Vox Pop

Development — Software, Personal, or Otherwise

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Making Time

A Valuable Commodity by the Seat of My Pants

For People Just Like You

This past month I became a father yet again. Mom and baby are doing fine and I am reminded that miracles happen every time I see her smile. However, after years establishing a work/life groove with my previous kids I find I'm right back in the developer nightmare of interrupted sleep and unpredictable schedules.

Scott Hanselman is a Microsoft developer and creator of the fantastic This Developer's Life podcast. He has an entertaining presentation available on his website called "It's not what you read, it's what you ignore". By reducing the amount of information that we consume Scott argues we create more time for things that really matter.

Webstock '12: Scott Hanselman - It's not what you read, it's what you ignore from Webstock on Vimeo.

But isn't being able to quote the top headlines from Techcrunch necessary for a successful tech career? Of course not. The dopamine hit from the constant drip of discovering something new is powerful. But whether that info hit comes in a tweet, rss feed, or status update the actual benefit is paltry compared to the amount of time required to find it. It is a hard concept to be disciplined about. I likebuilding collections of wearable electronics on Pinterest. But is it the best use of my (now more limited) time? No.

Leon Brambrick, of the site Secret Geek, also has an intriguing time-management-for-developers talk called "Coding while you Commute". In it, Leon demonstrates how the seemingly brutal conditions on a bus (it's noisy! no Internet! a literal hard stop!) are actually advantageous to getting things done. The constraints are actually tools for focusing effort.

I'm not getting any younger. And the web startup space, for right or for wrong, is the playground of the naive and time rich. If I'm going to avoid being shipped off to the enterprise software farm upstate I will have to master this new time management challenge.