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Don't Ask for Features When You Still Need a Method

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This is an updated version of a reddit comment of mine. I often see people asking for features of a software or service while they still struggle with how to solve their problem(s) in principle.

In my opinion, they should not looking for features. You should go back at least one step and start by looking for a method or even go back further and realize what your general requirements are.

Let's discuss this on the example of somebody looking for "do-what-I-want" features on task management.

While not trying to impose this is as the one and only method, you could read the Getting Things Done (GTD) book by David Allen. This is a widely known and complex method to organize your life, projects, todos, assets and goals. There are simpler ones as well.

If the GTD method suits your general requirements or your point of view or your level of depth or your comfort zone and you want to try it out with a tool like Org mode, you may now look for technical realization of the different aspects of that method.

The method consists of elements like "in-basket", "calendar", "list of projects" and a couple of others. You may now map "in-basket" to something like desktop and mobile capture and a file named inbox.org. Obviously, you will map "calendar" to the Org feature agenda. However, you need to find out how you agenda should look like to support this specific requirements that you derive from the GTD book. You'll probably need multiple agenda configurations in parallel for mapping that requirements to your current tool of choice.

And so forth.

Therefore: if you're asking for features at that stage of problems, you're not going to find the things you need in the long run. You would stumble from one open question to the next. Of course, you may develop a whole organizing method from scratch. But this is huge effort, others have already invested years of try and error for you instead.

You should now continue reading my article on how to choosing a tool which covers this issue in the most general form.

I'll wait here for you.

Finished?

Good.

Continuing with the example above, you need to follow the process. With your requirements in your mind, you have to ask for the method, then you may choose a tool and discuss the implementation of those methods with various features.

Please notice that two different people using the same method will not have identical mappings to features or at least come up with identical configuration settings. This is where it gets interesting for starting discussions on specific Org features, for example.

Furthermore, people who started with a method are able to adapt this method for finer grained adjustments once they have learned enough by using the standard method "according the book" for a certain time.

This is where they begin to master the discipline.

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