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Discussion on: Cleaning your room instead of doing your homework

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ImTheDeveloper • Edited

I love this discussion. Early in my career and through education I learnt to jump on new work early so I could gauge it's size and ultimately then end up ahead of the curve with less stress to hit deadlines. However I then joined an industry where "business and system change" is typically embryonic, fuzzy or scope is unknown.

My typical play to get ahead of the curve often resulted in stress due to the continuous change in requirements. Regardless to this I was always seen as the efficient guy who delivered work on time or early. Little did people know the cool character was near breakdown due to stress.

As my career and understanding of my own abilities (reduction in imposter syndrome) matured I learnt to adapt in order to overcome. I set very clear constraints in my mind which are:

  • Do enough to understand the initial scope
  • Wait
  • Confirm scope to self, tell others what your scope is
  • Deliver with precision

The important difference is the "wait". I gauge the size of the work and I then do nothing but clean my bedroom. This might involve preparing an approach in my mind right through to researching a subject area to gain further knowledge on the tasks ahead. The main point here is, it's not a time to do actual work, it's a time to better yourself or to complete tasks which impact my mental ability to later on deliver work without distraction.

There are huge benefits in waiting, the removal of time to procrastinate when you need to be in delivery mode brings swathes of clarity and the ability to truly concentrate on the task. I've found my productively in this window goes through the roof and guess what I'm being super lean, delivering purely value adding activities with a defined scope.

I stand back monitoring the changes against my initial review of the tasks. If requirements are removed or added I can mentally note how much extra or less work this is for me when it comes to delivery. Most importantly though, if the project or task is suddenly thrown in the bin, I've not spent hours, days or weeks delivering to an open ended fuzzy scope where I'm left deflated and burnt out.

From the outside, in still seen as the efficient guy who can stick to deadlines. But now inside I'm thousands of times more comfortable and confident knowing I have this mental contract in place ensuring I'm lean and precise in my work.