Mindless work.

Ever had a moment nothing seems to go well? Or a day where you don’t feel the need to do anything?

I guess we all have these moments from time to time. Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. It might overcome you at the wrong time or place but it’s not as worse as you think. Why do we have those moments? We are tired after a busy week or we had a rough weekend. Maybe it’s because someone said something wrong or you did something that causes trouble and now you’re afraid of doing something else.

In fact, all of the above reasons don’t matter. The point is to fill this time as effective as possible. If you are tired, it’s better to take a nap and continue your work the next day. At first, it will look like some time wasted but you will see that you might as well gain some time. When you are tired, your brain will not be creative or able to think fast enough. The consequence is that you spend more time on your work without delivering more quality. Sometimes when you’re brain is tired, you will not feel the need to go get a nap. What to do then? That is the perfect time to do some mindless work like scanning all your paper notes or cleaning your desk. Maybe you have some slumbering tasks you postponed for a couple of weeks? This is the perfect time to get rid of those. Performing those little tasks will free your mind and provide you with some positive energy to continue the rest of the day.

How do you manage the moments you’re tired? Let me know in the comments!

Having a stand-up at work?

At work, we started implementing Agile Development two years ago. Until a couple of months ago we used a Scrum implementation, but now we are changing this to Kanban. In this period a lot has changed but our stand-up always had his place. But is the stand-up a useful ceremony? Some say it is a waste of time but others think it is a gift. My idea is that a good stand-up can really make you better as a team. It is a quick and easy way to get an overview of who is working on what topic. Are you stuck? Just ask for help in this short meeting so that the project can move on.
It is true that you should ask for help whenever you need it. But this ‘forum’ is a great way to avoid asking help to the same people over and over. It is an opportunity for the team to manage themselves.

So as you can see, there are several reasons for having a regular stand-up. Why are there still people that don’t see the advantages of this ceremony? Probably because stand-ups can get out of hand pretty quick. Someone who keeps talking, discussions, people are not interested or arrive late. Those are all things that can be avoided with some simple rules. The article 10 Tips for a Great Daily Scrum Meeting provides a nice set of rules that you can apply. First of all everyone should use the same format when they tell wat they are doing:

” Yesterday, I completed…
Today, I will…
The things blocking my progress are…”

But the most important rule to me is “Start and end the meeting on time”. If you wait for someone, you will notice that focus will be lost. People will be watching the clock, because they have meetings or should get back to their work. People that are late should be punished for being so. Waiting for them will only cause more delays in the coming weeks since people think that is no problem. So when you are late, apologize and don’t ask to repeat what was said.

Having trouble to keep your Daily Scrum short and focussed? Try this tip: Let’s Save that Discussion for the Sixteenth Minute. We still use this from time to time.

People are like angry wolves.

People are like angry wolves

When was the last time you helped someone? When was the last time you helped someone without fearing he would return the next day with the same question?

People always want more and they want it quicker. When someone asks me to help him, I always intend to do so. Just because it is in my nature, as is with many people.
That is a good thing, I think. They thank me for helping them out and it only took me 15 minutes to make him happy. Yes, I did it. Back to my own work.
The next day is passing by and there he is: ”You did a great job yesterday, can you help me out with something else?” What do you answer? Happy to be appreciated you accept to help so: ”What can I do for you?”
What do you think the guy will ask next? Well it’s simple, he will ask the same as before but two times as difficult and of course in the same timespan. That is not what I wanted. Can I still get out, or should I just make the best of it and be smarter next time? Most of us will take the second choice and go for it. But they will keep in mind this lesson. Next time someone asks to help, they will ask something in return. They will ask for something to make up for the time they lost.
Time lost for helping someone else? Yes, indeed. People will feel it that way. It is a human reaction. Some of us will resist and continue to help people without return. Is it wrong to ask something in return? No! Is it wrong to ask someone for help? No! What to do then? When I ask something I try to help the other person as much as possible with my own question. I’ll try to provide them something in return. I will ask if he can show me how I can do it myself. So people are like angry wolves. They will distrust someone who asks for help, they will always ask for more but eventually they will live together and sort it out.
I will continue to help other people. Do you?


What can you do about it?

  • Be respectful when you reach out for help by engaging yourself. You ask for help, you are not delegating tasks.
  • Continue to help people by explaining how they can do it themselves.