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403: Productivity Tricks

Stephanie is engrossed in Kent Beck's Substack newsletter, which she appreciates for its "working thoughts" format. Unlike traditional media that undergo rigorous editing, Kent's content is more of a work-in-progress, focusing on thought processes and evolving ideas. Joël has been putting a lot of thought into various tools and techniques and realized that they all fall under one umbrella term: analysis.From there, Stephanie and Joël discuss all the productivity tricks they like to use in their daily workflows. Do you have some Keyboard Shortcuts you like? Are you an Alfred wizard? What are some tools or mindsets around productivity that make YOUR life better?Transcript:AD:Ruby developers, The Rocky Mountain Ruby Conference returns to Boulder, Colorado, on October 5th and 6th. Join us for two days of insightful talks from experienced Ruby developers and plenty of opportunities to connect with your Ruby community. But that's not all. Nestled on the edge of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, Boulder is a haven for outdoor lovers of all stripes. Take a break from coding. Come learn and enjoy at the conference and explore the charm of Downtown Boulder: eclectic shops, first-class restaurants and bars, and incredible street art everywhere. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and the many microbrew pubs that Boulder has to offer. Grab your tickets now at rockymtnruby.dev and be a part of the 2023 Rocky Mountain Ruby Conference. That's rockymtnruby.dev, October 5th and 6th in Boulder. See you there.JOËL: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Joël Quenneville.STEPHANIE: And I'm Stephanie Minn. And together, we're here to share a bit of what we've learned along the way.JOËL: So, Stephanie, what's new in your world?STEPHANIE: So, I have a new piece of content that I'm consuming lately. That is Kent Beck's Substack [chuckles], Kent Beck of Agile Manifesto and Extreme Programming notoriety. I have been really enjoying this trend of independent content creation in the newsletter format lately, and I subscribe to a lot of newsletters for things outside of work as well. I've been using an RSS feed to like, keep track of all of the dispatches I'm following in that way so that it also kind of keeps out of my inbox. And it's purely just for when I'm in an internet-reading kind of mood. But I subscribed to Kent's Substack. Most of his content is behind a subscription. And I've been really enjoying it because he treats it as a place for a lot of his working thoughts, kind of a space that he uses to explore topics that could be whole books. But he is still in the phase of kind of, like, thinking them through and, like, integrating, you know, different things he's learning, and acknowledging that, like, yeah, like, not all of these ideas are fully fleshed, but they are still worth publishing for people who might be interested in kind of his thought process or where his head is at. And I think that is really cool and very different from just, like, other types of content I consume, where there has been, like, a lot of, especially more traditional media, where there has been, like, more editing involved and a lot of time and effort to reach a final product. And I'm curious about this, like I mentioned, trend towards a little less polished and people just publishing things as they're working through them and acknowledging that the way they're thinking about things can change over time.JOËL: It sounds like this is kind of halfway between a book which has gone through a lot of editing and, you know, a tweet thread, which is pure stream of consciousness.STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's a really great insight, actually. And I think that might be my sweet spot in terms of things I enjoy consuming or reading because I like that room for change and that there is a bit of a, you know, community aspect to Substack where you can comment on posts. But, at least in my experience, has seemed, like, relatively healthy because it is, you know, you're kind of with a community of people who are at least invested or willing to pay [chuckles] for the content. So, there is some amount of good faith involved. His newsletter title itself it's called "Tidy First?" And so, that almost implies that it's, like, something he's still exploring or experimenting with, which I think is really cool. It's not like a I have discovered, like, the perfect way to do things, and, you know, you must always tidy first before you do your software development. He's kind of in the position of, this is what I think works, and this is my space for continuing to refine this idea.JOËL: I'm curious: are there any sort of articles that you've read or just thoughts in general that you've seen from Kent that are particularly impactful or memorable to you?STEPHANIE: Yeah. One I read today during my investment time is called Accountability in Software Development. And it was a very interesting take on the idea of accountability, not necessarily, like, when it's forced by others or external forces like a manager or, you know, your organization, but when it comes from yourself. And he describes it as a way to feel comfortable and confident in the work that he's doing and also building trust in himself and in his work but also in his teams.By being transparent and literally accounting for the things that he's doing and sharing them, communicating them publicly, that almost ends up diminishing any kind of, like, distrust, or shame, or any of those weird kind of squishy things that can happen when you hide those things or, like, hide what you're doing. It becomes a way to foster the good parts of working with other people but not in a necessarily like, resentful way or in a hierarchical way. I was really interested in the idea of accountability, ultimately, like, for yourself, and then that ends up just propagating to the team.JOËL: That's a really interesting topic because I think it sort of sits at the intersection of the personal and the technical.STEPHANIE: Yeah, absolutely. He mentions more technical strategies or tasks that kind of do the same thing. You know, he mentions test-driven development, as well as, like, a way of holding yourself accountable to writing software that, you know, doesn't have bugs in it. So, I think that it can be applied to, you know, exactly both of those, like, interpersonal stuff and also technical aspects too, anyway, that's what's new in my world. Joël, what about you?JOËL: So, this year, I've been putting a lot of thought into a variety of tools and processes. And I think I've come to the realization that they all really fall under one kind of umbrella term, and that would be analysis. It's a common step in some definitions of the traditional software development lifecycle. And it's where you try to after you've kind of gathered the requirements, try to break them down and understand what exactly that means from a technical perspective, what needs to happen. And so, a lot of the things that have been really fascinating to me this year have been different techniques that I can use to become better at that sort of phase.STEPHANIE: Wow. That's very powerful, I think. And honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is, how do you make time for it?JOËL: I think we all do it to a certain extent. You know, you pick up a ticket, and there is a prose description of some work to be done, hopefully not telling you directly, like, just go make a change to this class, but here's a business problem to be solved. And then you have to sort of figure out how to break it down. So, this can be as simple as, oh, what objects, what classes do I need to introduce for this change? But it might be more subtle in terms of thinking, okay, well, what are the edge cases I need to think about? Where are things that could fail, and how am I going to handle failure? So, there's a variety of techniques that you can use to get better at all of these. You can use them kind of at the micro level when thinking about just a ticket. You can use them when working on a larger epic, a larger initiative, a whole project because I think analysis fits into kind of all of these levels. And so, I think those are the techniques that have been most exciting to me this year and that have really connected.STEPHANIE: That is very exciting. It's triggering a lot of thoughts for me about how I incorporate analysis into my work and how that has actually evolved; where I think before, earlier in my career, I assumed that the analysis had been done by someone else who knew better than me or who knew more than me. And that by the time that you know, a piece of work kind of landed in my lap, I was like, okay, well, I just want to know what to do, right? Like, I want someone else to tell me what to do [laughs]. But now I think I have taken it upon myself to do more of that and, like, have realized that it's part of my role. And sometimes it will now be kind of a flag or, like, a signal to me when that hasn't been done. And I can tell when I receive a ticket, and it's, like, maybe missing the business problem or doesn't have enough information. And determining whether that is information that I need to go and find out, or if there's someone else who I can work together with to do that analysis with, or having a better understanding of, like, what is within my realm of analysis to do, and what I need to encourage other people to do analysis for before the work is ready for me.JOËL: I think there is an interesting distinction between more traditional requirements gathering and analysis, where traditional requirements gathering is getting all that business problem information from product people, from customers, things like that. The analysis step is often a little bit more about breaking down a business problem into, like, what are the technical ramifications of that? But there can be a little of a synergy there where sometimes, once you start exploring the technical side of it, it might bring up a lot of edge cases that have impacts on the product side, on the business side. And then you have to go back to the businesspeople and say, "Hey, we only talked about sort of the happy path. What happens if payment is declined? What do we want to do there?" And now we're back in sort of that requirements gathering phase a little bit more rather than purely analysis. But it can come out of an analysis phase where you've done maybe some state machine diagramming to try to better understand how things flow from one phase to another. Or maybe you were building out a truth table for some complex logic and realized, wait a minute, there's an edge case I didn't handle. It's not a strictly linear process. The two kind of feed into each other and, honestly, into the implementation side as well.STEPHANIE: Yeah, I'm with you there. I'm thinking about a piece of work that I've been working on, where we were thinking of doing a database migration and adding some new columns to a table. But the more I dug into it, the more I realized that that was the first idea or the immediate idea that came from a need that I had limited information about. And what was nice was I was able to sit on it for a little bit, get some input from others. And I realized that there were all of these things that I couldn't answer yet.And someone, I think literally asked in a code review if you've already done this analysis, between knowing that these columns will be the kind of extent of what you need versus, you know, will the data end up needing more columns? And should the data model be a little more flexible to that potential change? And they said, "If you had already done this analysis, then, like, otherwise, it looks good to me." And I was like, "Oh, I didn't." [laughs]And that encouraged me to go back to some cross-functional members of the team and ask more questions. And that has taken more time. That was another challenge that I had to encounter was saying like, "Yeah, we started this, and we made some progress. But actually, we need to revisit a few things, like a few parts of the premise, before continuing on."JOËL: Are there any techniques or approaches that you particularly enjoy when it comes to doing an analysis or that maybe are go-to's for you?STEPHANIE: Reminding myself to revisit my assumptions [laughs], or at least even starting by being really clear about what I'm assuming, right? Because I think that has to happen first before you can even revisit them is having an awareness of what assumptions you're making. And I actually think this is where collaboration has been really helpful, where I've been working on this task with another developer on my team. And when we've been talking about it, I found myself saying, "Oh, I'm assuming this," right? Or, like, I'm assuming that the stakeholder knows what they need [laughs]. And that's why we're going to do it this way, where we were kind of given the pieces of data that we should be persisting. And the more that we had that conversation, the more I realized, like, actually, like, I'm not convinced that they have that full picture of, like, what they need in the future. And because we're making this decision now, like, we are turning, you know, literally from, like, the abstract into, like, a concrete change [chuckles] in the database, now seems like...now that we're faced with that decision, it seems like a good time to revisit the assumption that I was making. And that has proved helpful in making ultimately, like, a more informed decision about, like, which way to go technically. But I personally have found a lot of value in verbally processing it with someone else. It's a lot harder for me to identify them, I think, when I'm in my own head.JOËL: That's really interesting that you keyed in on the idea of assumptions. I typically think of assumptions being, like, so important mostly in debugging rather than analysis. In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about why listing your assumptions is so important as part of your debugging process. Now, like, my mind is spinning a little bit. I'm like, oh, I wonder if I could use some of those, like, debugging techniques as part of more of my analysis step. And could that make me better? So, I think you've put me on a whole, like, thought track of, like, oh, how many of these debugging techniques can I use to make my analysis better? So, that's really cool.STEPHANIE: Yeah, and vice versa. So, a few minutes ago, I'd asked you how you make time for that analysis. Because I was thinking that, you know, in my day-to-day work, I'm juggling so many things. I often find myself running out of time and not able to do all of it. And that, I think, leads us really well into our topic for this episode, which is productivity tricks and ways that we make the most use out of our limited time.JOËL: I think I may have a maybe a bit of a controversial opinion on productivity tricks. I feel like a lot of productivity tricks don't actually make me that much faster. Like, maybe I save a couple of minutes a day, maybe 5 or 10 a day with productivity tricks. And, sure, that adds up over the course of a year. But there are other things I could do in terms of, like, maybe better habits, better managing of my schedule that probably have a much more significant impact. Where I think they are incredibly valuable, though, is not directly making me better with my time management but managing my focus, allowing me to kind of keep in the flow and get things done without getting sidetracked. Or just kind of giving me the things that I need in the moment that I need them so that I'm not getting on to a subtask that I don't really need to be doing.STEPHANIE: Yeah. I really like that reframing of what helps you focus because as I was brainstorming ways that I stay on track for my work, I think I ended up discovering a similar theme where it wasn't so much, like, little snippets and tools for me, as opposed to how I structure all of the noise, I guess, in my day-to-day work and being able to see what it is that I need to care about the most right now.JOËL: I think one of the things that I've tried to do for myself is to make it easy to have access to the information and the tools that I need. Probably one of the most useful bits of that is a combination of the documentation viewer Dash and the...I'm not sure what it would be called– launcher, productivity manager tool for Mac. Alfred, with a CMD + Space, it brings up this bar I can type into. And then you can trigger all sorts of things from there. And so I can type the name of a language or some kind of keyword that I have set up and the name of a method. And then, all of a sudden, it'll show me everything like, you know, top five results. And I can hit Enter, and it will bring up the documentation for that. So, if I want to say, oh yeah, what is the order of the arguments for Enumerable's inject method (which I constantly forget)? You know, it's a few keyboard shortcuts, you know, CMD + Space Ruby Enumerable inject. It's fuzzy finding, so I probably don't even need to type all of that. Hit Enter, and I have the documentation right in front of me. So, that makes it so that I can get access to that with very little amount of context shifting.STEPHANIE: Yeah. I like what you said about how the tools are really helping you, like, narrow down, like, the views of, like, what is most important for you in that moment, and it's doing a little bit of that work for you. I think the couple of tools and apps that I actually did want to share are kind of similar. One MacOS app I really like is called Rectangle for windows management, which is really crucial for me because I don't enjoy like, swiping and tabbing between applications. I would much prefer just seeing, usually, just two things. I try to keep my screen limited to two different windows at once because once it gets more than that, I'm already just, like, overwhelmed [laughs]. And as I'm trying to focus a little bit more on just having, like, one thing be the focus of my attention at a time, Rectangle has been really nice in just really quickly being able to do my windows resizing. So, I usually have, like, either things split between my screen half and half. Like, right now, I have your face on my screen as we record this podcast, and then my notes editing software for taking notes about what we talk about. During my development workflow, it's usually, you know, just my editor, my terminal, and then maybe my browser ends up being, like, the thing that I tab into. But I'm able to just, like, set that all up, and as I need those windows to change depending on what my focus has been shifted to, to kind of make more space for whatever I'm reading, or looking at, or processing visually. The keyboard shortcuts that Rectangle...that I have now, you know, ingrained into my fingers [laughs] has been really helpful. It's like, I'm not fussing with just, like, too many things open.JOËL: I have yet to, like, dive into a window manager. I'm still in the clunky world of CMD tabbing. But maybe I should give that a try. STEPHANIE: For me, it has helped even just, like, identify the things that I need to give more space to on my screen and aggressively, like, cut everything else [laughs]. So, that's a really great MacOS app. And then, the other one is actually kind of a similar vein. It's called Meeter, M-E-E-T-E-R. And it has been really helpful for managing my meetings, especially my video call meetings where the video call software that's being used for the meeting may be variable. And also, when I have multiple email addresses that meetings are being sent to, you're able to sign into all of your calendar accounts. And it provides a really nice view of all of your meetings. It has a really, like, minimal, I guess, design in your toolbar, where it shows you how many minutes until your next meeting. And from that toolbar button, you can click to go to the video conferencing software directly for whatever meeting is up next. And you don't have to, you know, scramble to open Google Meet, or Zoom, or Webex, or whatever it is. And that's [chuckles] been nice, again, just kind of, like, cutting down on the amount of stuff that I need to remember and shift through to get to my destination.JOËL: I think I'm hearing kind of two themes emerge out of some of the things that we've shared. And I'd like to maybe explore them a little bit; one is the power of keyboard shortcuts. And I think that's maybe what a lot of us think of when we think of productivity apps, at least developers, right? We love keyboard shortcuts. And then, secondly, I think I'm hearing automation, right? So, you don't have to go through and, like, find that email or calendar link to find the Zoom link or whatever. It shows up in your toolbar. So, maybe we can dig into a little bit of the idea of keyboard shortcuts. Are you a person who like customizes a lot of keyboard shortcuts? And is that a part of your kind of productivity setup?STEPHANIE: Well, a while ago, we had talked about not keyboard shortcuts in the context of productivity, but I think I had mentioned that I was trying to use my mouse less [chuckles] because I was getting a little bit of wrist pain. And I think that actually has rolled into a little bit of, you know, just, like, more efficient navigation on my computer. I think my keyboard shortcut usage is mostly around window management, like I mentioned. I do feel like I have, like, a medium amount of efficiency in my editor. Sometimes, when I'm pairing with other people who use Vim, I'm, like, shook by how fast they're moving. And I have figured out what works for me in VS Code, and I don't think I need to get any faster. You know, I've just accepted that [laughs]. In fact, it's almost, like, the amount of speed and friction that I have, in my experience, is actually a little more beneficial for the speed that my mind works [laughs]. It kind of helps me slow down when I need to think about what I'm doing as opposed to just, like, being able to, like, do anything at my fingertips, and kind of my brain is just not able to think that fast. And then navigating Slack, which is where I also spend a lot of my time on my computer. Now, using Slack with my keyboard shortcuts has been really helpful because, again, I'm not, like, mindlessly browsing or clicking around. I'm just looking at my unread messages. One non-keyboard shortcut I really like with Slack is Command + K, which is the jump-to feature. And so, I'm using that to go to a specific channel that I know I'm looking for or my own personal DMs, where I keep a lot of notes as well. And, honestly, I think that's, like, the extent of my keyboard shortcut usage. I'm curious what your setup is in regards to that, though.JOËL: I think I'm similar to you in that I have not kind of maxed out the productivity around keyboard shortcuts. You'd mentioned the jump to in Slack. Several pieces of software have something kind of like that. It might be some sort of omnibar, or a command palette, or something like that, where you really just need to know...CMD + K, or CMD + P, CTRL + P are common ones. Then you can sort of, like, type a few characters to just describe the thing you want to do, or a search you want to make, or something like that. Just knowing that one keyboard shortcut for your one piece of software gets you, I don't know, 80% of the productivity that you want. It's kind of amazing. I love the idea of an omnibar.STEPHANIE: Yeah, I hadn't heard of omnibar as a phrase before, but that feels very accurate. I like that a lot, too, where it's, like, oftentimes, I don't do whatever particular thing enough necessarily for it to justify a keyboard shortcut, for me at least. I'm still able to be fast enough to get to, like I said, that final destination or the action that I want to take with a more universal shortcut like that.JOËL: In my editor...so I use Vim, and I got used to Vim's keyboard-based navigation. And that is something that I deeply appreciate, maybe not so much for speed but being able to almost kind of feel one with the machine. And the cursor moves around, and I don't have to, like, think about moving it. It's really a magical sort of feeling. And it's become so much muscle memory now that I can just sort of...the cursor jumps around, things change out. And I'm not, like, constantly thinking about it to the point where now, if I'm in any other editor, I really want to get those shortcuts or, I guess, maybe not shortcuts but a Vim-style navigation, keyboard-based navigation.STEPHANIE: Yeah, it sounds like it's not so much the time savings but the power that you have or the control that you have over your tools.JOËL: Yes. And I think, again, the idea of focus. Navigation has stopped becoming a thing where I have to actively think about it. And I feel like I really do just sort of think my fingers are on the keyboard. I'm not having to, like, do a physical motion where I switch my hands. Like, I'm typing, and I'm writing code, then I have to switch my hand away to a mouse to shift around or, like, move my hand off the home row to, like, find the arrow keys and, like, move around. I just kind of think, and the cursor jumps up. It's great.Maybe I'd be the same if I'd put a lot of time into getting really good at, you know, maybe arrow-based navigation. I still think the mouse you have to move your hand off. It breaks just in the tiniest little way the flow. So, for me, I really appreciate being fully keyboard-based when I'm writing code.STEPHANIE: Right. Being one with the keyboard. As you were talking about that, I very viscerally felt, you know, when you encounter a new piece of technology, and you're trying to navigate it for the first time, and you're like, wow, like, that takes so much mental overhead that it's, you know, just completely disruptive to the goal that you're trying to achieve with the software itself.JOËL: Yeah, it is a steep learning curve. So, we've talked about custom keyboard shortcuts in the editor. But it's common for people to augment their editor with plugins, maybe even some kind of, like, snippet manager to maybe expand snippets or to paste common pieces in. Is that something that you've done in your editor setup? I think you said you use VS Code as your sort of daily editor.STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's right. I actually think I almost forgot about some of my little bits of automation because they are just so spelled for me [laughs] that I don't have to think about them. But you prompting me just now reminded me that there are a few that I'd like to shut out. Snippets-wise, I mostly use them for when I'm writing tests and just having the it blocks or the context blocks expand out for me so I don't have to do any of that typing of the setup there. And since I do use a terminal outside of my editor...I know that some people really like kind of having that integrated and being able to run tests even faster without having to switch to a different application, but I like having them separate. There is a really great plugin called Go to Spec where you can be in any, you know, application code file, and it will pull up the spec file for you. I've been really enjoying that, and that is what helps my test writing be a little more automated, even though I'm having it in separate applications.JOËL: That is really useful. So, as a Vim user, I also have a plugin that does something similar, where I can switch to what's considered the alternate for a particular file, which is typically the spec, or if I'm in the spec, it'll switch to the source file that the spec is testing.STEPHANIE: And then, I do have one really silly one, which is that I got so sick and tired of not remembering how to, you know, type the symbols for string interpolation in Ruby that has also become a snippet where the hash key and the [inaudible 28:48] brackets can [laughs] populate it for me.JOËL: I love it. So, Stephanie, I'd like to go back to something you were talking about earlier in the show. When you were sharing about what was new in your world and, you mentioned that you subscribe to the Substack and that you subscribe to, actually, a lot of newsletters, and you said something that really caught my attention. You were saying that you don't want these all cluttering up your email inbox. And instead, you send all of these to an RSS reader application. What kind of application do you like to use?STEPHANIE: I use Feedbin for this. And I actually think that this was recommended by Chris Toomey back in the day on a previous Bike Shed episode before you and I hosted the show. But that has been really awesome. It has a just, like, randomly generated email address you can use when you sign up for newsletters. You use that instead. And I really like having that distinction because I honestly treat my email inbox as a bit of a to-do list, where I am archiving or deleting a lot of stuff. And then the things that remain in my inbox are things that I need to either respond to, or do, or get back to in some way. And then yeah, when I've completed it, then that's when I archive or delete. But now that we do have all this great content back in email form, I needed a separate space for that, where I similarly kind of treat it as, like, a to-read list. And yeah, like, I look at my unreads in the newsletter RSS reader that I'm using and go through that when I'm in a blog-reading kind of mood.JOËL: I really like that separation because I'm kind of like you. I treat my inbox as a to-do list. And it's hard to have newsletters come in and, like, I'm not ready to read them. But I don't want them in my to-do, or, like, they'll just kind of sit there and get mixed in and maybe, like, filtered down to the bottom. So, having that explicit separation to say, hey, here's the place I go to when I am in a reading mood, then I can read things. I think there's also I've sort of trained myself to only check my email during certain times. So, for example, I will not check my work email outside of working hours. But if I'm on the subway going somewhere and I've got some time where I could do some reading, it would probably be a good thing to be going through some kind of newsletter or something like that. So, I either have to remember to go back to it, or what I tend to do is just scroll Twitter and hope that someone has shared that link, and then I read it there, which is not a particularly effective way of doing things. So, I might try the RSS feed reader tool. What was it called?STEPHANIE: Feedbin.JOËL: Feedbin. All right, I might try to get into that.STEPHANIE: Yeah, I look forward to hearing if that ends up working for you because I agree, having the two separate spaces has been really helpful because I don't want to get distracted by my email/to-do list inbox if I'm just wanting to do a bit of reading, enjoy some content. So, one more theme around productivity that I don't think we've quite mentioned yet, but maybe we've talked a little bit around, is the idea that it's, at least for me, it's a product of time and energy. So, even if you have all the time in the world, you know, you can just stare into space or, like, stare at a line of code and not get [laughs] anything done. JOËL: I know the feeling.STEPHANIE: Right? I am kind of curious how or if you have any techniques for managing that aspect. When your focus is low like, how can you kind of get that back so that you can get back to doing your tasks or getting what you need to do done?JOËL: If I have the time, taking a break is a really powerful thing, particularly taking a break and doing something physical. So, if I can go outside and take a walk around the block, that's really helpful. And if I need a shorter thing that can be done in, like, five minutes or something, I have a pull-up bar set up in my place. So, I'll just go up and do a few sets there and get a little bit of the heart rate slightly up, do a little bit of blood pumping. And that sometimes can help reset a little bit.STEPHANIE: Nice. Yes, I'm all for doing something else [chuckles]. Even when you know that this is a priority or is kind of urgent or whatever, but you just can't get yourself to do it, I've found that asking myself the question, "What would make this task easier for me right now?" has been helpful during those moments. And, for me, that might be grabbing a friend, like, maybe I'm blocked because I'm really just unmotivated. But having someone along can kind of inject some of that energy for me. And then, there's a really great blog post by a woman named Mandy Brown. It's called Energy Makes Time. And she talks about how doing the things that fill our cup, actually, you know, even though it seems like how could we possibly have time to be creative, or, like you said, maybe do something physical, those seem, like, lower on the priority list.But when you kind of get to the point where you just feel so overwhelmed and can't do anything else, and you just go do those things that you know feel good for you, you kind of come back with a renewed perspective on your to-do list. And you can see, like, what things actually aren't that critical and can be taken off. Or you just find that you have the capacity or the energy to get the things that you are really dreading out of the way. So, that has been really helpful when I just am feeling blocked. Instead of, like, feeling bad about how unproductive [chuckles] I'm being, I take that as a sign of an opportunity to do something else that might set me up for success later.JOËL: Yeah. I think oftentimes, it's easy to think of productivity in terms of, like, how can I maybe eliminate some tasks that are not high value through clever automation, or keyboard shortcuts, or things like that? But oftentimes, it can be more about just sort of managing your focus, managing your energy. And by doing that, you might have a much higher impact on both how productive you feel—because that's an important thing as well, in terms of motivation—and, you know, how productive you actually are at getting things done.STEPHANIE: Right. At least for me, like, not all TDM is bad and needs to be automated away, but, like, my ability to, like, handle it in the moment. Whereas yeah, sometimes maybe I've just run the same few lines that should be just a script [chuckles], that should just be, you know, one command, enough times that I'm like, oh, like, I can't even do this anymore because of just, like, other things going on. But other times, like, it's really not a big deal for me to just, you know, run a few extra commands. And, like, that is perfectly fine.JOËL: I love writing a good Vim macro. Yeah. So, it's important to think beyond just the fun tools and the code that we can write. Kind of think a little bit more at that energy and that mental level. That said, there are a ton of great tools out there. We've named-dropped a bunch of them in this episode. For our listeners who are wondering or who weren't, like, necessarily taking notes, we've linked all of them in the show notes: bikeshed.fm. You can find them there.STEPHANIE: On that note, shall we wrap up?JOËL: Let's wrap up. STEPHANIE: Show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm.JOËL: This show has been produced and edited by Mandy Moore.STEPHANIE: If you enjoyed listening, one really easy way to support the show is to leave us a quick rating or even a review in iTunes. It really helps other folks find the show.JOËL: If you have any feedback for this or any of our other episodes, you can reach us @_bikeshed, or you can reach me @joelquen on Twitter. STEPHANIE: Or reach both of us at [email protected] via email.JOËL: Thanks so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week. ALL: Byeeeeee!!!!ANNOUNCER: This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot, your expert strategy, design, development, and product management partner. We bring digital products from idea to success and teach you how because we care. Learn more at thoughtbot.com. September 26th, 2023 37 mins 49 secs Transcript Link with Timestamp Download MP3 (41.2 MB) A clean, simple landing page with an embedded HTML5 audio player (and audio cards for Twitter and Facebook).Paste this code to embed an HTML5 audio player with controls.Useful if you want to create a direct download link, embed in your own player, post from another publishing engine, link to from Patreon, etc.'



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403: Productivity Tricks

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