Life is overwhelming at times. For instance, my entire week I’ve been mentally preparing for a rehearsal dinner on Friday and a wedding out of town on Saturday, and how to juggle that with three kids, and the inevitable complications that arise when you ask children to sleep in unfamiliar spaces. It has… shall we say, consumed my thoughts. If you combine that with the current goings-on at Stack Overflow, it’s easy to get caught up and not get any work done. If I’m being honest, my mind is also awash with the fact that the Nationals won NLDS game 5 last night in the 10th inning with a grand-slam from Howie Kendrick to make it 7-3, after being down 3-0 when I went to bed in the 4th inning.
But what about today?
Today, I dive into Entity Framework in a hybrid code-first / locked-down change management scenario and build new functionality around email sending. I’ve scoped the problem down to something I can get done today.
It’s freeing in a way. I know that for the next several hours, the only thing I need to think about is that task before me. By the end of today, it will be done. Everything else, as they say, will keep.
TFS and JIRA don’t help in this regard. If you look at the ‘board’ (if you’re doing Scrum or Kanban), you see what’s in the sprint backlog. You see what’s coming up, and you know that no matter what you get done today, there’s more after it. You can see it. It’s ever-present. It doesn’t allow you to focus on what’s important — the right now. It is always in “sprint” view, showing you your work in relation to everything else the team needs to get done this sprint.
If you’re at work, you’re probably thinking about that right now — why am I reading this blog post when I have this story to finish?
While our tools have failed us, there’s something we can do to combat it. This has helped me when I’ve made a conscious effort to allow it to.
I make a deal with myself.
Forget about what you didn’t do yesterday. Forget about what you need to do tomorrow. And for just a few hours, forget about your todo list outside of the work. For the next few hours, you have one thing to do. That next thing. Whatever it is. Focus on that, and shut the rest of it out of your mind. Just for a few hours. It’s the only thing that matters — for the moment. The rest of it will keep.