I realize thatÂ mathematiciansÂ have a different definition of ‘refactoring’, but for software engineering types like me it means returning to old code in order to improve it. Â I was talking with Roxy the other day about a strategy I’ve been employing lately to get my ‘to do’ list under control.
The idea of refactoring came up because I’m always tweaking my process. Â I’m constantly looking for ways to do my work better, whether it’s projects I get paid for or the ones I don’t. Â Like a lot of people, I’ve got a ‘to do’ list that never seems to get shorter, though I’m constantly trying to cross items off of it. Â A typical scenario is that I have some time open in my schedule and instead of seeing beers Â and additional naps in my future, I start thinking about all the projects and chores I could complete. Â Usually, that means my list gets longer, instead of shorter. Â Still it’s exciting, at first, to imagine the feeling that I’ll have when I’ve completed some of those tasks.
Maybe you already know how this story goes. Â I start the day enthusiastic and end up tired and, if it’s a good day, I got a couple of things crossed off my list. Â If it’s a bad day, I’ve been over-confident about what I can do and end up feeling frustrated and crappy about myself. Â I always seem to underestimate how much energy the projects will take, especially as I get older. Â I’m still calculating my expected output based on how much I could do in my 30s, apparently. Â And sometimes what slows me down is not doing good project management, in other words, when I forget how much time it can take to make a parts run to a home improvement store. Â And there are always those unexpected tasks that come up regularly in a family of 4 living in the suburbs.
So what’s a Type-A, somewhat OCD, workaholic gonna do? Â Refactor my process, of course. Â My latest strategy has been to take 2 or 3 items from my list and assign them to myself each day. Â I started on Monday and the strategy has been pretty successful. Â I select tasks that give me a high rate of success. Â I’m not trying to martyr myself to my To Dos, I want to be successful. Â So there’s usually one task that will take some creative effort, one that’s a quick hit and if there’s a third, it’s something manual. Â At least that’s the strategy so far, don’t count on me not to refactor it again in the coming weeks.
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