« All Episodes

How the First Guideline Changes Your Behavior Drastically

Published 3/1/2017

In today's episode, we talk about how even the first guideline can make a MASSIVE difference in your behavior.

Today's episode is brought to you by Linode. Linode Provides superfast SSD based Linux servers in the cloud starting at $10 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)
Hey everyone, welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode we're talking about the value of the first guideline. Every once in a while at Whiteboard we gather around for a birthday celebration. Recently we celebrated a birthday and a lot of times this happens in the morning and we have breakfast and on this particular morning we gather around and had pancakes. And while I very much enjoy pancakes I decided to turn them down because I'm on a different diet. I have a specific diet that I'm following and one of the developers at Whiteboard looked at me and said, it's amazing how much of a difference even one rule can make. And I was taken back by this very simple concept and what he was saying was that his diet because he has no rules, whatever he sees he generally is, he kind of makes the decision at that moment of whether or not he wants to make that thing a part of his diet for the day and it's usually not based on anything other than a gut instinct or maybe his taste at that moment, his hunger level at that moment. And we talked about this a little bit and I think it's a really interesting insight. And that's why I wanted to share with you on today's episode. The value of the first guideline or you can think of this as the value of the first analysis. And there's a lot of things that we do as developers and we do them kind of without analyzing them. Right? We pick an editor and then we don't really analyze whether or not that editor is the best editor for us today. And what this can lead to is stagnation. But the moment that you have a single guideline in place, the moment you create a single rule, the moment that you add one moment of thinking, one question to your process, a very simple thing happens. And we're going to talk about what that simple thing is and why it's so effective to have just that first rule. You know, the difference between one rule and two is significantly smaller than having no rules and one rule. Right? The jump is massive. The effect on your behavior, the effect on your decisions when you have a single guideline in place is massive. Why is that? Well, we'll talk about why in just a moment right after we talk about today's awesome sponsor, Lynneau. If you heard me talk about Lynneau before, I want you to listen up a little bit extra careful because Lynneau is changing their offering and it's going to be better for you. It used to be that Lynneau's plans start at $10 a month, but they have a $5 plan for a one gigabyte server. This is plenty for most of your side projects, by the way. A gigabyte of RAM is what we're talking about. They have a $5 plan. That's what their plans start at now for a one gigabyte server. They have high memory plans starting at 16 gigabytes for $60 a month, 16 gigabytes server, 16 gigabytes of RAM on your server for $60 a month. They're also introducing an upgrade for those of you who bought into Lynneau already at the $10 a month tier. You know that they offer two gigabytes of RAM, which is once again far more than most of our projects need on a regular basis. They're upgrading the storage from 24 gigabytes to 30 gigabytes. That's SSD storage, by the way. At this point, their RAM offerings across all of their plans are double what most of the competitors offer at the same price. Go and check out what Lynneau has to offer. Remember, Lynneau is basically Lynneux in the cloud. The simplicity of it is also the brilliance of it. Pretty much everything that you could want to do with the server, you can do on Lynneau. You have native SSD storage, the 40 gigabit internal network, Intel E5 processors. These are things that you probably heard before on the show. But once again, it's getting cheaper and it's getting more accessible and more powerful for you as the end user. Of course, as always, you can get a server up and running in just a few minutes. And now their plans started only $5 a month. That's $60 a year. That's very cheap. On top of that, you can get a $20 credit when you use the promo code Developer Tea2017. That's all one more Developer Tea 2017. Just head over to spec.fm slash Lynneau and learn a little bit more about what Lynneau has to offer to you as a Developer Tealistener. By the way, that would put you on a one gigabyte server for $40 for the next year. That's incredibly, incredibly affordable, especially for those of you who do not have a personal site, for example, one gigabyte server, one gigabyte to RAM on your server is more than enough for your personal personal site. If you are not doing something like a blog or even if you just have a simple portfolio up, this is a perfect way to invest in that little bit of branding for yourself. Go and check it out. It's spec.fm slash Lynneau. Thank you again, Lynneau, for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So we're talking about what the value of the first guideline is. The value of that very first rule that you institute for a given decision. So I discussed my diet decisions. If you have a very simple question that you ask yourself before you eat something, right? In a moment, we'll talk about other other scenarios where this applies. But if you quite simply ask yourself, do I really want to eat that? Or does that really, is that really going to satisfy my craving today? If you ask yourself that simple rule, what you're doing, this is the effective part of what is happening. This is the jump that's happening that makes the first one so important. And the second one less important than the first, you're taking this decision out of your subconscious decision making. In other words, you're kind of off the cuff or without analyzing this quick decision making. You're taking it out of that and running it through your slower thinking. You're running it through your more analyzing brain. The thing that informs what you do. So think about it this way. If you originate a thought, if you have a simple analysis that creates a judgment call, so me looking at those pancakes and analyzing whether or not they fit my diet, something I've decided to follow. And when I recognize that they didn't fit my diet, now I have an original kind of instruction, right? This is something that's created in my, in the thinking part of my brain, the conscious thinking part of my brain. I've created an instruction for myself that otherwise wouldn't be there. And if I didn't have that instruction, then the decision that I make is not going to be informed by my thinking, not going to be informed by analysis or by a longer term understanding of what I want, but rather by a shorter term, more gut instinct or perhaps something that is built up by experience. So I've had pancakes before. I know that I like the taste. And so therefore, I'm just going to eat the pancake, right? This is not something that we really have to think about for a very long time, because it's kind of the lowest barrier, the easiest thing to do is to just trust our experience or trust that very first thought the pancake sounds good to me. Now, I know we've talked about diet quite a bit on the show. Part of the reason is because everyone experiences eating decisions, right? We all have to eat something. But this applies to so many other areas of our life as a developer, obviously, this applies to the types of tools we use. It applies to even the momentary or the moment-to-moment decision we make in our code. For example, we talk about naming on the show a lot. In fact, in the last episode, we talked about the difficulty of naming and folklore in your code. A very simple guideline that can take you from writing really terrible code to pretty decent code is around this naming structure. So you can ask yourself the simple question, does this variable name or does this function name? Does this name that I've chosen communicate well? If you ask yourself that one question, the quality of your code is going to increase dramatically. You don't have to learn all the design patterns in the world to make a big jump in the quality of your code. You're instituting a very simple one step guideline. The reason for this is because instead of just writing out kind of your stream of consciousness or stream of unconscious way of thinking about the code, you're now asking yourself a meta question about the design of the code. Where the implicit guideline was, does this code work? Does this code accomplish something that I wanted to accomplish? But the explicit question that you're now instructing yourself to pay attention to, this explicit guideline is not only does the code need to function, but it must also communicate well. And the implicit thing, obviously you're not going to stop writing the code until it's actually working because then it's not really valuable at all. The implicit decision for me was I need to eat food at some point today. And the explicit decision, the explicit thing that I had to instruct myself to do was follow the particular diet. So there are tons of these little small guidelines that you can put in place. And you can think about them ahead of time and put them in place so that even the most simple decisions can run through your thinking brain. So spending money, for example, if you ask yourself a simple question like, do I really need to spend my money on this thing? Rather than just kind of spending money whenever you feel like it, now you have a way of thinking about the money you spend and the jump that you're making from your unconscious or your your simple decision making to your analytical decision making, you're going to see massive, massive effects by simply putting that very first guideline in place. Now, I don't want to miscommunicate putting these guidelines in place and asking the right question, having the right guideline in place is not easy. It requires some work. It requires more mental energy. It is a decision. So it's going to cause faster decision fatigue if you have a guideline for every single thing that you're trying to do in a day. But for the things that matter, for the things that are affecting your life significantly, it's important that you actually have these guidelines. It's going to change the way you think, change the way you act, because you're moving your instruction away from your unconscious thinking into your conscious thinking. And that's where you can actually get things done. This where you can be productive and change, affect change in your own life. And change is important. Progress is important. It's important that you cultivate your ability to analyze your decisions. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you. Of course, to Leonard who is upgrading their plans for you, you can now get a gigabyte for a $5 a month plan. And by the way, you're going to get four months, by the way. Four months worth of credit on that one gigabyte plan for free if you use the code Developer Tea2017. That's an entire season. That's like a quarter of, it's more than a quarter of the year. So go and check out what Leno'd has to offer to you as a developer and a listener of Developer Tea. Spectat FM slash Leno. Thank you again to Leno for sponsoring today's episode. Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this discussion on the thinking part of our brain, moving our actions to be informed by some level of analysis. And I hope you'll start putting in guidelines. I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on Twitter at at Developer Tea and at jcatrall. That's jcutr.l. And if you have questions or comments, you can email me at Developer Tea at gmail.com. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. And until next time, enjoy your tea.