Posts in category 'productivity'

  

Focus on One Thing

Recent experiences and training have reinforced for me the value of focusing on one thing at a time. This is true both in terms of getting things done and in terms of personal learning and development. I have heard it mentioned many times that context switching between multiple tasks throughout the day can cost 15 […]

Issues with ITIL Change Management

While the concepts behind ITIL seemed reasonable when I first learned about it, I have become concerned about the effectiveness of ITIL change management in practice, particularly in comparison to the practice of continuous delivery. Change management can mean many things. I am referring to it in the context of ITIL service management which Wikipedia […]

My System for Writing

People from time to time ask me how I manage to write all the articles on my website despite having a family and a demanding full-time job. My simplistic, off-the-cuff answer is “one sentence at a time” :) Seriously, however, over the years I have developed a personal writing system that I would like to […]

Lean Lessons From Starcraft 2

The real-time strategy computer game Starcraft 2 is about economic production as much as it is about combat. One of the major trade-offs within the game is allocating resources between economic production, combat unit production, improving technology / upgrades, and combat units. The ‘macro’ style of play in particular places a heavy focus on maximizing […]

Example-Based Requirements

Most of the requirements I deal with are in the form of documented use cases and lists of business rules. These requirements are almost always written in a generalized form. For example a business rule might be written as “Produce a warning if the last transaction in the account is more than a year ago.” […]

The Business Case for Dual Monitors

I debated posting this as there seems to be a broad consensus amongst I.T. bloggers that dual monitors should be a given for software developers. Leading the pack is Jeff Atwood, who posted about three monitors back in 2004! The message, however, has not necessarily reached the management or facilities / infrastructure people at many […]

Defect Prevention Practices

I have written numerous times about defect elimination practices such as code reviews, unit testing, and static code analysis tools. From the perspective of lean thinking, however, eliminating defects, no matter how soon after they are introduced, results in waste due to rework to fix the defects. The ideal as far as lean is concerned […]

Avoiding Distractions with Email

This article continues the theme of my previous article on avoiding being disturbed at work by looking at another source of distractions – email. Email is an important form of communication for me at work, but I as previously discussed I cannot afford to let the use of email distract me during my dedicated blocks […]

Boost Productivity Using a Do Not Disturb Policy

I have lately found myself busier than usual with meetings, project reviews, requests for assistance from team members, and the like. This caused me difficulties in finding time to do solo thinking-intensive work – specifically figuring out the architecture & design of a new software system. Books like Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams and Flow: […]

Using the “Next Step” to Improve Your Focus and Productivity

I have discovered a powerful technique for improving my focus and productivity on work tasks that I call the Next Step. I have been consistently using this technique for a while now and I am quite pleased with its benefits. How Does it Work? The basic concept is simple: clearly identify the next task you […]

Six Strategies to Survive Being Buried in Meetings

Have you ever had days or weeks when your calendar was filled seemingly to the brim with meetings? As an experienced software developer in a senior technical role, I find that I am being requested to attend more and more meetings, especially to provide advice or guidance to various teams and to participate in status […]

Working Four Days a Week

For over six months now I have been working four days a week instead of the usual five. I originally made this change in schedule in order to spend more time with my young son. When I started, I was unsure how it would go, and how long I would be able to maintain it. […]

Being Thankful

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in Canada inspired me to write this article. Too often, we focus on the negatives – the obstacles or problems in our way – and fail to appreciate and be thankful for everything else. I find this to be especially true at work, where part of my responsibility is to investigate […]

How to Make Time for the Important

Do you find yourself constantly busy with urgent tasks, left with no time to work on less urgent yet more important activities? In my experience this is a wide-spread problem, both at the workplace and at home. How many people do you know acknowledge the importance of exercise, but claim they don’t have the time? […]

How to Achieve Peak Performance

Being a professional at the top of your field means being able to consistently perform at a high level. Those underneath may have the same knowledge and abilities, but if they cannot apply them consistently, then they will never rise to the top. This is true across a diverse collection of activities including athletics, photography, […]

Do More by Doing Less

I recently read the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. The book is the outcome of a simple question: how can a good or even mediocre company achieve enduring greatness? A research team worked for five years to answer this question, and Good to Great provides […]

Taking a Break

In order to achieve and maintain optimal performance in any activity, it is important to take breaks. Whether it is a good night’s sleep, a lunch break during the day at work, or a longer annual vacation, the body and mind need recovery time. Trying to operate at 100% capacity all the time will eventually […]

Getting Things Done

Thanks to a comment submitted by Brian for my article Working Smarter, Not Harder, I have recently worked through the book Getting Things Done : The Art Of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I already considered myself well-organized, yet I found the book extremely helpful. The author takes a bottom-up approach, focusing on presenting an […]

Working Smarter, Not Harder

I have always been fond of the phrase ‘work smarter, not harder’, so I enjoyed my recent read of the book Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco. The main premise of the book is that being 100% busy (totally efficient) provides no capacity for dealing with change. […]