Last Updated: December 26, 2018
· szymonkor

"Don't break the chain" & Trello (1/2)

This article is different than the previous. It covers one of my hobbies, seemingly unrelated to programming: time management.


I am control freak. I love to coordinate and plan all stuff. Trying to be over-achieving, efficient beast requires a lot of research in time tracking tools and techniques.

I enjoyed Getting Things Done as a simple set of principles to adhere to, but its practical implementation turned out to be quite complicated. Also, it occurred to me very quickly, that I cannot deal with very different tasks in the same manner. I divided tasks in my life into few categories:

  • recurring, small tasks (Duolingo, flashcards, coderwall posts)
  • habits (principles, eg: don't scroll facebook in perpetuity)
  • big projects and their subtasks

When it comes to big projects, Kanban boards are perfect solutions. Among many kanbans out there I singled out Trello, as the most popular, customizable and easy to use. My kanban board's lists are: Backlog, This month, This week, Today, Work In Progress, Done, Delegated. I keep more Trello boards to store my ideas and plans (according to GTD).

Recurring tasks

However, measuring recurring tasks' streaks and habits was not the main goal for kanban boards. I came up with the simple solution. I use http://IFTTT.com to auto-create cards in "Today" list. It is not the perfect solution, because I cannot measure progresses I make. I could have done it, if I had used Seinfelds' famous "Don't Break The Chain" methodology.

As writersstore.com describes it:
Seinfeld explained his method for success: each January, he hangs a large year-at-a-glance calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new material, he had the exquisite pleasure that can only come from drawing a big red "X" over that day.
Drawing those Xs got to be pretty fun and rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs.
The idea was to never break that chain.

Trello vs Don't Break The Chain

Each Done card had to be an "X" in it's own calendar. How do we do that?

  1. Set up IFTTT for that. Trigger: card appears on Done list, action: add the post to Wordpress blog
  2. Design simple wordpress theme that displays posts with given params as an "X" in a streak. In part two of the article, I am going to show you, how to create React component downloading data from WP API / Google Spreadsheet.
  3. Enjoy your calendar!

I attached the sample preview of my streak. In part two of the article, I will describe how to create React-based solution for getting recurring tasks done. I think there is still great market for Trello integrations and only a handful of apps that measure your progress!

So, stay tuned for part II, the technical one.