“issue tracker”, a github project for personal productivity

Every once in a long while I try to organize my life. Usually the effort is temporary, with one system working really well as I download all of my tasks out of my inbox and into it, and then slowly languishing until it fails for some mysterious reason to actually get me to do things more efficiently.

You only need to look at my productivity category here to marvel at how ideas come and go.

The latest approach to this, with a test time of all of three days before I write about how wonderful it is, is to use github as an issue tracker. Now it helps that I'm also using github as an issue tracker for a couple of other projects, so it's not a big learning curve, and the more familiar I get with the tool the better off I suspect I'll be.

Issues in github look more or less like items in a conferencing system that has single threaded conversations. The title of the issue is the most searchable part of it, so it pays to have good titles. Each issue can refer to other issues by number (e.g. #4) so you don't have to worry that renaming an issue forces you to update links. Issues can be in exactly one milestone, and milestones have due dates which you are reminded about. Issues also have one or more categories and the categories are color coded.

I'm approaching this along the lines that the traditional "inbox zero" or "get things done" approach wants to have it work – your inboxes, all of them, stay as empty as they can all of the time, and the big long issue tracker list is the semi-infinite comprehensive list of everything there is to do. You work your way through that list using some subset of it to prompt activity, and you tick off tasks as completed when they're eventually done. Anything that comes into an empty inbox gets dispatched promptly so that the inbox stays empty, but you don't and can't do everything on your todo list at once.

So far so good? The cost is non-zero, which means that if I decide to give up on this I have the motivating force of a few dollars a month to either prod me into action or use as a budget for some other tool. At worst I get better at using github for a while.


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