It is almost the end of January, but I believe it is still a good time to make some New Year’s resolutions. Today I want to describe one of mine, which I believe could be a good fit for many of us.

As you know, it is very simple to make resolutions but much harder to fulfill them. So before I reveal it, let me tell you why I believe I will keep it:

  • it is not hard to do,
  • no special equipment/weather/mood required,
  • doesn’t take much time
  • requires only a little bit of preparation
  • I have heard many people saying it is a very valuable habit
and last but not least:
  • I have first started doing it and I already like it (and only later decided to make it my resolution – usually first you take a resolution and then you start).

And the resolution itself is very, very simple: I decided to perform a short (5-10 minutes) retrospective of my work achievements each week. Have I done what I promised (to myself or to others)? Have I worked on really important stuff or maybe I spent my time doing 2nd rate stuff? Have I started new tasks without closing the older ones? And so on.

In order to be able to do that, I take notes every day before leaving the office: few bullet points with major things I have been busy with. Then, on Fridays (I set up a reminder so I don’t forget it) I go through the notes from the last wee and ask myself questions. And then I write down some TODOs – like “do X – don’t wait any longer” – but also I praise myself – e.g. “good job with Y!”.

After three weeks I already have few observations and ideas:
  • Maybe Monday would be better, so my TODO list was kind of fresh and I would be able to jump into the action without waiting for the weekend to pass.
  • Why only work achievements? Why not introduce the same idea to my family life?
  • A week is kind of long, at least in some cases. Wouldn’t it be better to have it twice a week or daily to shorten the feedback loop? I’m not sure.
  • I do not have a good way of reminding me about the TODOs I created during the review. A sticker on the monitor doesn’t work for me – somehow after an hour it is like I don’t notice it anymore. Maybe I should set up a reminder for this as well so e.g. every day I got reminded about things I decided to do?
  • I have already been able to achieve some small victories (e.g. doing some stuff I have been putting off for weeks…) so I can say it works for me. So I plan to continue.
There is still time to change this year into something more valuable. Why don’t you give a try to this self-retro idea? I hope it helps you.

Cheers!

Few months ago I published a list of books that I really, really wanted to read in 2015. 2015 is finished so I can now tell you how it went.

…and there isn’t much I can be proud of. Out of the 14 books I read.. well… around 3. Not exactly 3 because in fact I read 2 books and also halves of another 2 books. At first I was really disappointed when I realized this. But after some thinking, it doesn’t look so bad any more.

  • The list was published end of May 2015, which gave me only 7 month and not the whole year. Still the 3/14 ratio sucks big time.
  • I have read few books outside the list. Apparently, new topics (e.g. user stories) got my attention in 2015 and I decided to devote more time to them .
  • I have read numerous blog posts and watched many online presentations. It seems much easier to read/watch them than read a book. You can read a blog post during a short break but you can’t (or at least I can’t) read a book like this.
  • The books on my list were mostly about “background” stuff – things which aren’t urgent but crucial in the long term (think Eisenhower method important and not-urgent tasks). It is OK I haven’t read them all as long as I go back and pick one from time to time.

Now, what has it thought me?

  • Long list of books “to read in the nearest future” doesn’t work. I still have a list of “books I want to read one day” (and it is always growing and rarely shrinking) but I do not fool myself into thinking that I will eventually read all of them.
  • Sometimes reading a book is a waste of time – it is enough to read what others have learned from it (at this point it is hard not to mention Pierre Bayard’s “How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read”)
  • I have very limited time for reading books. I should pick them wisely so I do not waste it.

I will end my today’s mumblings with the quote of Stanisław Lem:

“No one reads;

if someone does read, he doesn’t understand;

if he understands, he immediately forgets.”

Enjoy reading, folks! 🙂

One year ago I blogged about a game we played during retrospecitve. A year has passed and it was time to open this “time-capsule”. No one guessed the right answer to all 13 questions, but some people were pretty close on many of them. Some questions got kind of outdated – e.g. we asked about the number of traffic-handling servers but in the meantime this functionality was split in two.

We liked the idea so this year we played it once again. The questions were similar to the previous ones but we tweaked them a little bit. Also, we invited our account managers to join the fun so the number of players grew to 14 (last year it was devs-only event, and there was only 9 of us).

P.S. Some people decided it would be fun to play it at company level so we prepared 5 questions and played the “New Year Predictions game” together. Will see what 2016 brings!