Over on fs.blog, an article discussing how Efficiency is the Enemy. It’s got some solid observations, mostly gleaned from a book on the subject by Tom DeMarco called Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency. For instance:
It’s possible to make an organization more efficient without making it better. That’s what happens when you drive out slack. It’s also possible to make an organization a little less efficient and improve it enormously. In order to do that, you need to reintroduce enough slack to allow the organization to breathe, reinvent itself, and make necessary change.Tom DeMarco
There’s been some articles already that talk about the idea of leaving room for flexibility and inspiration in creative endeavors, but I do think it applies to other kinds of work as well. The urge for “efficiency” I feel like is driven by the same Puritan-work-ethic mentality that loads up children with hours of homework every night – namely, that idleness is inherently wasteful, rather than an essential part of healthy productivity and learning.
Over at CSS Tricks, Sarah Drasner has a nice article going over some productivity tips (in particular if you’re the type of person who likes to have a lot of projects happening at once). For instance:
Push outside of your comfort zone, but slowly
Work on a few things that you know and understand, and a few things you don’t. We should foster personal growth in our projects, but without some semblance of comfort, it’s easy to get discouraged. Let your projects push the limits of your boundaries, but don’t go overboard. Give yourself a foundation to spring off before floating into space.
William Van Hecke has an evolving article discussing their approach to productivity called Megaquest. The name may sound a little silly, but the concept is a good one. Read the article for details, but the gist is to have a large, long term goal (intentionally abstracted into a perfect moment or period of time) that informs the other work you take on. That jives with my own views on broader goals, and feels good to have some validation from others who’ve come to the same conclusion.
In particular, I really needed to hear this:
The moment can be specific or fuzzy. You might already have an idea of the details you want to realize, or you might just know the kind of things you want to have in place later in your life. The megaquest can come in and out of focus as your situation and your values shift. But it should always give you something distant and meaningful to hang quests on.
You might not get the moment. Plenty of things won’t go as expected. Plans will change. Your ideas about what you really want will change. Some variables might never fit perfectly into place. The moment is, in fact, a macguffin — a catchy plot device to keep you moving toward putting everything in its place. So the secret, which you shouldn’t think about too hard, is that it doesn’t really matter if you get it. What matters is that the more earnestly you pursue a truly perfect moment, the more you put everything in its place, the more nearly perfect moments you’ll have along the way.
I’ve been feeling kind of aimless lately, and struggling to figure out whether my idea of who and how and where I want to be is still what I want. It may be that I never actually get to that exact moment, falling into sync with myself in an Ohayō moment, and expecting to do so is unreasonable. At its core, it still feels like a good moment to strive for, but are some of the surrounding details changing? Maybe. I need to do some long thinks, I’d say. But maybe that’s okay.
Chris over at CSS Tricks, telling it like it is:
But what is highly prized in our industry is productivity, in whatever form it takes.
“Hey, I refactored some of our mixins to be more efficient and made sure they are used properly site-wide.”
“Good morning, I looked over a lot of the copy around the site and have some ideas on what we can change to make it more clear and cohesive.”
“This afternoon I closed out a couple of long-standing bugs that have been bothering me.”
Any place I’ve ever worked, any of these things would have been applauded. Especially if they relate to the current team/project at hand. That’s what productivity is.
That’s too bad, since you are being productive anyway. You’re following your mood.
Chris Coyier, Mood Driven Development