John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

2D to-do

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (14th October 1066), so English Heritage arranged a reenactment down at Battle. This sounded interesting, so I decided to take a trip down there.

There's a BCQ checkpoint at Battle, so I initially thought that this would be a good opportunity to "collect" that by cycling down. English Heritage specifically mention bicycle access, which bodes well. However, when I phoned them they said that they don't have any bike racks at their site (there might be some in the nearby town) and you're not allowed to take bikes past the main entrance. People do often leave bikes leaning against the wall by the security lodge, but that's "at your own risk". So, I abandoned that plan; I will cycle there eventually, but it will just be a brief stop.

Plan B was to take the train, then walk from the station (about half a mile). However, I couldn't do that yesterday because I had to deal with the upstairs neighbours (their building work had caused some damage to my flat). That wasn't a major problem, because the event was scheduled to run both days this weekend. Unfortunately, it's cancelled today due to bad weather. Oh well, maybe next year.

Since I'm home today, I'm trying to use the time productively. I have a "to do" lists, but it's just grouped into short/medium/long-term goals, and the items within each section aren't in any particular order. More importantly, lots of tasks need to be done in a particular sequence, so I sometimes wind up chasing my tail by working my way mentally along the "dependency chain" until I give up. Aside from anything else, it's a waste of time to keep repeating the same exercise, so I want a better way to plan this.

The Civilization games have a tech tree. Some of the links are a bit odd (why does polytheism allow you to use elephants?), but the basic principle is sound. There are 2 advantages to this:
1) If you want to get a particular technology (e.g. the compass) then you can see what you need to do first.
2) Each time you finish researching something, the game asks you what you want to do next, and filters the list so that you only look at the things you can research. Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains is at least easier to choose between.

I have a copy of Microsoft Visio (via the Home Use Program), so that was the obvious choice for a diagram like this. However, if you're not familiar with the product then it's a bit imposing to get a list of Template Categories, and I wasn't sure where to start. After some research, I think the best option is a PERT Chart (in the Schedule category). I'm trying to keep this simple, so I just used "Summarization Structures" rather than full PERT objects; I'm just tracking the name of each task for now, rather than the estimated time etc. Microsoft suggest arranging this in a vertical tree, but I've done it horizontally instead. I think that's partly based on the Civ example, and partly because I'm used to the idea of time as the x-axis in charts.

I've done a few of these diagrams so far, e.g. for household tasks and my queue of upcoming blog posts. (I try to establish some kind of narrative flow with related topics, rather than saying "I'll elaborate on this in a future post", although I don't always succeed with that.) Here's part of the diagram for vocational exams:


Some of those are enforced, e.g. the CCNA is a pre-requisite for the CCNP. Others just seem sensible to me, e.g. doing CompTIA exams before Cisco (assuming that they'll be easier).

Anyway, I'll see how well this works out, but I'm optimistic.
Tags: cycling, exams, games, to do

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