Wilcox Development Solutions Blog

Interrupt Based Developer Weekly Bujo

December 13, 2021

Some senior+ developer roles have a lot going on. In my work I had many inputs happening concurrently: meetings, Slack messages, email, and my current Jira ticket work. Sometimes a meeting might spawn 4 different next actions that I would need to handle.

I developed a finely tuned sense of urgency: Is this new task important enough that I have to do it right now?. If builds are broken across the project that’s one thing, but if I could delay the task to later I really tried to, protecting my current attention (the thing I should be working on), by putting this new task into one of three inboxes.

These three inbox options are:

  • Outlook’s Inbox (if it’s from an email)
  • Slack Reminders functionality (if it’s from a Slack message)
  • Weekly Bullet journal page (most other things)

(I have since added “Reminders.app” to this list, especially for dated reminders)

Wait, what is that weekly bullet journal page?

Something I quickly found critical in this work was keeping a paper notebook and clipboard.

Why paper? Because there is no interface with paper: I want to grab it and write, not flip apps on my computer (potentially disrupting me presenting!); or if I keep an iPad/Remarkable around I still have to deal with that interface.

So every week I would print off the following template

(Meant to be printed two sided, thus the upside down text on the right)

weekly-bujo

The bullet journal people would call this a weekly spread. Bullet Journals might also contain Daily Spreads - one page per day - but I find the layout of those too often turn into a bad copy of my Outlook agenda. Especially as I keep daily work logs in Markdown files on my computer,.

Built into my weekly spread template is todos; space for reflection of what you did during the week (very useful for yearly reviews!); what code reviews/pull requests you might need to close the loop on; weekly/monthly/yearly goals, and a space for notes.

The workflow this supports

During the day

During the day, as requests come in, I handled them through a workflow summarized like so (for non critical or interactive conversations).

d 5 minutes or less 5 minutes or less Do It Now Do It Now 5 minutes or less->Do It Now And I have time Slack Reminder Slack Reminder 5 minutes or less->Slack Reminder No time! BUJO entry BUJO entry 5 minutes or less->BUJO entry No time! Perhaps dated entry on BUJO 15 minutes or less 15 minutes or less 15 minutes or less->Slack Reminder 15 minutes or less->BUJO entry an hour+ an hour+ an hour+->BUJO entry Jira Jira an hour+->Jira

If I create a pull request, for my teammates to review some code, the PR goes in the PR section of the BUJO, so I don’t forget about it!

Likewise, if I see the day is getting away from me - I’m getting swamped with emails and one I need to take action on is getting further and further down the list - the bujo can act as a meta-inbox: “Remember John’s email about Client Foobar sent 12/13/2021”.

Review time!

When I sit down to my computer to start the day I:

  1. Check email
  2. Check Slack
  3. Check Slack Reminders I set for myself (using the “remind me about this tomorrow” option)
  4. Look at Weekly BUJO - anything that needs to be done today?

When I sit down on Monday morning I do a deeper review:

  • take care of still pending TODO items on my bujo. I’ve followed up about a lot of stuff mid Monday mornings :)
  • Review open PRs, closing them if needed
  • Summarize important daily notes in my weekly bujo

Yes, this feels like a GTD weekly review just done Monday morning not Friday afternoon!

When I’m done with the week

I three hole punch it and put it in a binder!

Conclusion

If you like this I hope it helps!

Download the Omnigraffle original if you want!