Sunday, December 11, 2011

RTM Charts–YAY!

So I am a pretty heavy user of  Remember the Milk. By heavy user, in 2010 I completed 3,095 tasks.


As I have converted a weakness (forgetting those little things I commit to) to a strength (thanks to RTM) by remembering everything; I have found myself with a new problem. If you remember all the little things – you won’t have enough time in the day (or money to pay someone else) to do all those little things… Oh No!!

So I have had to become a master at prioritizing (having a 4 month old at home forced me to become a master very quickly).

This prioritization brought me to a new problem – if its not a priority today – then where do I put it? I used to “postpone” it for some arbitrary amount of time (2 days or a couple weeks). This naturally led to a high maintenance problem of re-postponing tasks over – and over again! One solution was to remove the due date on tasks that don’t need to happen. I know that ones going to come back to bite me as that list (those without dates) just keeps getting bigger. But for my immediate sanity – that is helping a lot!

But some tasks are a near term priority (this month) and should not slip into the black hole of “no due date.” So I can push it to a day that I think should be free – but as I keep pushing tasks to that day – it soon is not so free.

So I finally bit the bullet and built a visualization to help me solve this problem.


This shows me how many hours I have committed to each days, 7 days out. Using this I can push things to the right day, spread the load 7 days in advance as days come into focus, and breathe a sigh of relief as I am actually completing what I set out to do, instead of drowning in task inundation!!

So how did I do it?

I leveraged a REST service RTM has exposed and a C# API to access the REST Service available here. Note there is a bit of a learning curve and trial and error figuring out RTM’s authentication model that I am not commenting on right now.

I then created my own REST service that returns JSON using WCF.

Lastly, I wrote some javascript using google charts api to actually draw the visualization. Thanks to google, it is (slightly) interactive; I can hover over the bars and get the exact measurements.


Now back to getting those 7.5 hours worth of stuff done!

I built this for use by me but if there is demand, I could build this to be more user based so that you could log in and see the dashboard for you. So if that is something people want – let me know.


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