The Brisa Story

I don’t know about you, but I can procrastinate with the best. If I have a large task or project to accomplish, it feels like complete overload and it’s difficult to focus, or even begin, taking it on.

I do know there are things that help me get to that ready state, and Brisa is that and more.

How do you plan?

Do you handle big tasks with just a simple list and solve problems creatively in your head? Do you need to break tasks down into ever smaller pieces until they’re manageable? What about systems like Getting Things Done or a bullet journal? Or do you swear by a system for 6 months and then switch it up and refresh?

Brisa is meant to help, no matter how you plan, track, and accomplish.

Ending Projects

In early 2018, I was finishing up a number of projects that didn’t get very far. I had a huge list of ideas for what I wanted to work on next, but it seemed impossible to prioritize them, keep detailed notes, and keep all of the information I needed in one place.

First, I tried a doc. I would make a big heading for each project, and write detailed notes about why I wanted to do it and how it might work. This quickly became unmanageable. I wanted details and context.

Next, I switched to a spreadsheet so I could see them all, structure the fields, and in some imagined future, I would build on them. But the future never came, and I was left with a big sheet that I never wanted to look at because it was too hard to add details.

I also tried a kanban, but it didn’t feel fitting for a big list, most of which was in a To Do state.

A “Small” Project

I decided it was time to build a small (hah!) app to keep track of those ideas, allow me to organize them, and break them down. I was going to keep a small number of fields and allow some free-form details, but realized the fields I want to track change over time, and my developer instincts kicked in to make it a bit more generic.

In addition, I realized I rarely stick with tools that are limiting. The more I can track in an app, the more likely I am to actually come back and use it again.

What did I actually want?

First, I wanted a way to get down tasks I want to accomplish. A title and notes is simple enough. I liked the GMail-style labels - create a label and add notes to labels.

Next, I wanted spreadsheets that I could expand on as much as necessary.

I thought kanbans were out of the question - they are complex beasts with fancy UI features. But a lot of apps I built struggled because they didn’t have drag and drop support, and once I found out how easy that is to do, I realized a kanban isn’t that hard to build.

Last, I wanted to be able to have a visually appealing way to arrange things, and whiteboards were born. It’s incredible how visual we are, and how much having a way to move cards around like they’re sticky notes can help you navigate a lot of different tasks.

But that wasn’t enough to me. I wanted to be able to pick and choose tools based on the needs of a task. A line in a spreadsheet is tremendously useful, but being able to link them freely makes it exponentially more valuable to me.

And Brisa is Born.

I decided on a model where a card is a central, critical building block. For me, a card could be a reminder to do something next week, a grocery list, or an entire project.

Each card in Brisa would be the base on which everything would be built. If a single card isn’t enough to manage the task or project, simply expand it to a board (or multiple boards).

Brisa means breeze in Spanish, and after a trip to Latin America, it felt like it embodied what I want out of a tool that keeps track of all the things in my head.

So how do I use Brisa?

As the author of Brisa, and an avid dog fooder - a term in tech that means try to use the tools you create as much as possible, as in “if you think that food is good enough for your dog, eat it yourself” - I use Brisa to track everything I need to do.

  • Personal To Dos: I keep a list of everything I need to do soon in a card, and mark them as completed when I take care of them.
  • Brisa Project: I track all of the work that needs to be done to get Brisa out of beta in a kanban.
  • Whiteboards: I use whiteboards extensively. I have a whiteboard that keep personal stuff (to do, bucket list, quick notes/websites I want to find later or look over, project ideas, etc).
  • Home: I keep the to do list of home tasks, a grocery list, upcoming purchases, recipes, notes about agreements, even reminders about our dog, in a Home group that’s shared with the others in my household.
  • Other Projects: I do occasional consulting work and am trying to use Brisa to manage those projects in Brisa.

The great thing about dog fooding in this way is that I see and struggle through unimplemented features every day. It helps clarify what is the highest priority, what features would help, and what boards could be added in the future.

And where you come in!

Of course, it can be difficult to understand what is confusing, poorly displayed, and impossible to figure out, when working on a project of your own creation, so it’s great to be getting beta testers and getting as much feedback as possible from them.

You can request beta access on the home page to help build the best possible product!


See also