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  • Stop Giving Away Your Greatest Advantage at Work

    There’s a good chance that you’re working too hard right now. Well, maybe not right now, because you’re reading this sentence, so perhaps these days. I’d bet there’s a very good chance that you’re working too hard these days, and you should consider stopping.

  • Slamming the Snooze Button on Work

    I read a lot these days about finishing things. I seem to have more trouble starting things than finishing them. At least one of my readers feels the same way. So what do we do when we're clearly avoiding starting certain tasks?

  • Stop Future Work From Hanging Over Your Head

    When I started exploring the Getting Things Done approach to managing work, I didn’t realize the transformative power of getting things out of my head and into a trusted system. I can’t think of any other single thing that I can teach to another person that has the potential not only to improve productivity, but much more importantly, help that person feel much more at ease with work. One obstacle to this ease comes from worrying about tasks that you need to start at some point in the future, but can’t or shouldn’t start yet. Fortunately, I have moved this obstacle out of my way, with the help of two handy tools.

  • When You're Buried in Email

    I find myself buried in email from time to time. In the past, when I finally took the time to dig myself out from under my backlog, I felt anxious or overwhelmed because it felt like new, potentially-urgent email kept flooding in while I was trying to catch up. This reminded me of my bad old days as a programmer, when bugs (as I called them then) seemed to flow in as quickly as I thought I was fixing them. The boat always feels like it’s at the point of sinking. After experiencing this a few times, the thought of trying to swim against this tidal wave of new email worsened my email-related anxiety, encouraging me to delay opening my email client even further, and creating a positive feedback loop of pain and suffering.

  • TDD is Not Magic

    From time to time I notice people saying this like “TDD can’t lead to good design”, and, like a dope, I can’t ignore them. Quite ironically, they make these statements because of the very act that practising TDD helped me understand how to do well: abstraction. I’m getting ahead of myself.

  • You Don't Like #NoEstimates? Here's What You Can Do...

    If you're willing to start acting like this starting now and the people around you are willing to start acting like this as well, then you have a chance of not failing horribly with small-item estimates (work needing around 1 month or less).
  • Leaky Scenarios: The Silent Project Killer

    When details leak into our scenarios (any tests), they become brittle. If you have brittle tests, then you probably have leaky abstractions in tests and/or in production code. It’s so easy to let abstractions leak. The best of us do it. We often don’t notice that we’re doing it, so we need to be on guard for it.

  • The Two-Minute Rule

    You walk into work and you’re just about to #coffeeup. You have energy—or at least you will have it soon. Ever the good corporate citizen, wanting to remain responsive to customers and coworkers, you open your email. You dive in. You put out fires. You connect people together who really need to talk. You recommend the perfect article to someone stuck who needed your help. You outline an idea for a new feature and send it to everyone for their comments. You get through it all. You’re a machine. You feel great!

    Then you look at the clock. That took five hours, eighteen minutes. Uh… lunch?

  • What Makes an MVP?

    Confusion abounds about what constitutes a Minimum, Viable Product, or “MVP”. This seems natural: as the term gained popularity, a larger group of people struggled to understand it, use it, and its meaning shifted. In many circles, “MVP” has become a kind of idiom: it has a meaning that no longer relates to its constituent words. The result? Confusion, anger, resentment, and a lot of wasted effort. I have no illusion that I can fix this problem with one short article, but I’d like to try to cut through the nonsense a little, if I can. First, let me see whether I understand the tensions at play.

  • You Can Start Enjoying Work More Today!

    Do you have a miserable job? I judge by Patrick Lencioni’s definition from The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. How many decisions do you get to make about your work? How can you tell how well you’re performing? How do you see the influence and consequences of your work? If you face low autonomy, low measurability and low relevance, then you can safely label your job “miserable”. I think of these as jobs that don’t sustain your energy. They sound awfully miserable to me. My job at IBM was certainly miserable most of the time.

    Where miserable jobs live