Schedule and Events

March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
July, 14-15, 2012 - Test Coach Camp, San Jose, California
July, 16-18, 2012 - Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST 2012), San Jose, California
August 2012+ - At Liberty; available. Contact me by email:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Few Of My Favorite Things - IV

I am vaguely disorganized.

No, please don't jump out of your seat and tell me that I "Have" to get more organized.

I don't buy it. I've run a successful regional software conference with my methods; they seem to be doing just fine.

I used to tell a story about how I felt bad or guilty for being so disorganized, until I saw David Parker's Office at Salisbury University. Dr. Parker was is one of the best problem solvers I have ever met, and he had literally two feet of paper covering his entire office. He was promoted to Department Chair the year after I met him.

Yet many of the organization folks still don't buy it. That was an exception; being "Organized" is "right."

Ok, I'll try again. One more time: My creative output is an order of magnitude higher than any 'organization evangelist' that I have ever met. When I read storys of Euler, Guass, Einstein, Joedel, Escher, Newton ... they sound a lot more like me than the organization people.

Personally, I value the Creative Chaos. Heck, it's the name of my blog.

At the same time, I recognize the consequences of that kind of thought-life style. Things do get missed. Things do get forgotten. When I get an idea in my head (a hundred years ago, they would say "when the muse strikes") I zone out of the real world until I can get the idea down, or, worse, I lose the idea.


So here's the tool of the day: 3x5 Index Cards.

I use index cards for everything.

Blog ideas
Testing ideas
Managing evolving requirements
Moving from a vague and floofy requirement to something concrete
Getting those concrete requirements in some sort of priority
Article ideas
Presentation ideas
Bullets points
Things to come back to
Groceries to pick up on the way home
Things to not forget

No, they aren't organized. My 'system' consists of the blank cards, a wallet-like holder, and a place to stick finished cards. I also have a box for requirements cards.

There are piles of index cards all over, and things still get lost, but less things get lost, and I can swap ideas out of my head with less fear of losing them.

For me, index cards aren't an organization strategy; they are a way to compensate for my lack of organization.

My next step will probably be to get a notebook, so there is a sense of order and history to the notes; this might help me recollect ideas later. The problem is that the notebook will have to be about the size of a PDA, or I won't carry it with me ...

Still, today's favorite tool is a 3x5 index cards. If you want one single ridiculously cheap tool to start trying today, there's my number one suggestion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Notebooks are great. I've got a number of them. Some I use in specific circumstances--a particular project, sysadmin work on my computers. Others I start and leave lying somewhere inconvenient.

In my shirt pocket I carry index cards. I never have to worry about this being the wrong set of cards for what I'm about to write. I never have to worry about getting a bunch of irrelevant stuff cluttering up the gems I want to keep. I can rearrange the order any time I want. I can use them for temporary notes and give them to other people. Yeah, 3x5 cards are the ticket.