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I've been doing this kind of thing for years, to the point of managing highly complex multi-million dollar multidisciplinary projects very successfully with basic text files.

When you get right down to it, it's the embodiment of a Kanban system in a text file. Because I have so much to manage every single project has its own text file in the relevant directory. In other words, I don't have one text file to rule them all. This makes sense because of the multidisciplinary nature of our work. I could be running Solidworks doing mechanical and optical design one day, coding FPGA's the following week, embedded software next and running Altium for electronics design at the same time. Each major discipline gets its own text file. I call them "Project Log - <relevant designator goes here>".

This is what they would look like for a hypothetical home sprinkler controller:

    Project Log - Sprinkler Controller
     --------------------------------------------------- WORKING ON NOW
     - Chase down VC for that $25MM check
    
    --------------------------------------------------- TO DO
     - Decide on form factor
     - Decide on votage (12 or 24?)
     - Measure current of typical sprinkler valve
     - Draw basic block diagram
     - Conformal coating?
     - Start mechnical design
      - Injection mold of CNC machine enclosure?
      - Off the shelf enclosure a possibility?
     - Start electrical design
      - What type of connectors do we use?
      - Does it have to be IP-something rated?
    
    --------------------------------------------------- IDEAS
     - Nuclear powered?
      - Maybe solar power is better
     - Transparent case to see blinking LED's inside?
     - How about just buying one from Home Depot?
    
    --------------------------------------------------- CONTACTS
     - Talk to applications engineer at Arrow: <name>@arrow.com
     - Talk to Intel about using new 20+ core processor: <name>@intel.com
    
    --------------------------------------------------- RESEARCH
     - Article on the advantages of 32 core 64 bit processors for sprinkler systems
       http://example.com/32-core-processors-for-sprinkler-controllers
    
    --------------------------------------------------- DONE
     - Decide how many output channels we need
     - Decide on maximum BOM cost
     - Talk to VC's about raising $25MM for the 32 core 64 bit processor sprinkler controllers
       - We have one VC very interested in this!
    
Over the years this approach has proven to be highly effective in managing anything from small to very large and highly complex projects. I mostly use OneNote for research and note taking and, if team collaboration is required, a multi-user Kanban board where I distill relevant cards from my text files for the appropriate team/board.

Another nice thing about text-based Kanban is that it can travel with version control.




Thank you for the visualization! Your category line delimiters make so much sense. For years I've used folding headers in org or vimwiki but named by content vs project status or supporting sections. Toggling line item statuses is less visually clear than your line movement across the kanban cards. So excellent!


Sometimes simple works just fine...




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