Category: Careering

11 Habits of an Effective Developer

Being a developer is hard – and being an effective developer demands that you juggle many responsibilities at the same time – from writing and reviewing code to mentoring others and communicating with stakeholders.

How are you supposed to be good at all of these things? Each one is hard even just on its own!

The answer – build good habits.

Then you don’t have to actually remember to do the things, you just stick with your habits.

So here are some habits that I believe can make you a more effective developer. Practice these, and you will be the most valuable member of your team.

1. Read

Reading makes you smarter. There’s just something about it. Obviously you learn information from the content you are reading, but its also exercise for your brain.

I’ve been back in the habit of reading for the past year or so, and I feel it making my mind a little fresher – a little sharper.

Set yourself a reading goal to hold yourself accountable – this year my reading goal is to read 15 books – 7 books for fun, 5 books for personal development, and 3 books for work (books about software).

2. Log Your Daily Standup

You’re probably already doing regular standup meetings at work. These are ubiquitous in the software industry now.

But I also find it beneficial to write down my plan for the day every day. This has at least three benefits.

First, I can keep that in front of me all day to help stay focused and on-task.

Second, I can refer to it the next morning while I struggle to remember what I did the day before ūüėā.

Third, I can refer to it at the end of the year when I’m asked to reflect on my work for an annual review (or to help brainstorm for the day you eventually need to update your resum√©.

3. Keep the main thing the main thing

This is a great quote:

To succeed, always remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Brendon Burchard, High performance Habits

And its true.

It is too easy to get lost in the weeds as a developer – you can spend a huge amount of time on something that is in some ways productive and helpful, but might not be actually delivering value to your employer, or related to the high priority task you need to get done before some deadline.

Writing unit tests is a great goal; but writing unit tests for a component that’s not used probably isn’t the main thing you’re supposed to be working on. You just found yourself in that code and noticed it needed cleaning up.

Keep the main thing the main thing. Stay focused.

4. Use your daily commute time for something productive

This is as important as your commute is long. In my case my commute to work is about 2 hours.

Yep, 2 hours. Each way.

Luckily I’m not driving, but it is all too easy to spend 4 hours a day playing Angry Birds, or scrolling through Instagram. And that would be a colossal waste of time.

I spend one of those trips doing something for myself, like reading (see #1), or writing (see #11). And I spend the other trip doing work for my employer, who allows me to end my work day on the commute to avoid getting home suuuuper late.

But it’s a game changer.

Suddenly you have time – already carved into your schedule – to tackle that thing you’ve been meaning to do. Do it on your commute!

5. Attend tech talks or meetups regularly

If you’re not constantly learning in this industry you’re falling behind. It is one of the greatest things about working as a developer that you get to keep learning throughout your career, but it is hard to know where you should be focusing your learning.

Public tech talks and meetups expose you to industry trends and technologies you haven’t seen before. They also are great opportunities to slowly and casually build a network of likeminded (and potentially useful) connections with others in your industry.

You can also accomplish some of this by joining public Slack groups – but there’s still no substitute for chatting face-to-face – IRL.

6. Document your accomplishments, and make quantitative measurements

I learned this from the Manager Tools/Career Tools podcasts. In an episode where they are discussing building a resum√©, they recommend keeping a career file – a document where you keep extensive detailed notes on accomplishments you’ve had at your job.

The career file can include a wide variety of things, but they should be quantitative, and should demonstrate the skills you have. Imagine if you could show your usage of these skills, instead of just listing them on your resum√© – it’s much more compelling.

Did you increase the performance of a critical component of code? By what percentage? And in how many days/weeks? Was it ahead of schedule? Did this cut costs for the business? Did customer complaints reduce as a result of your work? Did it enable sales to land a big deal?

These are all quantifiable evidence of how great you are for the company you work for – and an effective developer knows why they are valuable.

7. Keep your computer organized

This is as simple as it sounds.

Your job is complex enough – don’t add another layer of complexity by making your computer hard to use. Know where things are – have a system for naming files or organizing directories.

8. Review your own pull requests

Whenever you submit a pull request and ask your peers for review, you are asking for a bit of their time to double-check your work. You should be confident that it is as good as you could make it.

Don’t be that developer that submits a half-done pull request (unless you’re just asking for early feedback and in that case state that intent explicitly).

I like the interface of a pull request to look over my work, so sometimes I’ll create the pull request but not add any reviewers until I’ve reviewed it myself. I can even make comments to myself there, or go through file by file to make sure I’m not leaving little debug messages for myself in my final commits.

9. Commit early and often

Git will save your life some day. Well ok, maybe not literally. But it will be your safety net and allow you to quickly revert back to a working version, or refer to that intermediate step you made while working through a problem.

But only if you committed your work while you went.

There is no reason not to commit often – even if you want to avoid cluttering up git history you can squash commits together at the end.

At a minimum you need to commit your work at the end of every day before you go home, and push to the remote. If your computer implodes, or gets eaten by a lion, your work will be safe, and you won’t have to scramble to remember exactly how you solved that difficult problem so elegantly last week.

10. Schedule exercise into your daily routine

Our job is very sedentary. This is terrible for your health over the long term, and makes you feel sluggish and depressed in the short term.

This is a simple life hack. When you get exercise you have more energy. Fact.

So ensure you have exercise in your routine. At least half an hour. Every. Single. Day.

Personally, I choose to use a rental bicycle for the last leg of my commute instead of taking the bus. It is often actually faster than transit, plus I feel awake and fresh when I arrive at the office.

You can also find yoga videos on YouTube in the morning/evening, or even just go for a walk at lunch every day.

There’s no excuse, and you’ll feel SO much more powered up to accomplish all the things in your busy life.

11. Write when you learn a new thing

Remember how when you were in school and your teacher taught a lesson, you had to write down what you learned and submit assignments demonstrating your new knowledge?

That’s not just so the teacher can mark you.

More importantly, it helps you internalize that learning, and commit it to long term memory.

Maybe you can start a blog, or maybe you just keep a journal or some notes. But writing (either by hand, or on the computer) can help take your learning to the next level.

So Many Habits!

You can’t take all of these on at once – overreaching on too many things at once is a recipe for failure. But start with one of these behaviours, and do it every day. Then after a month, once that behaviour has ingrained itself into you as a habit, start the next one.

After a year, you’ll have all of these working for you, powering you to be a more effective developer version of yourself!

Go get it!

Why Agile-at-Scale is So Painful for Developers

Does you use the Agile methodology at work? What do you think of it? Do you think it helps you be more productive?

I suspect your answer to that question depends on a number of factors, but the key determiners are likely the role assigned to you by the Agile framework, and the details of how Agile has been adopted by your company.

Why Agile is Supposedly Better Than Waterfall

Waterfall has a fatal flaw – although thorough planning and a long-term roadmap are useful in organizing a coherent project plan and achieving a big goal, you’re stuck with this plan once you’ve started. Projects planned with waterfall will often do huge portions of their work before they are able to grab the separate pieces of a system and try them out together.

This means that if something is wrong, you don’t find out for a long time – possibly until its too late.

And if the market changes while you’re working on this project, well that’s just too bad. You’ve already committed to making the thing you planned from the beginning. At this point you have no choice but to see it through and release your too-late product to the already-moved-on market.

Agile is primarily intended to solve one key problem in Waterfall; just as the name describes, it gives businesses the ability to change their mind quickly, and pivot to a new plan.

It accomplishes this by prescribing that work be chunked into 2-week commitments (this can vary from 1 to 4 weeks). At the end of that 2 weeks, the entire software system should be in a working (shippable) state, and everyone should be able to choose the next most important thing they can get done in the next two weeks.

This is an elegant idea. And it works for some teams, but it requires a lot of discipline, and it doesn’t scale well.

Agile for really large teams – sucks.

What Is Hard About Scaling Agile

There is a whole industry that has arisen around trying to apply the Agile methodology to large corporations. And this is a noble pursuit. It is easy to see why corporations would want to adopt these paradigms – all the little guys do it with great success, why shouldn’t they!

But agile is inherently challenging for large teams. Imagine a team of 1000 – this breaks down to at least 100 scrum teams if you keep a maximum of 10 people per team.

The projects endeavoured by these types of teams are enormous, and require detailed planning and coordination on multiple levels.

How do you simultaneously get a team of 1000 working together in the same direction on these projects, but then also be able to change the direction of the company at a week’s notice?

How do you simultaneously empower 1000 employees to feel ownership for their work while retaining the ability to change what they work on at a week’s notice?

The answer is, of course, you can’t. You need to compromise somewhere, and so these frameworks for applying Agile principles at a large scale do compromise.

Instead of being able to change the plan every couple weeks, you group sprints into sets, and re-evaluate at the end of that couple-of-months period instead. You play mini-Waterfall.

And to make sure everyone at the business level stays up-to-date on how things are progressing, you have hoards of personnel dedicated to communicating status between teams.

And this is where scaling Agile breaks down. When you introduce this much planning and coordination into agile, you lose the agility.

It’s like Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle – trying to measure a thing causes a change in that thing, and you’ve kind of ruined the accuracy of the measurement.

How your role in large-scale agile defines whether you think it’s working:

This is where we can see that your feelings on working within an Agile system will depend on your position with that system.

If you are an individual contributor, you will now spend a large portion of your time allowing others to measure you. It will go far beyond your daily standup. Every project or initiative in the company will have its own meetings to both plan and assess progress, and you will be expected to attend lots of these.

If you are a communicator in this system, you are incentivized to ask lots of questions, and have a clear picture of everything that’s going on at all times. But this incentive works against the pure productivity of the team. Every status update you give is an interruption from whatever you were working on. And each interruption takes a long time to recover from. Focus is not just lost for 15 seconds while you have a “quick check-in” – it is lost for half an hour while the you struggle to re-enter “the zone” and re-establish the deep concentration they were in.

If you are a leader or executive in this system, you are too far away from these interruptions to see their devastation first-hand. Without real proximity to the scrum teams or experience working as a contributor, you may not realize that the your effort to stay abreast of status in an attempt to make informed decisions has introduced a counter-productive vector in the system.

The need to keep executives appraised is important and fair – the business does absolutely need to understand what’s going on in order to make the best decisions about how to allocate money and resources.

But it’s also what sucks about working as an individual contributor at giant companies.

So What?

It helps to understand these things to make them less painful. Agile doesn’t have to be bad.

It is up to the implementers to avoid imposing onerous bean-counting requirements, and to protect the developers from as much of the structure of the scaling up as possible. Sprint planning is still useful! But implementing a company-wide restriction on how to type out your task descriptions is not.

If you are a communicator, know that you are the key to pulling off agile without being a pain in the butt. Communicate effectively, but try to do as much observation from a distance as possible.

If you are an individual contributor, advocate for what you need to make yourself more productive. Remember – you are being paid (probably a lot) to use a specialized skill. Try to preserve most of your time for that job.

How to do High-Bar Code Review Without Being a Jerk

How to do code review that enforces high standards while avoiding common problems on your team.

Code review is the hardest part of being a developer.


Whereas most of our work is between you and a computer – a machine you just have to operate correctly and indicate clear intentions to – code review is a thing between humans. And like it or not, those humans are squishy, opinionated, emotional creatures. And those traits make code review a challenge.

In principle your goal in a code review is simple: examine another person’s code and make sure their pull request (“PR”) is “good enough” to merge.

But in reality there are a gazillion other things swirling around in your brain.

  • Urgency – is this a hot fix for a major production outage?
  • Seniority – am I allowed to decline this senior developer’s PR?
  • Reaction – will someone yell at me if I decline this PR?
  • Grudges – will you decline my next PR just because I declined this one?

None of these are related to the code quality, but they are legitimate concerns – you might really rub people the wrong way if you review code unkindly.

So how do you avoid these problems? And how do you set up a team for successful code reviews?

Set the Team Up for Success

Before anyone even writes any code, set clear expectations. Anticipate the obvious problems and just avoid them.

  1. Use a code linter – many arguments in PRs are over style. And thats just not the place for it. You can easily prevent most of these disagreements from making it as far as the pull request by agreeing on a set of linter rules.
  2. Have a code style document – some things aren’t reasonably enforceable by a linter, but are still just conventions. Write these down in a central place and have everyone on the team agree to them. Getting buy-in from your team gives everyone accountability. If the team really did all agree on these rules its much easier to enforce them. All you need to do is link to that page and remind the developer that this was a team decision.
  3. Do design meetings – when starting a big task, consider having a design meeting. This might feel like a waste of time but it’s not. Having the team contribute to the design before the developer starts work will avoid large-scale issues from cropping up when it comes time to review. You don’t want to start a task over because it has a fatal design flaw. And you really don’t want to be forced into accepting a fatally flawed design because you’ve run out of time to go back and start over.
  4. Establish relationships and respect – people are more empathetic and kind when they know each other, and preferably even like each other. Invest in relationships on the team and you’ll avoid some conflicts caused by people just not taking the time to care about each other’s feelings.
  5. Write a Definition of Done – this is a formal, generic list of requirements that apply to all/most tasks. For example maybe “all code must have 70% unit test coverage, relevant documentation must be updated, the CI build must pass, and you must demo your work for your manager.” If any of these aren’t true, the PR should indicate that it is a work in progress, and it shouldn’t be allowed to be merged yet. This makes it clear the submitter is looking for early, broad feedback.

Submitting a Pull Request

Recognize that reviewing code is hard, and make it as easy as possible for your reviewers to give you useful feedback. Remember – you want them to find the problems with your PR. It saves your future self a bunch of headaches.

  1. Write a PR summary – include a brief explanation of the purpose of this PR. Link to the ticket this PR is addressing. If there’s anything odd in your solution, explain it. If there’s a reason you truly couldn’t write unit tests, give it.
  2. Add the right reviewers – don’t add your whole company. Maybe not even your whole team. Recognize that people will take time from their day to help you improve your code when you ask for their review. Just add the people who will give you the most useful feedback – perhaps the subject matter expert of the file you’re working on. Or the person who filed the bug you’re fixing. You will also likely need to add a senior developer who has the authority to accept your work.
  3. Accept the feedback – if someone provides feedback and you can’t articulate a good reason not to, just accept their suggestion. Make their requested change. This may require you to set aside a bit of the pride you have in the great work you’re submitting (and that pride is good!), but it’s not going to hurt anything to accept their suggestion, and you’ll avoid lots of unneeded conflict.

Reviewing a Pull Request

Keep these things in mind when you go to review a PR.

  1. This PR doesn’t need to be perfect. It needs to make the code better. Follow-up PRs are totally ok in many situations, as long as the current PR works correctly, and doesn’t impose an unreasonable maintenance or refactoring cost on others working in the same codebase.
  2. Start with the big picture – pull up the ticket for PR and confirm that this actually does what it’s supposed to. Does it actually work? Does it meet the Definition of Done? Is it clearly missing anything like unit tests? Provide this feedback early so that the submitted has time to rejig the whole PR if needed. There’s no sense in starting with identifying 20 typos (which the submitter may immediately start fixing) only to then suggest they take a completely different approach that will require them to throw all those fixes away anyways.
  3. Next look at the design – how have the classes been broken down? Are the components too big or have too many responsibilities? Do they define clear, testable boundaries? Provide this feedback using the verbiage of established engineering principles. “This design isn’t testable” is much less useful than “Using dependency injection here would allow you to mock out component X in your unit test”.
  4. Next review the “central class(es)” – identify the class that is the guts of the change, and start here. If there are 10 changed files in a PR, most likely only 2-3 of these contain the key logic, and the rest are helper classes or usages of the renamed API, etc. Focus your best effort on the most important classes while you still have the most energy and are providing the best feedback. Then circle back around to the other classes afterwards.
  5. Set a comment limit for yourself – It is difficult for the submitter to address 50 comments on a PR unless they are all trivial nitpicks and spelling errors. It’s also really discouraging to see that huge number of comments – it gives the impression of poor work and may really slow down the developer in future tasks.
  6. Consider in-person reviews for “bad” PRs – if there really are 50 significant flaws in the PR, take the review offline. As someone who can see these flaws, it is your responsibility to help the submitter learn. So sit down and go through the PR together, IRL. Be patient and compassionate, and don’t rush through it or make the submitter feel like they’re taking up your valuable time (even if they are). You are investing in your teammate – it will pay dividends.
  7. Consider in-person reviews for big PRs – sometimes a PR “blows up” and becomes a huge number of changes. In these cases it will likely be impossible (or unreasonably time-consuming) for a reviewer to figure out where to start. So do a group review, and have the submitter briefly present their work. The team can ask a few questions and get their bearings, and either do the full review together, or go back to separate desks and review online now that you have a better sense of what’s going on.
  8. Identify critical vs nitpicks – Be clear about which changes you think are unacceptable, and which are minor suggestions or opinions. These minor items can start with “Nit” as in “Nit: This might be clearer if you renamed this local variable to account instead of a. Also be clear if a comment is just a question, or if you’re unsure of whether your feedback is valid or not.

If They Always Make the Same “Mistakes”

Over time, you may want to give a teammate the same feedback on many PRs. This is where it becomes easy to be a jerk. Resist. Nobody wants to work with a jerk, and they certainly won’t be receptive to feedback if you treat them poorly.

  1. Remind yourself they are a professional – Nobody writes bad code on purpose. Nobody. Even that lazy sarcastic developer you don’t like for whatever reason doesn’t. So start by trying to help, and take the mindset that you are helping – not criticizing or “fixing” them.
  2. Ask yourself “is this my opinion?” – Just because you disagree with it doesn’t mean it was a mistake. Perhaps they have a valid reason for continuing with the pattern you don’t like, and perhaps that’s ok. You need to let other people win sometimes and recognize what is an opinion. There are many ways to solve all software problems, and we are constantly judging where to draw compromises. You may simply fall on opposite sides of the compromise here – if their code is functional and meets the agreements your team has set out then maybe you should just let it be and tolerate their alternative solution.
  3. Just talk about it – sometimes having a regular old human conversation about the problem will help them understand better why it even is a problem. Have the conversation at a time when they seem fresh and open to feedback, and do it in a place where they won’t feel embarrassed – don’t call them out in front of the whole team, or make them look or feel bad in front of their manager. Choose your first words carefully. “Hey I noticed something I think I can help with – do you have a second?” will be better received than “So you keep making this mistake – we need to talk about it”.
  4. Lead by example – people learn by copying each other. If you demonstrate the kind of thing you wish they were doing, they might just pick it up without you even having to confront them about it. This is also especially important if you do chat about it – make sure that you are on your extra best behaviour and demonstrate your expectations. They’ll be looking for a good example to help solidify the “right way”.

You can do it!

Reviewing code is a super important skill. It helps make your team’s code better, and makes your life better. You need to work and live with this code, so you’re making things easier for yourself by keeping a high bar in your code review. But you also need to be kind to your friends so they stay friends.

Hopefully these tips will help you be a better code reviewer! Good luck!

A Day in the Life of an iOS Developer

An iOS developer probably has a similar day to most other kinds of developers – it includes reading and writing code, discussions with teammates, and maybe some meetings. But what exactly does that look like?

Well here’s a rundown of a typical day for me (if I’m not working from home):

7:00 – Alarm goes off. Get up, eat breakfast and make coffee.

7:30 – Leave the house. Head to the train station and start the commute. I live pretty far from work, but taking the train allows me to make use of the travel time and avoid sitting in traffic. I also bicycle from the train station to my office, so I get some exercise in as well. While I’m on the train I read or write, or get an early start on my work for the day.

The Art of Cautious Self Improvement

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about self improvement. Some of this has been about creating better habits and making better or healthier decisions in my personal life, and most of this has been concentrating on work – how do I become a better developer, a better leader, a better professional.

But as I’ve been going through this, I’ve found that on the basis of aiming for self improvement, you first accept that there are things to be improved. And when you make this acknowledgement, not all the feelings that come out are positive, growth-y, or productive.

Starting Somewhere

My first instinct on self improvement is very literal – get better at something by educating myself and practicing that new skill.

So over the past year I spent time reading Robert Martin’s famous programming books: Clean Code, Clean Architecture, and The Clean Coder. These make up a portion of what Prentice Hall publishing calls “The Robert Martin Series” (clever naming pattern, eh).

And honestly, these books are fantastic resources, as advertised. Like, truly will make you better at your job, guaranteed.

The more I read these, the more I feel they are articulating a summary of critical feedback I’ve received over years of code review sessions, but packaged in an accessible and useful way!

The Dark Side

But there’s a downside to having these deep mysteries of the software universe articulated in such a way that they feel obvious.

Now that I’ve been exposed to the light and “know better” than to make the mistakes I made last year, I feel like following these rules should be as simple as reading them – and its not.

The Clean Coder is a book about being a “software professional” – not a technical programming book. So the arguments Martin makes are about how to differentiate between being a “good” employee/teammate/professional and being a “bad” employee/teammate/professional. How to make the optimal decision in a range of situations.

He makes it seem that there is a right and a wrong solution to every problem – like math, or software. A true professional finds that optimal solution, and executes it – and if you behave in any other way, you are being bad (at your job, or to other people).

I’ve found these lessons in The Clean Coder really hard to convert to real life in a constructive way.

And I think there’s a major piece missing in the book – the piece where you take the time to actually make these self-improvements.

Making Commitments – a study in failure

Martin devotes an entire chapter to the differentiation of estimates from commitments, for example.

He cautions that you should make sure that when asked for an estimate you make it clear that its an estimate, and then provide that estimate in the form of a probability distribution (it is an “estimate” after all). But “commitments” are different. It’s a powerful word, that should only be used sparingly and carefully.

“Professionals don’t make commitments unless they know they can achieve them

The cost of missing those commitments, to [colleagues and the business], and to your reputation, is enormous. Missing a commitment is an act of dishonestly only slightly less onerous than an over lie.”

Robert Martin, The Clean Coder

How are you supposed to read this and not feel like a dishonest professional, and a liar? I’m sure everyone can name countless times where they made “commitments” they’ve failed to follow through on, and I am no exception here.

Even after reading this chapter, and after making a big deal in a meeting about the difference between an estimate and a commitment, I still don’t have the hang of this – I failed to meet my very next commitment because an external force came up. But that was supposed to be the point of the “commitment” – you only commit when you’ve accounted for all those things”.

So what does this mean?

It’s ok

Well, honestly, I don’t think it means I’m unprofessional, or dishonest, or a liar (even though those feelings are super palpable and vivid). I think it means I’m recognizing this as a problem now, and opening the window to make the change in that behaviour. I’ve spotted it, in the wild, in its natural habitat (the infamous sprint planning meeting).

I think this recognition phase is where we need a little sprinkle of grace, and to allow oneself the opportunity to fail – a few times if necessary. Probably many times.

Applying the lessons from The Clean Coder requires us in some cases to break deep-seated habits, or fight our instinctive and emotional reactions. That’s super freaking hard. Especially when we’re under pressure, annoyed about something else, or over-tired.

So I’m not saying you shouldn’t read The Clean Coder – you absolutely should. It will make you better at your job, and a more professional software craftsperson.

But you shouldn’t expect to get to the end, mind-meld the information into your life and immediately be better.

Instead, take the lessons from this book, and give them prime real-estate in your brain. Then let them guide you in these situations, and point you in a direction that is better than you would’ve gone yesterday. Then do the same thing again the next day.

Over weeks and months, you will become a better employee/teammate/professional – just as long as you give yourself the chance to fail along the way.

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, folks.

The new year is a time for reflecting on how the last year has gone and how the next year might be better, and so like many of you I’ve set myself some goals.

These are goals that are supposed to help me improve some aspect of myself or my life, and by writing them here I hope to provide some inspiration for you, or at least some accountability for me.

These aren’t entirely programming-related, so this post diverges from what many of my other posts are about, but if you take a more holistic approach to work and life, you will already know that these things aren’t really separate. Your personal life and health affect your quality of work and your relationships with your colleagues, and vice-versa.

So here are my goals for 2019.

  1. Start each day with 30 mins of self-improvement.¬†The key rule is that this time isn’t spent on something for work. Instead, this can be one of: working out, reading, or writing.¬†Today I chose writing.
  2. Buy a house I love.¬†Toronto’s effing expensive, so this move will result in a pretty major change for us. We’re looking in Toronto’s nearest neighbouring city, Hamilton, Ontario – home of the Tiger Cats and Tim Horton’s.
  3. Buy a car I love.¬†We’ll need this when we move. We might be leaving the city but our friends and family aren’t. The car will help us keep those relationships healthy and strong, which is super important. Don’t under-value your support network.
  4. Read 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction books. I used to read all the time as a kid, but as I grew up I spent more and more of my time using technology, and less and less time reading. Since I finished school in 2014, I’ve only read a handful of books, and I think its making me dumber. So I’m getting my reading back on track this year.
  5. Be a mentor at work. I don’t intend to really¬†formally¬†start mentorship. At least not to the extent that some others I’ve seen online doing. But I want to spend more time helping other people learn and grow, just as other people helped me learn. I wouldn’t be where I am without their help, and I want to pass it along. But also, teaching is the best way to learn – if you can’t teach something do you really know it? So this goal helps others, and also myself.
  6. Lead Lunch & Learns at work. This relates to both of the previous two goals. I think a good way to start here is to present what I learn from reading. Specifically, I’ll start with something from one of Robert Martin’s books. In 2018 I read both Clean Architecture and The Clean Coder, and I find them both super inspiring and full of important lessons. So this is probably a good place to start.
  7. Write a daily agenda every day. Many people already do this, and to some extent I’m already accomplishing the cataloging of my work via our team’s daily standup. But sometimes I’m just not very good at remembering what I did yesterday when it comes to my turn, or staying focused on the one important thing I need to get done each day. So I think that I can improve this by writing in an agenda each morning. At the end of 2018 I started using¬†Agenda¬†for this, and that’s where I’ll be continuing with this as 2019 starts.
  8. Have a Regular Date Night. This is something I picked up from my own parents, but then more recently I was reminded of it listening to Rachel (& Dave) Hollis. Sometimes we’re insanely busy, and you can go weeks without spending quality time with the most important person in your life – your spouse. So this year we’re pre-scheduling date night and prioritizing it. Every Tuesday is blocked off for something together – maybe we go out for dinner, or just play a board game at home, but we commit to spending time focused on each other.
  9. Quit Scrolling. One of my friends did a masters thesis describing how smartphones affect your brain – as it turns out, the act of scrolling triggers the release of endorphins, and so you can be literally addicted to “getting a hit of” scrolling. And while I might learn a few important things here and there by scrolling, I also waste an exorbitant amount of time doing it. So no more.
  10. Build something for our new home. I love working with my hands and building things. This past year I built a shoe rack, which will be coming with us when we move. I started this project with a vision of what I wanted, but I didn’t yet have the skills to pull it off. In the process I learned how to weld, used new tools for the first time, and collaborated with friends and family to get it done. And I’m super happy with it! So this year I want to do something similar. I’m not sure what yet I’ll build yet, but probably something of a similar scope.
  11. Finish writing a draft of a book. This one is the most nebulous of my goals, mostly because I’m not sure if what I’m writing is really a book, or if it would be better as a series of blog articles. Getting a book in people’s hands is really hard, but writing a blog is easy (look at me go!). But in any case, the goal is to commit to a large-scale writing project.

So off we go! Here’s to a year of fulfillment and accomplishment.

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