Make More Work For Yourself, In Order To Have Less


Do you have difficulty with finishing your projects? If so, there is a good chance it is because (1) you took on too much unnecessary work and (2) you are lacking in project management skills, not software development skills.

You wind up with too much unnecessary work when you say "yes" to features that you should say "no" to. OK then, how can you get yourself to say "no"? Make yourself not want to take on the work right at the beginning. Make a rule such that taking on the feature will mean an explicit commitment to do additional (boring) work:

1. Use cases
2. Documentation
3. Tests

Either this work must be done in order for you to move on to your next feature or you must abandon the feature. If you stick to this rule, then you will be forced to seriously consider features before you take them on. When you do that, you will find yourself saying "no" to features. That is good. More important work will still make you say "yes" and less important work will get set aside. You will be in a good position to have a successful project.


There are many software engineering practices we know that (supposedly) we ought to follow, but then again what do we really know? After all, it is possible to write code and get a working program without them.

So we go ahead and start hacking and making projects. It can be fun and work great, for a while. Then there gets to be problems. We try to solve them with more software. That helps some, but not enough. There is something wrong in our approach, in how we think.

We can figure out the reasons why things do not turn out. They must be simple, because we never had many reasons why things ought to turn out.

OK, we can see an association between projects at scale getting done and those boring practices. Why so? Well, let us see if we can we think of other boring practices that work. (The reason why they work may be the same.) How about: "Measure twice, cut once." Measure right the first time, and the second is a waste, but who can be right all the time?

Well, OK, again: Why not follow the boring practices? Really, it is because they are boring. Why do we keep writing more code? Because writing code is more fun. Maybe we rationalize it by saying that the boring practices are worthless and the (extra) features are necessary. But let's be real here, that is not true.

Doing things on a simple-minded basis alone is not going to work at scale. It is not going to work, so there is no point in doing it. What then? Do the boring things. Better to do them, and have things turn out, than to do interesting work that accomplishes nothing.

Do that boring work and give your project depth.

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