What matters the most to you?

The only way we really increase our productivity is by choosing what to spend our time on.  Prioritization is what makes scrum teams more effective, and prioritization is the most important part of time management.

Do the right things for the right reasons.

And, the only way to do the right things, is to decide that some things are the wrong things to do.

We don’t have unlimited time.  Adding a task to your already full to-do list will cause the list to be too long, and one of the items won’t get done.

Say no.

The only way to spend your time on the right tasks, is to know what those tasks are, and then to say no to all of the others that are competing for your time.

Say no to the right things.

It’s ok to say no.  This is not, “no never”.  But, “no, I’m not doing that, not today, or maybe not this week.”  I might change my mind in the future, but I’ve decided that I don’t have desire to do x, so I’m not going to waste my time on x.

Say no to stuff that doesn’t align with your goals.

Re-evaluate what those goals are and re-check if the items are still in alignment.  When there’s a conflict, re-evaluate what your goals really are.

Continual re-evaluation of what motivates you to prioritize certain tasks over others is the key to growth and not repeating past mistakes.

Question what you do and the reasons for it.  Question the process that surrounds any given task.  How could you be living your life differently?  The rewards could be more time to spend doing what you really want to do.  Or perhaps you’ll discover your true motivations.

It’s a wonder how many times we continue to do something just out of habit or “because that’s the way it’s always been done.”

A relevant quote from Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat:

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried

— Song lyrics – Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat

What you can’t control

In the past, I have tried to rush things that I want, and in doing so, I miss the enjoyment of the journey there.

And even in that statement, I am failing to correctly describe the concept.  It is a mistake to assume that I can control the destination.

One of life’s greatest struggles is in accepting that some things are out of our control.

I like control.

You’ve got a problem?  I’ve got a solution.

Seriously.

But there are some things we can’t control.  In programming we wrap them in “try…catch” blocks.

We only have control over the “try…” part.

As a Web Developer, I should Add a Checkbox

I am dedicated to staying sane.  Sanity is not an option.

But providing options may save your sanity, if you are a web developer.  Clients will rarely ask for the ability to turn something on and off.  Instead, they will describe the feature’s settings and appearance, but inevitably they will forget to tell you to create a KILL SWITCH.

If the default is for this feature to be on, set the checkbox to being checked by default.  Then you’ve got a kill switch if you ever need to turn it off.

When should you add a checkbox?

Here are some hints that you should have a checkbox for enabling or disabling the new feature you’re building:

  • Feature depends on a third-party service.  If you have no control over the service, and if the rest of the site does not depend on that service, add a checkbox.  This allows you to quickly disable the integration if problems arise or billing agreements change.
  • Other similar features have a way to be enabled/disabled.  This makes it likely that the client has the same expectations this time.  If you’re new to the project, ask around and check out existing code.
  • Feature may interfere with other site features.  Think about this from both design and functionality standpoints.
  • Feature needs to be deployed at an exact time.  Your time is valuable.  You should take control of your life.  Add a checkbox, deploy it ahead of time, tell client they can turn it on whenever they want.  Win-win.  This assumes that it’s been thoroughly tested on a staging server and you’re not concerned about any immediate issues.
  • How static is the website?  The more complex and ever-changing it is, the more likely you’ll wish you had that checkbox.