- Approve all leave requests immediately. They’ve already earned it; playing gatekeeper over when they use it is patronizing.
- Take responsibility for problems. If you’re late, don’t blame your team. If someone’s not performing, it’s your job to handle it with them directly.
- Be a good shit shield. If this job was easy, you wouldn’t get paid so much to do it. That means there are going to be political battles, competition for resources, complaints, demands for you to justify your methods or even your existence, et cetera. Your team needs to know they can trust you to take care of the external turmoil, so they can concentrate on building the thing.
- Don’t waste their time. If you’re holding weekly hour-long meetings, you’re probably doing it wrong. If you need to plan or review a sprint, solve a problem, make a decision as a team, fine. Status meetings, if needed, should be fast, which is why many teams do them standing up. Meet with purpose.
- Spend time with them. Ideally you’ll all work together in a big room, but that’s rare. Answer emailed questions by walking over and talking about it. Sit with them, in your office or theirs, to solve problems. Call remote team members every couple of days, even if only for a few minutes. Ask for feedback on your own work. This is how great leaders always seem to know what’s going on.
Things to do/read when I want to goof off or an bored that would actually be productive without being painful
So when I’m tired, either physically or emotionally, I find that I tend to seek easy distractions. It reminds me of vegging out to whatever was on “the tube” back when TVs were actually tubes and you had to watch “what was on.” Except now it tends to be FaceBook or Instagram. Not that there’s anything wrong with social media, but I’d rather do it on purpose, not because I’m too decision-fatigued to come up with something better to do.
A lot of the time, when I quit swiping through whatever app it is, I regret that instead of goofing off, I didn’t do something just as easy, but more enriching, like go through articles I’ve bookmarked to read later, or read up on some of the tips and tricks linked from my favorite podcast. Call it goofing on. Sometimes the only reason I didn’t is that I would have had to decide on something and then find it.
So this page is my equivalent of setting out my running shoes the night before – something you do when the motivation and will are high, that reduces the barrier for me when I know it will be low. Give some of these a try if you want, and let me know if you have any top links/resources/activities you’d add!
When I want to play a game, check FB, etc., I open this list first.
The list of Goof Ons:
Things to do when I have no energy at all (these are listed first for a reason!)
- Check my calendar
- Look at the family photo stream
- Check Safari reading list
- Check Kindle and/or iBooks for non-fiction I might feel like reading a page from
- Read show notes from favorite episodes of The Tim Ferriss Show
Things to do when I’m frustrated and need to do something else for a minute
- Process email (either business or personal)
- Think of one thing I’ve learned from the most recent thing I’ve read and put one or more action items in my calendar that will help me put it into practice.
- read Four Hour Chef
- do one push-up – 5 sec. down and 5 sec. up
- do one L pull-up
- do one air squat
- Check FB saved links (don’t do this when I’m too fatigued, I’ll open FB and get stuck on the news feed)
Opinions vary on how long to track a new habit, but I think the best use of Lift is to establish a new positive habit. And, given our limited willpower and cognitive space, it works best to focus on just a few at a time. So I’ve adopted the strategy of no longer tracking some habits once they’re established.
Examples of habits I no longer track in Lift:
Inspired by Cory Doctorow
So I read
— Lukas Wiesboeck (@lukaswiesboeck) January 31, 2014
and Cory answers the question “What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?” with “Making breakfast. I make my family a 3-4 course, hot/cold tailor-made breakfast every morning, in 20 minutes flat, with handmade coffees.”
I am no cook, and anytime I do try to make a hot breakfast for my family, I’m always in the kitchen for at least 45 minutes no matter how quick I try to be. So it’s strictly a weekend thing, and even so, we’ve gotten out of the habit because it doesn’t really make sense for Emily to wrangle two rambunctious hungry children alone for 45 minutes while I do it.
I had to know, so I asked him. His response was immediate:
Zihang H., who I follow on Lift, posted the following question recently:
How to make our lives more interesting since most of our daily lives consists [sic] of endless routine?
It’s been a long time since I’ve been bored, but I thought about it and posted this response:
During the times in my life where my central activities bored me, I was happiest when I spent as much time in active personal development as possible. Other times, like now, my central activities are incredibly challenging (no boredom possible), so my routine is all about setting up a good foundation for the central activities, getting the mundane stuff done as efficiently as possible, and carving out small-but-workable slices of time for personal development.
Later, I learned Logo and BASIC when I was 8 and 9. Just very simple toy programs. I learned more sophisticated programming in Pascal in high school. I did have books, and Dad got me started, but my schools’ programming classes get at least half the credit.
I started getting paid to work with computers while still in high school. I have made money ever since from working with computers. Even the years I taught ballroom dancing full-time, I wrote software part-time and brought in new revenue at the studio by setting up the website and our first online sales of gift certificates.
Today I live in Vienna and manage a significant software project at the International Atomic Energy Agency. As a job, it’s amazing, and the work is important. I’m writing this from a lovely apartment in Venice where I’m vacationing with my family while the team works without me.
It’s a good life, and I’m incredibly grateful. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know how to code.
But it’s not just about the good work you can do and the good life you can have. It’s fun. The things we can do now with software are amazing. A programmer in the 80s would be awed by what’s possible to coders now. It’s not just faster computers, it’s the fact that so much of the world is now online. Take something simple like flight bookings: they were computerized in the 80s (probably earlier), but in closed systems. Today, there are so many ways to tie that information together that travel booking sites abound, and the best ones are so good that we can be near-omniscient about our options. We think little of booking, from our couch, vacations with airlines and hotels we’ve never heard of.
Coders regularly produce apps which do things that weren’t possible a few years ago. My phone (an anachronistic name for the hyper-connected supercomputer I carry in my pocket) can augment my reality in countless ways, but the latest is holding it up and looking through it so that all the Italian writing is replaced with English.
What’s next? Imagine writing code to do this:
- social apps that allow you to point your finger and write in the sky…where all your friends can see it through their glasses or contact lenses.
- designing toys and selling them online where buyers click to print them out on their 3D printers
- building the apps to do the designing I just mentioned or building the site to broker the transactions
- writing code to control swarms of tiny flying/crawling robots to…well, frankly the first of these will all have military or intelligence applications which may appeal to some, but, after that, there will be plenty of environmental and scientific uses.
I’m posting this in a public place where my children will be able to see it forever.
If any of you are ever in the hospital, I’m not stopping for red lights.
I will be there as fast as humanly possible. I will drive, get on a plane, hail a cab (hansom, motorized, whatever), run, or whatever combination gets me to you. That’s true if you tell me I don’t need to come, if you tell me not to come, if I’m estranged from you, if your spouse doesn’t like me, if I have a big meeting the next day, if I’m in a big meeting right then, if I’m not a doctor and can’t fix anything, if your mother is already there, if I’m with your mother who is in a different hospital, if I’m sick and that means they won’t let me anywhere near you, if you’re in the hospital because you did something dumb, illegal, or embarrassing, if I was just there, if I was already planning on going in a few weeks, if I’m going to a wedding, if I’m in a wedding, if I’m at a funeral, if I don’t have any vacation time, if I have to borrow the money from a credit card or a friend. You get the idea.
I won’t wait for you to ask. If you are hurt, scared, or need help, I will be there.
It’s natural that our comprehension of God is limited by our imagination. That’s why scientists get rankled at the notion that science takes the wonder out of the world. An astronomer spends her life wrapping her mind around the biggest, and wondrous, concepts in the universe, a biologist spends his life wrapping his mind around the most intricate, and wondrous, details of the universe, and so on.
Often, scientists are agnostic. Their concept of the natural world is so amazing, the supernatural holds no attraction for them.
But many of these intellectual types do have spiritual, and even religious, beliefs. And, as a result of the mind-expanding concepts they deal with on a daily basis, their concept of God (by any name) is HUGE. They are mystified by the conflicts about keeping Christ in Christmas, keeping God in schools, whether or not God blesses America, who gets married, and whether our national pledge also affirms God. And that’s the American perspective. They are equally mystified that God cares whether men wear beards, women drive, or a religious figure is depicted in a picture.
From that perspective, God doesn’t have a country. He doesn’t even have a planet. Earth is a mote of dust in a mote of dust in a mote of dust in a mote of dust in God’s full creation. He doesn’t have a holiday…in fact the whole of human history is an eye-blink in His creation. God is present in school and Christmas and a foxhole because God is everywhere and everywhen to an unfathomable degree, not because of national policy.
You don’t have to be a scientist yourself to understand this, but anyone reading this has a responsibility to keep a proper sense of perspective. If you really realize the grandeur of His creation, you can’t help but glimpse that these conflicts are insignificant. Irrelevant. Petty. Needlessly fearful.
If you’re worried about whether God is in…anything…you’ve forgotten Who you’re talking about.