This morning as I was coming into class I was thinking about life and my time here at The Iron Yard. Specifically I was thinking about how to get more good quality work done and spend less time sitting in front of a computer.
Why spend less time in front of a computer? I start to feel like I’m losing my mind after awhile.
I Try to Accomplish the Same Thing
A lot of the things that we (everyone) are doing are very similar to things that we have done before.
I realize this because I often times end up looking back at previous work to get an idea for how I’m going to build whatever feature I am currently working on.
But I am finding that as I learn more about how Ruby on Rails and engineering in general work, I am trying to attack the same problem from several different directions. Trying to accomplish a similar result through another avenue.
In fact that is how I go about a lot of things in life right now. If it works great… but maybe if I got up an hour later and slept a bit more I could think more clearly and do it better next time. Or maybe if I drank tea instead of so much coffee… or maybe if I drank more water instead of coke zero…
Getting The Little Wins & Rocking Chairs
Yesterday we had two guest talks from people who have been in the industry for quite some time. One of the guys, Brian Burridge is from Florida and has built ever single site/app for Hannah Montana until the most recent version. The other guy, Tim Whitacre is from PA and has done some really interesting work in the CMS space.
There were two things that really stuck out to me as being important take aways from their talks.
The first thing is the importance of getting the “little wins.” An app can’t be written from start to scratch in five minutes. I can however throw up an input box in five minutes and connect it to the database. This little “thing” is both visual and tied to a database… and its done. Setting little goals, completing them and then moving to the next goal, is super helpful. (Of course most features will take longer than 5 minutes… but the importance of feeling and seeing the accomplishment is very real.)
The second thing I believe is super important was the Rocking Chair Test. Basically this asks the question, when I’m 80 and sitting in a rocking chair… what will I look back and say I wish I had done more of? And on the flip side, what will I look back and wish I had done less of? The perspective that can be gained from those simple questions can give a person amazing insight into how they approach a project. (This is why some developers choose not to work long days… or don’t work all weekend…)
Wrapping This Up With a Bow
At the end of the day a lot of things come down to perspective and how we approach each and every day. Giving myself some tools, like the Little Wins and the Rocking Chairs, can help me keep my work, life and relationships in a proper “tension.”
I am willing to be a guinea pig and experiment on myself some right now. However at some point I’ve got to figure out some kind of workflow and routine that works for me as I continue to develop applications. Till then, I’ll keep trying to accomplish similar things through different methods.
Have a great weekend folks!