Jake Worth

Week in Review: Week 16, 2021

April 23, 20212 min read

Opening Thought

“Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.” —Paul Arden

Consistency

Was I consistent at my core habits this week? How can I tweak them to be more consistent or more useful?

My notes are a mess. I try to maintain:

  • A bullet journal
  • A five-minute journal
  • An engineering daybook
  • Two separate laptops with separate Mac Notes
  • This blog
  • My TIL repo

I’d rather have too many notes, I suppose. But my system needs pruning.

Mistakes

What did I do this week that was a mistake and how can I avoid repeating it?

This week I felt distracted on a call. Multitasking doesn’t work on calls because they’re so much listening. You have to give those audio cues your full attention.

Comparative Advantage

How much of this week did I spend on stuff that was truly my comparative advantage? For everything else, how can I get out of the loop?

I’m TIL-ing again! Check out https://github.com/jwworth/til for the latest. Documenting small wins has been a constant in my career. I’m thrilled to be doing it again.

I’ve gotten adept at searching Slack. With Slack you have years, depending on your team’s plan, of messages at your fingertips. With CMD + K I can review code and ideas from everyone who has ever worked on my team. There are many questions I can answer myself.

I was stuck on a problem this week, and I adopted a mentality: “these are my questions.” When stuck, one approach is to try to ask great questions, and build on the answers.

  • “Can anyone else reproduce this?”
  • “Is this happening on other browsers?”
  • “What do people expect from this feature?”

This curiosity comes to me easily when pairing, but it’s harder to summon it when I’m alone. It helped me get unstuck and solve the problem.

I’ve installed Vimium on every browser that I use, even in Private/Incognito. Vimium’s HKJL are directional commands, and F puts a one or two-letter home-row hotkey on everything clickable on a page. Taking a break from the mouse is a welcome relief.

Finally, I did something this week that I would not have done even a few years ago: cold-emailed a vendor asking for help with their product. It turned into an incredible conversation; we closed a handful of bugs with a one-line change. In consulting, deeply learning how a payment provider works isn’t always worth your client’s time. But on a product team, that extra increment of expertise on some random library can save the day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help– if something in a dependency doesn’t make sense, if it isn’t your fault, speak up.

Action Items

  • Remind myself to focus on calls. No multi-tasking.

Thanks for reading.


Blog of Jake Worth, software engineer in Maine.

© 2021 Jake Worth.