Things Principles

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Kyle Gill, Software Engineer, Particl

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They don’t go in any particular order but helpful in both a job or in life:

  1. Write Things Down
  2. Simplify Things
  3. Measure Things

Why Things?

Things is intentionally vague/ambiguous because you can swap out all sorts of applicable “things” with it.

  • Write goals down
  • Simplify goals
  • Measure goals

  • Write tasks down
  • Simplify tasks
  • Measure tasks

  • Write code down
  • Simplify code
  • Measure code

  • Write your life down (in a journal, or take photos)
  • Simplify your life
  • Measure your life (link to Clayton Christensen)

I find that these 3 principles keep me from worrying too much about sophisticated, multi-step frameworks I’ve read about in productivity books or podcasts that operate on a sort of radioactive decay function in my brain.

Write Things Down

Computers have RAM and Storage, brains just have RAM. Memoize, cache, and persist the important bits so that you don’t have to calculate so much over and over.

It usually doesn’t matter where, but it helps if you can find it later (though that also is not always necessary). Sort of like a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush, a written word feels worth more than the spoken.

Simplify Things

The word is full of excess, and you really don’t need all that much to do good. Great things happen when you shed the weight of infinite maintenance. Software projects maintain features that will never be paid for by customers, and people maintain habits that will never pay dividends in their life.

Of all the things, not all are created equal, so purge that lesser for the better.

Measure things

Until you know what you’re measuring it can be hard to have direction. In software, it’s really easy to optimize for the wrong thing, and life is no different. If you don’t know what you’re measuring, you can’t know if you’re improving.

I’ve spent hours hacking away at cryptic suggestions in the Lighthouse dev console to get a 100 performance score for all of the 10 people that will ever visit it, when I probably should have paid attention to the latter number instead.

I’ve set goals like I want to read more, assuming that I’m improving until I actually count the days I read and realize it’s about the same as what I’ve always done.

Asking yourself what you’re measuring and then keying off of that gives you laser focus on the thing that actually matters and gives you leverage to give up other things that don’t matter.