I am a software engineer, and some items are always roaming in my brain about the work I am doing like

  1. send an email for this user story
  2. I may not have correctly understood this requirement
  3. I would have done that; differently; I will make this change tomorrow.
  4. I have to complete this by tomorrow.

Hence, I am not even getting the sleep and cannot adequately prepare for my future.

Is it common for everyone who is working on busy projects? How do we avoid those? Do I need to maintain some scheduler?

3 Answers 3


The answer is very simple: don't keep them in your mind.

People can remember about 7 different pieces of information at a time, so when you try to remember more things or for a longer period of time, you usually have to revisit them mentally just so you make sure that you haven't forgotten some. And this takes a mental toll, makes you tired, and distracted.

In my day time job I help and support a few development teams, which requires me to be involved in many topics at the same time and switch between them fast. What you described happens to me also. I need to clarify something, I need to send an email, I need to reply to an email, I need to setup a meeting, I need to test this feature, I need to check the database records for that other feature, while I deal with one thing, something else comes up, etc.

How do I keep track of these things?

Write to disk!

I keep a backlog of things I need to do. It's just a text file where I drop things I don't want floating in my mind.

For example, while I'm verifying some database records I may remember to send an email regarding some other topic. If I try to keep that in mind and also focus on what I'm doing, it adds strain. Do that with a few more things and it becomes very tiring. So when I remember something, I add it to my backlog in the file and forget about it while focusing on what I'm doing right now.

Then, when I'm done and I get a breather to start something else, I just go to the file and pick the next topic I think it's important. Once done, I delete it from the file. Each morning I try to plan my day by organizing the items in the file and putting first the things I want to work on for that day.

This way, I don't need to remember many things because they are written down.

Then rinse and repeat.

Place the file on OneDrive, Google docs, or some place else online with easy access and backup, and you don't even have to worry about the file itself.


I've had some success using Dave Allen's "Getting Things Done" methodology with an app on my smartphone. My discipline is clearly lacking, but the methodology and the tool help a lot.

You can implement GTD pretty low-tech using paper and folders (that's how Dave Allen describes it in his book, if I remember correctly) which might help some people to separate the goal-oriented notes from the electronic chit-chat that is easily forgotten and overlooked. The book is definitely worth reading.


There's tools for that. Any issue tracker can help with that. I'm forced to answer this as I see a lot of rant against such tools (specially from engineering community) which I believe to be simply a lack of understanding on how such tools could work for you (and not the other way around).

Assuming you start using a free task tracking tool tomorrow such as Trello or Jira...

send an email for this user story

Write the comment down in the user story itself. Mention the person / group you'd like to ask to have them notified about it.

I may not have correctly understood this requirement

Ditto. Notify about the person who could clarify the question on the story itself, mentioning the unclear points.

I would have done that; differently; I will make this change tomorrow.

Leave a note for you on the card itself. It's not only helpful for you but for your peers (if any).

I have to complete this by tomorrow.

Some tools offer ways to handle due dates. Explore the one that fits your needs the best.

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