Balancing Todos and Tickets

A reader asked me:

What’s your opinion on merging “to-do” lists with issue trackers in The Cycle? I have a pile of To Do items which aren’t properly “issues”, and a pile of issues. I don’t want to duplicate tickets in the to-do list, but I’d like to look at one place to figure out what to work on next.

You are correct in that copying items from your ticket system to your to-do list leads to trouble. They aren’t synced and bad things happen. I have a n-hour to-do item each day called “work on tickets” (where “n” is 1 to 8 hours depending on the requirements of my job). During that time I focus on tickets, using the ticket system’s ability to sort and prioritize the requests. Some tickets require follow-up that is appropriate to track using your to-do list. For example if work related to the ticket involves calling someone on a certain date, putting that on the to-do list for that date assures perfect follow-through.

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I went further, and made my ticket system understand a state called "frozen", with a "freeze-until date". Make a phone call, have to leave voice mail? Set the freeze-until date to a decent interval in the future (which varies), and the ticket vanishes from the list of things you can actually work on right now. Same for "order part, wait for package to arrive, but don't wait forever." If you are completely honest with the ticket system -- and it has the necessary sophistication -- the answer to "what shall I do now?" is always the thing at the top of the list. At least during the blocks you set aside for working on tickets. If you ever skip over that one for any reason, ask yourself why.

Jim,

I agree. Having the ability to put a ticket on "pause" lets us more accurately model our workflow.

Thanks!

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