Getting Organized as a Solopreneur

In the following, I present to you my daily way of working, with which I, on the one hand, achieve my projects and on the other hand do not lose sight of my daily tasks.


When you work as an employee in a company, it is usually the case that your tasks are clearly defined. Usually, there is a project management software from which it is clear what needs to be done next.

If you are a freelancer, solopreneur, or part-time, the situation is usually different.

When I started out on my own with my affiliate websites, I didn’t have a system that I couldn’t follow. I had currently opted for a simple Kanban board for entering my tasks.

After a short time, I was struggling to find a balance between new features that needed to be implemented and regularly recurring tasks.

My background as a product owner on a Scrum team was of limited help. While I was clear on how to prioritize and work through tasks, I was overwhelmed with classifying recurring tasks and working on them regularly.

So I started looking for a planning system that would help me. I interviewed friends and studied several organizational systems and created my own planning system.

My planning system should help me with the following requirements:

  • Important features and tasks should be highly prioritized and implemented in as timely a manner as possible.
  • Recurring tasks that need to be implemented regularly should not clutter up my backlog, nor did I want them in my head.
  • In addition, I wanted my notoriously cluttered inbox to go away. (In the past, I liked to use my inbox as a filing system for tasks to be done later).


Based on my experience and research, I developed the following system. Essentially, it is a love child of Getting Things Done, Scrum, and Kanban.

The core of the system is a task board, as in most agile project management systems.

Currently, it is divided into four columns: Backlog, Todo, Doing, Done. The taskboard is deliberately kept simple. People who frequently delegate tasks or depend on others for completion should still consider an On-Hold or Delegated column.

However, the taskboard does not yet help me with recurring tasks. These have to be entered over and over again. If you work in sprints, as soon as you have completed a recurring task, you could always re-populate it into the backlog. However, I find this extremely cumbersome and it doesn’t really correspond to a backlog. After all, I want to work through my backlog and not let it grow automatically.

That’s why I decided to create a separate list of recurring tasks in addition to the task board. The tasks in this list are characterized by the fact that they are recurring and limited in scope. Typical entries are “Read emails” or “Check Google Analytics”. Basically, no recurring task is too small not to end up on this list. The main thing is that the things are out of your head and don’t occupy any capacity in your brain.

I still use a calendar to manage my appointments.

My work desktop looks like this

CURRENT Procedure

My daily routine is structured as follows:

First, I check my appointments and then read emails and other messages that have been sent to me. If new tasks arise from these, they are added to the backlog.

Next, I get an overview of my task board and the recurring tasks that may have popped up. From here, I can then start completing all the tasks.

I usually start with the tasks that need to be repeated, as these are done quickly and I then have time for the taskboard.

I revise my backlog at least once a week. In doing so, I re-sort the features if necessary and make sure they are described in such a way that I know exactly what to do during implementation. In Scrum, this would be called a backlog refinement, in GTD it’s the reflecting step.

Every 14 days I do a retrospective where I review the past 2 weeks, decide which ways of working worked well and which I want to change to move forward more effectively.

I don’t do real sprints with fixed Scrum events, because they are not compatible with my current life and I am naturally a bit more flexible on my own than a team of 5 to 10 people.


In the following, I would like to introduce you to the tools that I currently use and that suit me well.

As a to-do list with repeating tasks, I use Google Tasks. Since Google Tasks can’t actually be displayed on its own in a browser, I wrote myself a little workaround: Google Tasks in the browser. Just use this link if you want to use Google Tasks independently from Gmail or Calendar.

As a board solution, I use a self-programmed tool: Metado. The crucial advantage for me: Metado shows Google Tasks and GitHub-issues of selected projects. So I can see different projects side by side without having to transfer them manually or maintain multiple tools at the same time.

For the calendar, I use Google Calendar because I like working in the Google ecosystem.

Of course, if you feel comfortable with other tools that are better suited for your purposes, you can use those.

Now it’s time for me to let you have your say. How do you structure your work? Do you have any tips for the rest of us? Do share your insights in the comments.

Akiee 0.0.3 released

Release 0.0.3 is a big step for Akiee. I am switching Akiee from plain Javascript to Clojurescript with Reagent, which is a wrapper around Facebook's React. Furthermore, Akiee's UI has been improved to better fit into the respective operating systems.

On the functional side it is now possible to add or edit data of a task. Like planned date, due date, repeat, tags, etc.

The user storys for Akiee 0.0.3 were:

  • Merge rakiee repository with akiee
  • When I look over my tasks, I want to set/change an attribute so that I can change it to my needs.
  • improvement: Mac: Alias Ctrl shortcuts to Cmd
  • fix: Mac: Rename "node-webkit" in the menubar to Akiee
  • As A User I want to see the details of a task when I click on it, that I can see notes I did to finish it.
  • As a user, I want better integration, that the app feels more native to me.
  • As a developer, I want to explore the options of using Clojurescript for Akiee, that I can leverage Lisp for competitive advantage

To grab a copy of Akiee, choose on of the following downloads. I am very interested in your feedback.

Next features

What is planned for Akiee 0.0.4?

  • As a (kanban) user I want to have the DONE state ordered by time in reverse, that I can see what I finished last.
  • When I make a mistake, I want to go back to the last state, so that I can start over.
  • As a User I want to order my task via Drag & Drop, that I can order my task more efficient.
  • When the markdown file of my tasks get too big, I want to export tasks that I done, so that I only have tasks in the file that are still relevant to me.
  • As a User I want to synchronize my tasks via Dropbox and similar services, that I can add tasks from every computer I have access to.
  • As a user I want to keep notes (not tasks), that I want to keep for future reference, that I can remember important information. 

Financing Open-Source-Projects via the Ubuntu Software-Center

Financing Open-Source-Projects via the Ubuntu Software-Center

Since a few month it's relatively easy to offer commercial software through the Ubuntu Software-Center. Why shouldn't this be used to finance open-source projects like the Gimp, Ardour or Openshot and support their development efforts.

Let's Take Brian Lunduke's favorite example: The Gimp. Before I want to make an fundamental assumption: It doesn't conflict with the open-source/free software idea, to sell software, if you publish the source code at the same time.

How could this look like?

For Gimp there are certain plugins, which are not available via the standard package sources and which maintenance is bugging the typical (web-) designer.

Why not offer certain plugin packs in the Ubuntu Software-Center for a fair price? For example, I could imagine a plugin pack, that makes a preselection of special plugins for photo post-production – with features that are not available in Shotwell.

This could be an opportunity for the Gimp team; who's got more competence about Gimp than the Gimp team itself. What's true for Gimp is also true for a lot of other applications like OpenShot, Ardour, Open-Office, etc.

Where is the customer value?

Most OSS users are bugged or simply overstrained by the installation of plugins, PPAs or the compiling of source code – regardless they like to use the best plugins and the newest software. It would be arrogant to say: users should develop theses skills or wait for 6 – 24 month until the next version of Ubuntu comes out.

The concept of providing updates via the Software-Center is especially interesting for LTS-versions of Ubuntu. Users and programmers get totally new possibilities bypassing missing updates by Canonical.

Why it is important to have a vibrant commercial Ecosystem around open source software

Many times open source projects, most often small ones, have to fight obstacles like new hardware or server costs – not to mention compensation of the team members. In addition, most open-source projects are developed by solo developers and are lacking manpower to have faster development cycles.

If you are now interested in developing business ideas around open source software, check the two articles:

How do you think about it? Should open source projects try to raise money with the Software-Center?

Business Model Canvas For Letter and A4

The Business Model Canvas is a great tool to draft different business models for your business idea. It is an accompanying download to the Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers book by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. The only drawback is, that it's poster sized and not usable as a print out for your notebook.

For a more convenient use of the Business Model Canvas I made two smaller versions of the Business Model Canvas:

  • one you can use as cheat sheet, that has the original comments with a more readable font (Droid Sans and Serif)
  • one without comments, that you can use to draft you business models

Business Model Canvas Cheat Sheet

Business Model Canvas Cheat Sheet

Business Model Canvas Working Paper

Business Model Canvas Working Paper

Find More Business Ideas

If you like the Business Model Canvas you will probably like the 7 Sources Of Innovations Sheet. It helps you to find better ideas your business models.

The 7 And A Half Sources Of Innovation

Find Innovative Ideas with the 7 Source of Innovations

The 7 Sources of Innovation help you to look systematically for innovative Ideas. It doesn't matter if you

  • want to start a new open source project
  • are searching for interesting topic for your next thesis
  • are looking for innovative business idea or
  • you want to put up an effective social project.

It neither doesn't matter, if you are looking for technical or social innovation. The point rather is to find out about demand, feasibility and timing of an innovation.

Ideas are not found by accident

To find new ideas you are normally advised to do some creativity techniques like Brainstorming or you are told to build a product for yourself. Ironically there is many advice to test you idea or business model – finding the idea in the first place is something accidental.

This approach is not systematic. It is not useful to find promising ideas for startups, open source or social projects. It is just based on the principle: Try to generate as much ideas as you can, maybe someday there will be a useful one.

The result: There are lots people out there, that say: Ideas are worthless! The only thing that counts is execution.

Good Ideas are not worthless

I would like to contradict this claim: No, good ideas are not worthless!

We need good ideas. And to find good ideas you need to know where to look.

The inventor of management, Peter Drucker, detected 7 sources of innovation:

  1. The Unexpected
  2. Incongruities
  3. Process-Need
  4. Change Of Market Or Industry
  5. Demographics
  6. Change In Perception
  7. Knowledge-Based Innovation
  8. The Bright Idea – counts only as a half source of innovation

Drucker chose the order of the sources not randomly:

  1. The risk of the sources increases.
  2. Innovation opportunities that lie in the sources 1 – 4 are easier discovered by insiders of an industry, opportunities that lie in the sources 5 – 7 easier by outsiders.

The next articles in this series will show: the different sources of innovation are not strictly separated, but overlap one another sometimes.

As a start I summarized the 7 Sources Of Innovation + the bright idea on a sheet for you to download. This way you get an overview of the 7 source of innovation. I will present the source in detail in upcoming articles.

Finally I'm curious: How do you guys find new Ideas? Where are you looking for opportunities to innovate?

7 And A Half Sources Of Innovation

CC-share alike licenced. Feel free to download, if you want to share: please link back to this post.

Positioning Linux In The Desktop Market (or Why Hendrix would have used Linux)

Hendrix painting by furibond
Would he have used Linux? by furibond

At the moment some people are telling us Linux would have finally lost the battle for the desktop. For justification they claim Windows 7 is overtaking the netbook market. In this essay I will argue, Linux has not lost the desktop market and it should not position itself in the low-end PC market but in the high-end.

Linux can not lose the desktop market.

As I said before, Linux can not be beaten in the market as long there are curious programmers all over the world contributing to Free Software. For the success of Free Software it is not important how many people are using it. It is important how many people are contributing to Free Software. This argument stays true for big projects, like Gnome and KDE, and for all the small projects, like Scribes, Impressive, Gnome-Do, etc., that make Open Source Software so exciting.

Linux is build as a high-end system

Linus Torvalds created Linux because there were no suitable Unix-like operating systems that he could afford. That's why he build an operating system he would find "beautiful". In conclusion it is fair to say that Linux was build as a high-end operating system. The coincidence that Linux is running on such a variety of devices is just a sign of its class and the advantage of the OSS development model.

Linux competes with OS X

Fender Stratocaster by daves_place
Fender Stratocaster by daves_place

Linux is created to be an Unix and not a DOS. If you compare operating systems to electric guitars Linux is a Fender Stratocaster. It is hard to learn but very rewarding. Windows in contrast is a Guitar Hero game controller. It is nice in the beginning but the possibilities are very limited and it hampers your creativity. Personally I think the real competitor to Linux is OS X. OS X would be a Gibson Les Paul. Very good lookin', a bit easier to play, but very expensive and not as versatile as a Strat. Like the guitars from Fender and Gibson, both operating systems have some things in common, but differ in certain aspect, especially in philosophy. The biggest similarity of the both operating systems is that they are both Unixes.

Some philosophical differences between Linux and OS X

open source vs. closed source: If you want, you can use the sources of Linux as you wish. Learn from, change it or rip it apart an build something totally new out of it. In the sense of Google's informal corporate motto "Don't be evil!" Apple is the devil. If you mess with Apple's software you could end up having a lot of fun with their lawyers. total freedem vs. a bit more guidence: Linux lets you digg very deep into the operating system. They user, if he is admin too, has total control over the system. By Design you can totally rebuild your system. OS X doesn't give you as much freedom, on the other hand you are not as likely to screw something up with your system.

The future of Linux is very bright.

A well fed penguin

Besides that Linux has a very robust business model and as such is here to stay on the desktop, I think Linux should be sold with high-end desktop PCs and laptop and should not be used on low cost hardware. It excels with high-end hardware, especially when used by talented people. Linux is a product for power users who want to use their computers to boost their creativity and create new exciting things. As Alan Key said:

The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas.

Now it's your turn. What is your opinion on that? By the way Hendrix mostly played the Stratocaster.

How To Learn Programming And Which Programming Language To Choose?

This is a little Python program I wrote. It lets you set the 12 Metacity (the gnome window manager) hotkeys for any application you like. Set any command you like in the left entry field of a row and the corresponding hotkey in the right entryfield. The format for the hotkeys looks like "<Control>a" or "<Shift><Alt>F1". The parser is fairly liberal and allows lower or upper case, and also abbreviations such as "<Ctl>" and "<Ctrl>". If you set the option to the special string "disabled", then there will be no keybinding for this action.

Download ghotkey and rock Ubuntu today. Download: ghotkey-0.1.tar.gz

About Us

What's Rockiger?

Rockiger is the idea to give Hackers and Geeks an instrument they can play with. A Rockiger Laptop should be loved by its owner as Jimi loved his guitar. As you know nothing works without love. To build such a laptop while having a lot of fun on this magic carpet ride is the declared goal of Rockiger.

Who is Rockiger?

At the moment Rockiger consist of an idea, the will to change something and myself. My name is Marco Laspe. I live in Germany in a city called Wiesbaden. I like to play tennis, love 80s Metal and would like to get a new dog. Besides, I want to change the world and this is the beginning.

What's in it for you?

Finally, it's getting interesting. You are the right place, if you are a Hacker or a Geek or you just want to have a really cool laptop, one that rocks, in the future. I will blog about any progress here.

You want to change world, too?

If you want to change the world, just call me: here, here or here. I need your help!