Last time, I said that detailed planning is mostly useless. This time, I’m going to make a detailed plan. Why? Two reasons: 1) I have a very clear and tangible goal – make LinerNotes publicly accessible, and 2) I have a long list of small, discrete tasks that need to happen first. So in this case “planning” isn’t as much about figuring out what to do as it is figuring out when to do it.
Technically, I could launch in one step. I’ve got a fully functional version of the site running on production servers, so all I have to do is change the A-Record on www.linernotes.com to a new I.P. address and you will be able to give it a whirl. But I want to make the best first impression possible, even though the main point of this beta is to test ideas and gather feedback.
Good impressions require polish. Polish is in the details. Keeping track of details means brain-strain. Plans help brain-strain. So let’s save my brain and make a plan.
When I’m in “loose planning” mode (i.e. most of the time when I’m working alone) the plan is a long list of tasks kept in Asana with a rough priority ordering kept in my head. To get more rigorous, I start mapping tasks onto discrete blocks of time. Asana has a lot of virtues, but my biggest frustration is that it doesn’t integrate well with a calendar.
I mostly use the built-in Mac apps (iMail because I have to many email accounts to use the Gmail website; iCal because I just haven’t found a good calendar app). So this planning process is going to consist of making sure I have Asana tasks for everything I want to accomplish and then manually putting those tasks into iCal. (Someone please disrupt this process. Or recommend a better flow.)
Here’s a high-level list of what I need to get done:
Update the data and streamline the pipeline. LinerNotes starts life as about 10GB of .tar.gz files. It takes about 20 hours and too much manual supervision to bloom into final form.
Clean up the CSS. I’m working with a designer on a professional-looking redesign, but that won’t be ready for a few weeks.
Implement basic unit testing. TDD + constantly changing developments = a ton of time writing unused tests. I’ve decided to backload the pain.
Come up with a solid analytics / metrics plan. I’ve got Google Analytics and Datadog, but I want to make sure I learn as much as possible from early users.
A bunch of relationship management stuff (I’m probably not going to write much about individual people, but I may write about writing about individual people.)
Fix many minor bugs
Press the button.
Based on the plan I made while writing this, it looks like Friday will be the day.
Here’s my calendar for the week: