do.

Work is done in iterations (also called sprints), usually 1-4 weeks in duration (1 week seems to make the most sense for people doing Scrum on their own). Items are taken from the backlog and put into the iteration until there is no more estimated time left in the iteration. Tasks too big for an iteration need to be broken down further. New tasks which come up during an iteration are added to the backlog, not worked on immediately if at all possible. After an iteration, the backlog can be reviewed in light of the progress made and new tasks discovered to decide what to work on in the next iteration.

There’s more to Scrum, so here are some resources:

While focused on game development, this interview gives a good overview of how a former project manager does Scrum for one:

I really like the book Agile Software Development with Scrum by Schwaber and Beedle. It’s old, not available electronically, and relatively expensive, but it’s short, focused and does a great job of explaining the ideas behind Scrum and why it is useful.

A lot of the time with our products it’ll start with just me but then one or two of the other people in my team get involved so I try to use the same method whatever.

I use a combo of specific function Trello boards modelled the same way as in this excellent article as well as a git flow methodology I describe here.

The pairing of these two works really well for me so that no code is written without a link to a user story and no code is declared production-ready that isn’t trackable or code-reviewed.

+1 to git-flow.

My process is super barebones right now. I use Excel, plan out tasks for two weeks, check them off as I go. Rough backlog is in a second sheet. I feel like there should be a better option than Excel, but it just sorta works…

Best part of my process: sprints finish on a Tuesday, so end of sprint never interrupts Friday drinks.

For my product, I just use github issues, then pull-requests and merge.

I organize things a bit into milestones but I do not put too much pressure on myself, because so many things need to be done, and my brain would just melt otherwise.

I keep ideas of articles in my git repo as well.

My github issues can be labelled marketing, promotion, feature, security, performance, and so on.

Note that previously I used Scrum/Agile etc (I was a certified Scrum Product Owner), today I’m more on a lose side of things, and happy with this.

I track my time with Freckle for my freelancing work, and do the same for my product, so I have a way to realize that I worked too much and should tune down a bit for a while.

When I feel overloaded, I just remind me to limit the number of ongoing tasks to one or two, a bit like in Kanban but with a very small stack.

Hope this helps!

This is amazing. I’ve read up on Git Flow a few times in the past but for whatever reason, it just didn’t click. But now I’m reading up and my it’s blowing my mind. My system is so haphazard compared to this. The benefit/detriment of ‘project management for one’ I suppose.

Do you guys that use Git Flow, do you use the enhanced tools? ie or do you simply use the flow model with regular git commands? ( @imsickofmaps, I see you do in your gist, @danielstudds, do you?)

Yeah - I use that tool and

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Awesome. Thanks so much!

Yeah, I use the tool as well - @imsickofmaps put me on to it in this thread. I don’t use hub - is that as earthshattering as gitflow?

For a small project, I simple use a TODO text file in the project root and capture tasks there. You can reorder and manage pretty simply. Though you don’t get the satisfaction of crossing something off.

For larger projects, I use a tool called Task Warrior. It is a pretty simple command-line text-based tool to track tasks. I do a simple High, Medium, Low priority and work down them in order. It’s a step up from a simple text file but without requiring a huge process, system to manage, especially if you’re just one person.

I have used a couple of different methods depending on my business model at the time.

When I was freelancing and handling multiple projects, I got by with using GTD methodology with Things (mac/iOS app).

Recently I’ve shifted into an entrepreneurial position running SaaS apps and building informational products. Because my business doesn’t really require clients, but more lifestyle and areas of focus, I’ve documented a method of using Evernote, Trello, and Google Calendar to plan out my year, month, week, and day. It’s worked out pretty well so far to keep things organized.