Developer Productivity Tip: The Personal Standup

This is one of my favorite productivity practices, and one I’ve found to help me maintain a high level of productivity. Every morning, prior to my team’s standup, I had my own personal standup for 10-15 minutes. The time was blocked off in my calendar as a standing appointment so no one could schedule over my time.

I’d use this time to reflect on the previous day and plan the current day, and go into team standup with a complete update and plan. This is a technique I picked up from my dad, who used a DayTimer well into retirement. I kept a daily diary of ideas and what I worked on, usually using a pocket-sized Moleskine Classic. My personal preference is plain paper, but whatever fits your style is perfect. Later on I started using an Emergent Task Planner every day. Whatever you use, it shouldn’t be a clumsy burden–it should fit your workflow and style. You should actually want to plan and record (get a good pen, too). This is something I continue to do today.

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Every morning I looked back at the tasks which needed continued, what I had completed, any blocks, and set up a plan for the day. From then it was smooth sailing through the day. Most of the time.

Using ScrewTurn Wiki as a Portable Wiki

Wikis are an all-too-often misued application, but they do have their
places.  One place I think wikis work well is as personal note/organization
apps.  Hanselman likes Tiddlywiki, but I found it to be very
heavy in JavaScript, and I didn’t like the way it flows or organizes

I recently discovered Screwturn
.  Screwturn is an open-source .NET based wiki with a nice
feature set and a very simple design.  It’s a simple design, stores data in
XML files, and the interface is more intuitive to me.  There are some
advanced administration tools, and you can even make the wiki private.

Several distros are available, including one (the Desktop Edition) which
includes a customized Cassini server.  You can install this edition on
systems without IIS installed (I didn’t test this on a system without .NET 2.0
installed, since all of my systems have it).  Because it contains its own
server, and OOTB data are stored in XML files, you can simply copy the
application to a thumb drive, and use it as a portable app.

The application installs in c:\program files\ScrewTurn Wiki Desktop Edition;
simply copy the ScrewTurn folder to your thumb drive, and uninstall it from your
parent system.  You can then start the spp from the thumb drive, update the
physical path in the startup dialog, and you’re off to the races.  Your
data will travel with you wherever you take your drive.  One hint–assign
the same drive letter to your thumb drive on all your systems.  You can see
more about the operation at

The admin pages provide a full spectrum of file, page and user management
tools.  Providers can be added for storage in SQL Server, and the default
layout can be tweaked via the admin tools.  Individual pages can be made
private, locked from editing, or rolled back to previous versions.

The simplicity of the design (and lack of unnecessary JavaScript effects) has
an additional bonus–with some tweaking to the skin, this wiki would work from a
Treo 700w.  I can post to it, but the interface is smashed up on the small
screen, so some tweaks would smooth that out.