Skip to main content

Getting Things Done - For Software Developers

I have been using the incredibly simple techniques within Getting Things Done (GTD) to good effect over the last twelve months.

The System

At a high level the system consists of buckets, grouping and a task store. The actual implementation of GTD systems is down to personal preference. Many find their system changes and evolves over time.


Have one or more buckets which act as simple dumping grounds for anything you need to do. My phone, pen and paper and post it notes are the three core buckets I use.

Buckets are where you store anything that takes more than a couple of minutes to do. If something takes less time, just do it there and then. Regularly empty the buckets and assign them to groupings of related items. Example groupings include tasks around the house, work projects, blog items, or items to buy.


Each grouping can then be allocated a priority. Each grouping essentially becomes a mini kanban board.

Grouping is preferred to having one big todo list as different scenarios allows the act of tackling items when the time is right. If you have thirty minutes to spare on the computer, anything that can be done via the PC can be worked on. Likewise if the weather is good, what tasks can I do outside?


I use Trello for the storing of tasks. Trello has the added benefit of being able to assign due dates, notes and comments. The boards also make priorities visible. The more tasks in a column, the more to do and potentially the more attention a certain grouping should be given.

Daily one or more emails land in my inbox after being filtered. These are tasks that need doing within the next twenty four hours. These are simply reminders or tickles to complete a task by a set date.

Day to Day

GTD has been a great assistance not just in software development, but day to day life in general. There is more to GTD but the core system is very simple yet highly effective.

One of the biggest benefits of GTD is the ability to clear you mind. As everything is recorded or waiting in a bucket nothing gets forgotten. Instead you can focus on exactly what you need to be doing at the time.

In part the use of GTD is partly responsible for the growth of this blog from 2014 to present.


Popular posts from this blog

Constant Object Anti Pattern

Most constants are used to remove magic numbers or variables that lack context. A classic example would be code littered with the number 7. What does this refer to exactly? If this was replaced with DaysInWeek or similar, much clarity is provided. You can determine that code performing offsets would be adding days, rather than a mysterious number seven.Sadly a common pattern which uses constants is the use of a single constant file or object. The beauty of constants is clarity, and the obvious fact such variables are fixed. When a constant container is used, constants are simply lumped together. These can grow in size and often become a dumping ground for all values within the application.A disadvantage of this pattern is the actual value is hidden. While a friendly variable name is great, there will come a time where you will want to know the actual value. This forces you to navigate, if only to peek at the value within the constant object. A solution is to simple perform a refactor …

Three Steps to Code Quality via TDD

Common complaints and problems that I've both encountered and hear other developers raise when it comes to the practice of Test Driven Development are: Impossible to refactor without all the tests breakingMinor changes require hours of changes to test codeTest setup is huge, slow to write and difficult to understandThe use of test doubles (mocks, stubs and fakes is confusing)Over the next three posts I will demonstrate three easy steps that can resolve the problems above. In turn this will allow developers to gain one of the benefits that TDD promises - the ability to refactor your code mercifully in order to improve code quality.StepsStop Making Everything PublicLimit the Amount of Dependencies you Use A Unit is Not Always a Method or ClassCode quality is a tricky subject and highly subjective, however if you follow the three guidelines above you should have the ability to radically change implementation details and therefore improve code quality when needed.

DRY vs DAMP in Tests

In the previous post I mentioned that duplication in tests is not always bad. Sometimes duplication becomes a problem. Tests can become large or virtually identically excluding a few lines. Changes to these tests can take a while and increase the maintenance overhead. At this point, DRY violations need to be resolved.SolutionsTest HelpersA common solution is to extract common functionality into setup methods or other helper utilities. While this will remove and reduce duplication this can make tests a bit harder to read as the test is now split amongst unrelated components. There is a limit to how useful such extractions can help as each test may need to do something slightly differently.DAMP - Descriptive and Meaningful PhrasesDescriptive and Meaningful Phrases is the alter ego of DRY. DAMP tests often use the builder pattern to construct the System Under Test. This allows calls to be chained in a fluent API style, similar to the Page Object Pattern. Internally the implementation wil…