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The "Next" Note

Page created: 2023-08-23

One of the most important habits I’ve developed is keeping a notebook by my desk in which I finish the day’s work with a note like this:

Next: Blorgle the clurpp

When I sit down at the computer the next morning, I know exactly what the clurpp is and why it needs to be blorgled. This saves me untold time flailing around before I finally return to my previous productive state.

Ideally, the "Next" note refers to something that I’ve left unfinished. Even better if I left it in a "cliffhanger" state where I’m about to test some code I just wrote. I want to resume this work.

Another good alternative tactic is to leave myself with a syntax error or some other visible problem. This gives me something specific to work on and brings me right back into the project. (I even intentionally create unignorable fatal errors sometimes for this reason!)

Long-term "Next": If I think I might not come back to the project right away, I leave more elaborate "Next" notes. These can be absolute life-savers for resurrecting projects - even years later!