What tools do you use for analysis?

Pen and paper.

This is a hard and fast rule that I have always followed and is absolutely critical to my success. Just a few of the reasons:

1. I firmly believe that analysis, design, and planning is much more effective if it is done “away” from the computer. These are totally different activities from programming and they take a different mindset and environment. That’s pretty tough to do if you use computerized tools to organize.

2. I like to spread out my notes, plans, diagrams, lists, etc. on a table to work on them. I also tack them up on the wall above my work space, both at the computer and in the other room. I want to give my mind every opportunity to see the “big picture” when it’s appropriate. Again, tough to do with a computer unless you have
5 monitors.

3. I carry my notes with me whereever I go. You never know when inspriration will hit, and I don’t want to carry a laptop everywhere and wait for it to boot up.

4. Bedtime is critical thinking time (both at night and in the morning). I always have my notes and multiple colored pens with me in bed. Some of my best ideas have come at this time. I can’t imagine the same thing happening with a laptop.