Jul 24, 2014 - 4 minute read - kanban organization arc-m postit levenger circa rollabind GTD productivity agile agile organizer

The Agile Organizer, Part 3 - Retrospectives

(see here for the full Agile Organizer series)


If you do Agile, it’s probable that you do something called a retrospective. At least in the ones I’ve been involved with, there’s usually a part where we go over what’s going well, and what could be changed. With the agile organizer, I’ve found that periodically doing retrospectives about the way I am using it is useful and worthwhile. If you use it, I hope you would too.

The Backlog, and TODO/Doing

One of the things I’ve found is that, like the way my team at work does agile, there are a few buckets that things go into: the backlog, TODO, and Doing. While originally, I put todos onto my calendar page, in part two I went to a blank page to stick things to. Over time, I now have four pages that I put things on depending on what “bucket” they belong in:

  1. regular work stuff
  2. work “hack day” todos
  3. work WFH items
  4. personal todos

The first and last should be obvious. The second, at Spotify, on my squad we have hack days that we get one per sprint (a sprint lasting two weeks). On hack days we can work on things we think would be helpful. Currently, my hack-day items are things like working on our logstash installation, and working on a shell scripting class. The third are work items that are best done when I’m working from home.

With these, they’re a combination of “TODO” and “Doing” in the Kanban sense. My previous “work todo” and “home todo” sections are now the backlog: the distinction being that if they make it to those first pages, I expect to do them in a short-ish timeframe, whereby the things in the tabbed sections, the backlog, are a mixture of GTD’s someday-maybe, and things that I want to do, but don’t expect to do them right now.


I’ve discovered that for me, while the original idea of the PocketMod for collection was not a bad idea, I’ve found something that works even better. At DockerCon 2014, one of the goodies they included in the goody-bag was a Field Notes journal. It was a brilliant idea. Most notebooks I’ve gotten at previous cons may be nice notebooks, but this was great, it was pocket-sized, but big enough; enough pages so I didn’t have to worry about conserving space, but not so much that it was unwieldy.

The only problem I found is that using it post-con was that, being summer, pockets get sweaty and it started deteriorating in a hurry during use. I’m not sure how I found them, but I discovered Rite in the Rain notebooks, specifically, the 391-M (they appear to have been discontinued, but the 371FX-M is a reasonable replacement), which is a little smaller than the Field Notes, but still a good size, and despite my current one being used now for over a month in summer-sweaty conditions (including riding Citi Bikes on hot days), it’s still standing strong. That’s not to say pristine; the cover is worn to a degree, but still in great shape.

It’s worked out really well, both for being a collection device, as well as being a place to put stickies taken from the TODO/Doing pages to take with me when I’m not taking my main notebook with me. The Rite in the Rain notebooks also have ruler markings on the back, which at first I thought were superfluous, but harmless, but they’ve turned out to be more useful than I would have expected.

Recurring Events

I have a number of recurring events on my presonal calendar: taking out the garbage, doing backups, hair cuts, website maintenance, etc. and up until recently had no simple way of managing them. Now, I take a 2"x2” post-it and write the recurring item, and it’s recurrence on it and stick it to my calendar. When the day arrives, it moves to the appropriate TODO/Doing pages, and when done, I put it back on the calendar for it’s next occurence.