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Is there a technique or software (referably text-based) for tracking a list of side projects?

Side projects, unlike things that "need to be done" or small pleasures, makes a long and complex list. There is never enough time to work on them, and more than often they wait months (or even years) before "the right time comes". In the meantime, often a list of sub-ideas is gathered, or some research is done.

My main goal is to write down projects, so:

  • I can release some burden of thinking,
  • I won't forget,
  • I will see how it works or if there is a progress,
  • I will be able to share the list (some, all?).

Their initial stage may vary, as well as importance, and the amount of work that need to be done.

I was thinking about using notes in MarkDown and putting them on Git, but this solution does not allows to sort quickly with respect to importance or freshness (and does not allow to filter, with respect to tags).

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Why not use any of the various note taking apps out there (Evernote, Google Keep, ...)? – TKrugg Apr 21 '13 at 21:32
@TKrugg In Evernote I can hardly sort things + track progress (i.e. see at which dated someone was edited, not only created and last edit.), unless I am missing something. I am familiar with Evernote and using for other stuff, i.e. non-related stuff. – Piotr Migdal Apr 21 '13 at 21:36
+1 for good question. – Md. Mahbubur R. Aaman Apr 25 '13 at 9:51

edit: Seems like I did not read you comment about how you wanted to see edits to your notes (in this case Evernote is no good). I think for this purpose markdown + Git is a good idea, however you might want to have a script which e.g. runs every day and makes a commit to your repository automatically (example how someone did a similar thing). IMO making the commits manually will be something that will forget to do from time to time, thus sabotaging your whole idea.

You can still use one of the tools I recommend in this post to make the actual edit. Actually this proves even more how using markdown or plain text is superior to other solutions.

originial post:
I ditched Evernote for another solution because I felt it was bloated (slow) and I did not like the idea to live without a plain text version of all my notes on my drive.

I use nvAlt to manage my system of notes: Every note is a plain text/markdown file, the directory is synced via dropbox and also via simplenote (for use with FlickNote on Android).

NvAlt has an option to sort for "last edited" which I use and also a quick full text search. It also supports tags. Tags can be searched with an external tool, I rarely ever use them but instead go for keywords. This way I hold my grocery list in the same system with the personal log of a road trip: One I find by searching for "grocery", another by searching for "log munich". The downside is that nvAlt notes cannot contain external files like images and don't have fancy features like geolocating your notes like Evernote does (on OSX).

If you don't work on OSX, take a look at nvpy (linux) or ResophNotes (I did not test them, but they are said to work similar).

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Given I am a proponent of the GTD (Getting Things Done) system, my advice would be to treat them as either standard projects, or in the GTD bucket of Someday/Maybe, and just integrate them into your normal workflow.

If they are a standard project, you will review them during your weekly once-over, and generate any new active tasks to go into your various other context buckets.

Even the Someday/Maybe file should be reviewed on a regular basis to see if there is anything more actionble in there, whose time has come.

In either case, you have them tracked and out of your head, and also therefore have a place to append any random thoughts you have that should be attached to those slowly simmering items.

Good Luck

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I have no problem with setting the right priority (i.e. they are always "someday/maybe" unless I explicitly take them). – Piotr Migdal Apr 22 '13 at 14:31
Maybe you are lacking a sense of direction that would help you get the drive to take on a specific project to make progress towards your goals? Have a look at the 7 habits, it is a good read and you will learn how to get closer to your values / goals. – Aymeric Gaurat-Apelli Apr 25 '13 at 22:51

My option for this would be using Trello, and I actually follow your same scenario. This is how it works better for me:

  1. I have a single board for work related tasks. This is my main project/s, what is related in my day-to-day tasks. If you can read Spanish, I wrote about my specific workflow in this board and how to keep track of several simultaneous tasks. ("Cómo uso Trello para trabajar" - How I use Trello for Work.*)
  2. Each side project becomes its own board. In my own way of time management, I have projects that have timelines or projects on which I work only when I feel like it. Trello allows for both, since I can set deadlines for tasks, and create a specific workflow in each of the boards, adjusted on how I want to work in that project.
  3. Trello has iPhone / iPad / Android apps that allow you to save stuff on the go (assuming internet). For desktop it's all web so nothing to install right there.
  4. Trello allows for as fuzzy short descriptions or length Markdown descriptions for tasks. It's up to you. You can even plan your tasks with checklists inside and later on track each of those as a separate card/task.
  5. Trello is free and you may even create organizations or just add people to your boards to collaborate.

Disclaimer: I am not part of the Trello team although I does seems that I'm doing an advertising here. I'm just a regular guy to which Trello has been a gamechanger in terms of getting their stuff together.

*Sidenote: I've been procrastinating the translation of this to English. If it proves useful to you let me know and I'll make an effort to have this translated soon. Anyway, the images are enough to have a rough idea.

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Heard about Trello, tried it a bit... (but maybe I need to give it another try). Anyway, thank you a lot for your procrastination (I'm learning Spanish, and I am (sadly) lazy with learning human languages; but if there is no translation, I will need to read it in Spanish :)). – Piotr Migdal Apr 26 '13 at 19:59
"Each side project becomes its own board", thanks for mentioning this, that is IMHO the key piece in your system! I'll think about it, no idea why I had some "Angst" about creating more boards yet. – grunwald2.0 Apr 27 '13 at 21:34

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