Nicholas Tietz-Sokolsky
Runner. Coffee nerd. Software engineer.

Kill the crunch time heroics

Crunch time has an allure: it feels like if you just push hard enough, you can get more done. You can push hard and get that next release done on time, get those new features out, earn more revenue for your company. Engineers are under immense pressure to deliver more and do it now, and we also feel special: we feel unique, like we are not subject to the fatigue that others experience, or that this project is different and we can do it even when exhausted.

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Avoid multitasking to write better code

Multitasking is incredibly alluring. Why go slowly, doing one thing at a time, if you could get a second thing done? Why not fill those five seconds while your code compiles with reading an article about the latest web frameworks?

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Distractions Cause Bad Code

We are barraged by constant distractions, and they are degrading the quality of our work. Our digital society now is set up to allow us to focus for mere minutes at a time, since we are in an attention economy and the sole objective of companies is to capture more of our time. Facebook, Google, and Snapchat are all incentivized to get us to look at our phones many times a day.

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Don't Disrupt Things; Fix Them

People talk about disrupting industries when those industries appear to be in a stable but inefficient state. For example, the taxicab industry: there was little innovation going on in it, and it was stable, but it seemed like it was far from ideal. Along came Uber, intent to disrupt the industry - and disrupt it they did.

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Even bad estimates are valuable if you use them right

Estimating software projects is hard, if not impossible. This seems likely to be fundamental to the work, because we’re inventing new things and invention doesn’t happen on a fixed schedule. And yet, many teams still estimate how long their tasks will take to finish. Why should you do this, if you can’t do it accurately? You do it because it can help you reach your real goal of solving a problem as quickly as possible. But when you do it, you need to have really solid processes around estimating, or the estimates will be used and abused and can kill your team.

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