A recent Gamasutra blog posted about Escaping the Indie Shame Spiral. It described ways to prioritise work and get stuff done. I work in a similar manner and decided to detail it here.
The article talks about using Trello or Pivotal Tracker to record tasks and the speed of work completed. I started using Trello; it is a great product, for an online todo list. However, as a lone developer, the friction of typing tasks and updating progress was not worth the benefits. No one else needs to coordinate their work with mine and I can largely keep the state of the project in my head. Trello was just acting as a backup and reminder for those “nice to do, but not vital” tasks that always seem to be done when there is time (which is rarely).
Instead I keep my task list on paper. Since I use a standing desk for coding, a notebook is laid down open at normal desk height. I can look down and see what needs to be done next. If there is something to be added or completed I just lean down and scribble it down or scratch it out. Very little effort is required - thoughts are quickly translated to text. I also keep paper around to work through coding problems or sketch out designs, again very easy and low friction. The downside is that I need to transcribe the task list every couple of weeks as the pages are filled. Although, that often reminds me of some of the lower priority tasks that might otherwise be forgotten. Here is my todo list (the left page in the large notebook) and notes (all the other pages) as they stand today .
The Gamasutra article also mentions using commitments as deadlines and motivation to complete tasks. A great idea. My original commitments were alpha testing (completed) and GDC (abandoned). The article has reminded me to set some more! So here they are: