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3 Lessons of Productivity

Published 8/2/2017

Today's episode is brought to you by Linode. Linode Provides superfast SSD based Linux servers in the cloud starting at $5 a month. Linode is offering Developer Tea listeners $20 worth of credit if you use the code DEVELOPERTEA2017 at checkout. Head over to spec.fm/linode to learn more about what Linode has to offer to Developer Tea listeners !

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
I've done a lot of these episodes. I've actually done over 400 episodes now. And even though I'm not an expert at podcasting, I certainly wasn't an expert when I started and I wouldn't consider myself an expert at podcasting now, I have learned a few lessons and specifically I've learned lessons about productivity. And part of the reason that I feel like this is important for me to share is because so many people who listen to this show, you came here to learn about how to be productive as a developer and not just, you know, hacky ways of being productive, but truly understanding psychology and understanding, you know, as a developer, how to integrate the tools around you, for example, into your daily work. And we're going to talk a little bit from a higher level about three things that I've learned, three lessons of productivity that I've learned from recording over 400 episodes of Developer Tea. And that is what you're listening to today. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. This show is called Developer Tea. If this is your first episode, I would highly recommend that you go back and listen to some of the back catalog. We've covered so many topics now. We've covered topics that really apply to developers at all stages in their career, but also people who are not developers at all. Maybe you are working in the digital landscape, maybe you're a designer or perhaps you're a UX strategist or maybe you own a company or maybe you don't work in any kind of digital environment. Maybe you, we've had people like bank tellers right into the show, for example. So I highly recommend you check out the back catalog if this is your first episode, but I do want to talk about some of these lessons that I've learned. I'm going to start with kind of the big lesson that I've learned. And then we're going to do the other two after we talk about today's sponsor. So the first, the first lesson of productivity and one that I want to pass on to you is possibly one of the most important lessons about productivity that you could ever learn. And it is very simple, do not base your productivity on your emotions. In other words, do not base how you perceive about your productivity. Do not base that on your emotional state. Now, this is incredibly hard to do. This is very, very hard to do. One of the things that defines productivity for Developer Tea is delivering on schedule. In other words, delivering three episodes per week. Now, there's a few exceptions to this rule. For example, when Liam, my son, arrived, we had a couple of episodes that we took off. Sometimes we take off a few episodes around holidays. But all in all, we plan to deliver three episodes per week. We found that that's relatively sustainable. Even when I have a lot of stuff going on, I can sustain, I can see out in advance. I can do things to prepare for that scheduling. And so this is part of what it means to be productive for Developer Tea. And sometimes, sometimes I don't like the ideas that I talk about on this show when I initially have them. Let me just say that one more time. Sometimes I have an idea to record an episode for the show. And initially, I don't really think it's very good. And it's only after I force myself to sit in front of a notepad, or you guys know about this ritual that I have. I go and I work out. I have kind of a 30 minute physical routine and then I hop in the shower. And then I don't leave until I have an idea. Sometimes I walk out away from that idea, feeling like it's really not very good. And it's not until after I've recorded that episode. It's not until after I've gone through the process of figuring out what it is that I want to say about this topic. It's not until after that that I actually feel productive. But the reality is that entire process is productive, right? And my feelings really don't have anything to do with whether or not I was being productive. That word productive comes from the word produce. Am I producing something? Am I actually producing some kind of output? And a lot of times on the other end, something that I totally thought was going to be a horrible idea or that I wouldn't be able to flesh out into multiple angles of looking at that idea. A lot of times I walk away from that episode. And it's one of my favorite episodes. This concept also applies to, for example, if you are working at an agency, maybe you work for clients or you work for a product team as a developer. There's a bunch of options here to fill in the blank, but you work as a developer in a company and you feel less productive because of some outside pressure. Maybe you feel less productive because you see someone else being more productive than you. Perhaps you feel this pressure, this emotional weight to do more than really you can sustainably do. And this is kind of a difficult subject to approach because we don't want to encourage laziness on the show. I don't want to encourage that you work only when you feel like it, for example. Sometimes you're not going to feel like it, but still the best thing that you can do that day is get up and go to work. Do whatever work it is that you have in front of you to do. Highly encourage you to continue developing a strong work ethic, sometimes working through, feeling not very much like working that day because of this very reason. It is much better for you to maintain consistency, maintain a regular rhythm than fall prey to your emotional state as the determining factor in deciding whether or not you're productive. All right. I want you to hear me very clearly here. I'm not saying that your emotions don't matter. I'm not saying that you should never take a day off. I'm not saying that you should never take a vacation. What I am saying is that your productivity should not be determined by your emotional state. And those emotions can come in many different forms. You may feel unproductive because you feel guilty. You may feel unproductive because you feel insecure. You may feel unproductive because you feel frustrated or unhappy or perhaps you feel tired. There's tons of emotional and physiological things that can be happening to you that make you feel unproductive. But those have no direct bearing on whether or not you are being productive. All right. This is kind of a difficult thing to grasp because very often, you know, those things are correlated, right? If you don't feel very good, then you may not be very productive that day. But the reason you aren't productive that day is not necessarily because of your emotional state. You can separate these two things out and you can actually be productive. For example, in my scenario, I can be productive even though I don't think my idea is very good. I can still be productive and walk away having accomplished something even though, you know, my emotional state said that I should stop or that it wasn't really worth doing. So that's the first lesson, the first lesson of productivity. And really it comes down to kind of this working stoicism, right? Some people may call it grit. I don't really love that word and I can't really put my finger on why I don't love that word for this specific concept. But the idea of consistency, the idea of maintaining consistency, maintaining sustained and predictable effort, right? This is what is important. So that is the first lesson, do not base your productivity on your emotions. We're going to talk about today's sponsor and then I'm going to give you two more lessons of productivity that I've learned in over 400 episodes of this podcast. Today's episode is sponsored by one of our favorite sponsors. They sponsored quite a few of those 400 episodes. It's a Lynn Ode. Lynn Ode has eight data centers in their plan start at just $5 a month, $5 a month for one gigabyte of RAM. That is so, so little money in the grand scheme of things, right? So they have high memory plans. They start at 16 gigs for $60 a month and you can get an upgrade and storage from 24 to 30 gigabytes on the two gigabyte memory plan for $10 a month. You can get a server running in under a minute on-linear and they have hourly billing with a monthly cap on all their plans and add-on services. They have backups, node balancers, long view. These are all things that Lynn Ode has provided for quite a long time now, very successfully and many of you developer to listeners, you've already checked out Lynn Ode. I encourage you if you've been holding out because you don't want a $10 a month plan, that was the old product plan or the old pricing tiers that they had. They've added this new $5 a month plan. It's a fantastic deal for developers who want to kind of put their foot in the door. If you want to put up a personal server for your own personal projects and you're not really going to get a lot of traffic to that server, well, you can get started with that $5 a month. And on top of that, Lynn Ode is providing you $20 worth of credit for just being a developer to listener. It's $20 worth of credit. That's four months, essentially, for free. So go and check it out. It's native SSD storage, by the way. So it's really fast. They have a 40 gigabit internal network. So if you end up having multiple servers, they can talk to each other very quickly inside of that internal network. So get started today by going to spec.fm slash Lynn Ode. That's spec.fm slash Lynn Ode. And you can get that $20 worth of credit. Make sure you use the code Developer Tea2017 at checkout to get that credit added to your account. Thank you again to Lynn Ode for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So we're talking about these lessons of productivity that I've learned after creating over 400 podcast episodes. This first one is kind of a soft lesson. It's not really going to be a productivity hack by any means. And that was not to base your productivity on your emotions. And this takes a lot of work. A lot of effort. It's not going to be easy. But to try to separate your emotions, try to separate your consistency of work away from your emotions. The second lesson that I've learned is to always pair your idealistic or your value-driven goals with a simple goal of progress. Always pair your idealistic, your value-driven goals with a simple goal of progress. So what does this mean? Well, it means that when you have a goal, when you have something that you want to do, let's say, for example, for me, recording a podcast, really the true goal that I have is to help developers just like you who are listening to the show become better in their careers. That's the kind of the big ethereal goal. Now, how do I actually get there? How can I actually take that idea and apply it? Well, I chose to create a podcast as one way of helping developers become better in their careers. There's many ways that I could go about doing that, but I chose to create a podcast. So now I have an avenue that I can take action on. I have a space that I can work in in order to accomplish this bigger ethereal goal of helping developers become better in their careers. So this big goal I can pair with a very simple and straightforward goal, which is produce three episodes per week. This goal is entirely about progress. Progress means going from having something not done to having something done. That's the simple definition of progress that I'm going to use in today's episode. Going from not having something done to having something done, and you create this very simple attachment to your value-driven goals and you can measure whether or not you are productive by testing against that progress goal. If you're making no progress at all, then your value-driven goals are not really goals. They're just values. I want to help developers become better in their careers, but if I'm not doing anything about it, if I'm not making progress, if I'm not actually taking action at all, then that's only something that really exists in my head or you might say it exists in my heart. This is an idea that I really attach myself to, but it's not driving me to do anything. That's why you have to always pair your value-driven statements, these values that you have, and connect them to some kind of tangible progress, some kind of tangible output, something that you can measure and say, yes, I did that thing or no, I failed to do that thing. That is the second lesson of productivity that I've learned. It can be a very simple progress-driven goal. Let's say you want to be a lifetime learner, a lifelong learner, and this is something that a lot of Developer They have in common. You want to be a lifelong learner. What you can do is set yourself up for a progress goal like I would like to read at least one book per week, or whatever actually fits your sustainable pathway to accomplishing that value-driven goal. If you want to be a lifelong learner, then set a progress goal for yourself that you can reasonably accomplish on a regular basis. That's lesson number two. Lesson number three, understand your fundamentals. Understand your fundamentals. One of the things I want to do with this show is create many different types of media for developer T-listeners to consume. Instead of just being developer T-listeners, you can also be developer T-watchers. This is something that I've actively been working on. I've been trying to make some videos. Quite honestly, I've run into some hurdles that I don't have with podcasting. I've run into hurdles in creating other media types that make them a little bit more difficult to produce today than the podcast. But the reality is, if I were to stray away from the podcast at least today, then I'm not serving the developer T-listeners that I already do have. In that way, the podcast is in that core set of fundamentals for Developer Tea. As a developer, I have multiple languages that I may consider my fundamentals. I have different actions, different areas of the company that I work in, that I would consider my fundamentals. I am a writer, so I consider writing part of the fundamental skill set that I have personally. There's a set of fundamental things that you already have carrying you along. You need to know what those things are. Because when you understand your fundamentals and you really become an expert or at least you pursue excellence in those fundamentals, eventually what you're going to find is that you're able to create margin for yourself because you're extremely good at a few things. You have those fundamentals down. You're able to create margin for yourself because you're able to do things a little bit faster or a little bit higher quality. You can sell those things for a little bit higher price. There's a litany of reasons why you're able to create margin if you become excellent in those fundamentals. What you can do with that margin is start to explore those other opportunities. To adopt things like new skills into your skill set. Once you've mastered your fundamentals, you can start to explore new opportunities that can give you a leg up into the future. That's lesson number three. Lesson number three again is understand your fundamentals. I hope you've enjoyed these three lessons in productivity. They're not your average lessons in productivity. Some people will give you a lesson like you need to wake up earlier or you need to set yourself on some kind of diet regimen or maybe an exercise regimen or you need to read a certain set of books over the course of the next few months. The people who are saying those things, they may absolutely work for you. In fact, some of that stuff works for me. What I want to focus on on this show and what I want you to focus on when you're listening to this show is kind of that bigger picture and the psychology side of things, how you should be thinking about productivity, how you should be thinking about where productivity fits in your career. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I hope you found it challenging and exciting. I'd love for you to take this concept and talk about it with the people around you. If you work in a company, for example, have a lunch with another one of your coworkers or maybe your boss or if you are a manager, someone that you are a manager over and talk to them about these ideas. Talk to them about how they are making their work tangible, how they're making their goals, their goals attached to a progress, a specific measurable way of determining progress on that goal, on that value. That's what I want you to do with this podcast. I want you to take it and talk to someone else about these ideas. Talk to someone else about how they see productivity fitting versus their emotions and how emotions has an interplay with their productivity. These are important topics and I hope that you can take it and expand on it in your own life. I certainly am not the master of productivity and all of this is just lessons that I've learned for myself and I hope that they are useful to you as well. Thank you again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode. Remember you can get $20 worth of credit by going to spec.fm slash Linode. Make sure you use the code Developer Tea 2017. Add checkout. Thanks again for listening. If you're enjoying this episode and you don't want to miss out on future episodes, go and subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. Until next time, enjoy your tea.