In "How to manage long breaks in your software side projects" [Signal vs. Noise], 37signals Ryan Singer shows how he uses Backpack to manage an on-again, off-again side-project he manages.
I make a single Backpack page for each project with two lists and some notes. The two lists are ‘To-Do’ and ‘Debt.’
The ‘To-Do’ list is for things I really, truly, honestly plan to do next. I keep it very short, always less than five items. If it gets any longer, I’m probably fantasizing instead of actually planning to do those things. Whenever I return to a project, the top item on the To-Do list tells me what I should work on.
The ‘Debt’ list is for things I should have done but didn’t bother to do. The Debt list is partly a psychological trick. It helps me cut corners without feeling too guilty. Should’ve added validations to that model? Add it to the Debt list. Wrote a condition without thinking too deeply about the edge cases? Just add it to the Debt list. But it’s also more than a band-aid for laziness. If something breaks or I run into some unexpected behavior, chances are a quick glance at the Debt list will point me to a corner that I cut or a step I skipped and lead to a direct solution instead of an hour of head-scratching.
Lastly my Backpack account is SSL protected, so I feel safe storing information about my production environment. I can never remember where a project is hosted, what the username and password are or if there are particularities with the configuration I should know about. I keep all this server info on a note at the top of the page, so each time I need to log in I don’t have to go digging for passwords or welcome emails from my host...
For the Backpack lists, try to be brutally honest. A mile long To-Do list is proof of time wasted, not time saved. Focus your To-Do list on the next few things you need done, and limit your Debt list to Debt that actually matters.