How to Rescue Failing Software Projects: Practical Proven Methods That Work

IMG_1712 My book is finally available as an eBook, on Amazon Kindle and on Amazon. I wrote this book to share my experience in how to rescue failing software projects. When I was going through such a situation, I had no one to turn to. My hope is that the information in this book will be useful to those in similar situations. Although the information in the book pertains to software projects, I have come to realize that the techniques can be used in many other situations. I have personally used these techniques in business and technical projects.

You can read more about it here.
My book can be purchased here at
Amazon Kindle version is available here at

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Self Effectiveness: To-do lists or not to-do lists

I have always been intrigue with to-do lists. Ever since I can remember, having a to-do list made me feel like an important person when I was a child! :-) In primary school, I had to-do lists of homework to be done from school. Of course, these to-do lists were created on a whim, as and when I felt "productive". Most of the time, the work to be done were remembered in my head. It served me well.

When I entered the workforce, many people used business diaries. I was not different. I had one too! It contained important activities that I had to do in the to-do list section, whilst appointments were recorded in the section with a timeline. Again, this served me well for some time.

When activities started to pile up, and when I was involved in projects, I was overwhelmed. The tasks that were remembered in my head remained there. I was stressed because I was afraid of forgetting about doing them. My mind was not used for thinking. Instead, it spent time reminding itself not to forget. I couldn't sleep well. At times, I would wake up in the middle of the night in panic, thinking that I had forgotten to do something.

I made it a point to write activities down in my to-do list. After all, the diary's section with the timeline was for appointments. Again, this worked well for about 1 week. After that, my to-do list was overflowing with activities. I read books about prioritization. I tried to prioritize the activities in A, B,C. Later, prioritized them into A1, A2, B1, B2.Then it came down to trying to select which activity to do first. Instead of performing the activity, I spent the majority of my time deciding which activity to begin because I wasn't sure if I could complete it on time, which will affect other activities.

What did I do?

I cancelled every activity on the to-do list. I started a new to-do list. Boy, did it feel good with a brand new list. My feeling of elation didn't last long, I went back to an overflowing to-do list, missed deadlines, became extremely stressed about missing activities.

This is where is dawned upon me to ensure all activities are time bound. Time must be allocated to all activities. (Refer to my previous posts on "write, write, write" here and here and here). The foundation is still to have the habit of writing things down.

Do I still use a to-do lists? Yes I do, but only for short lists and activities that can be done within a consecutive block of time. For example, shopping for groceries, post letters, withdraw cash. To-do lists still has its place in effectiveness. However, I personally believe that to be effective, all activities must be time bound...And MUST be written down.

Think this is easy? No it isn't. Try it for 4 weeks and let me know if this works for you. Let me know when you embark on this method by leaving me a comment. I'd like to hear from you.

So, "to-do" or not "to-do" lists? Do to-do lists, but sparingly. The feel good factor of creating new lists each time is a false sense of achievement. It simply relinquishes you of your responsibilities, instead of taking responsibility for your actions through timely activities.

Can you see how this related to self effectiveness, which in turn, helps you to effectively achieve your goals in wealth and health? I hope so. Leave me a comment on your thoughts or subscribe to this blog so that you will be sent an email whenever I post an entry.

Copyright Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

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