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Evelyn and I have been speaking about project management mechanisms. There are so many of those, so why not have another one? Many of the project management mechanisms are geared towards software development, where tasks are around 10 times larger than what we normally deal with. Usually the items are unrelated, so you can't rely on the natural ordering of tasks (I can't do this until I do this). So, it's a very real worry that a task stagnates on a task list because other tasks are selected instead of it.

Another contributing factor to this is that I often will select more tasks for my daily task list than I can reasonably do in a day. Even days where I'm not so optimistic, urgent items that come in during that day can contribute to stagnating tasks.

After thinking about this problem, I came up with the idea that it would be nice if tasks grew in size as they sat on my list. In other words, the tasks started coming towards me, becoming bigger and bigger in my vision, to use a physical metaphor. Perhaps displacing other tasks until I just can't ignore it. So an hour long task that's sat on my list for a while could start looking like a 2 or 4 hour task…

This reminded me of the South Park episode where they go hunting. Any animals are in season, as long as you yell “It's Comin' Right At Me”! So, I started calling it ICRAM.

I've been using a quite simple project management mechanism. Basically it's just a text file that I edit every day, in three sections. There's a section of upcoming tasks, things I'm not dealing with today. This section sometimes has things listed on a day or time when they should happen. Then there's a section for things I want to do today. Finally, there's a section for the things I've done today.

The simplicity of this mechanism is one of it's strengths. We have some helpers I've added to vim and a small wrapper program for mailing out the report of what I did, and helping to generate the list for what I'm going to work on in the next day. It's almost exactly what you'd get if you just edited a text file though.

To implement ICRAM, I'd have to manually decide that a task is starting to stagnate, and start increasing it's size. I use a special marker for how long I estimate the task will take, so I could just double it. I also use this tag to schedule my day, trying to make my estimated tasks come out to 8-ish hours.

This could apply to pretty much any task management system though. A swim-lane approach could increase the size of the task box as it ages on the list or at the starting gate, for example.

I'm going to start trying this out to see how it works out in the real world. The more I think about the idea though, the more I like it.

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