« All Episodes

From Explicit to Implicit: When Our Mental Energy is Wasted

Published 9/28/2019

In today's episode we talk about moving some wasteful processes and systems from explicit to implicit.

Today's episode is sponsored by Bluemedora.

Upgrade your monitoring platform with BindPlane and unlock insights from all your on-prem, hybrid-cloud, and multi-cloud technologies. Get started today at Bluemedora.com/tea

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
In the last couple of episodes of Developer Tea, we've been talking about taking some of the implicit systems that our brain tries to give us as a favor and moving them to be more explicit, asking our brains to do a little bit more work. And the idea being that some of these implicit systems we don't really want to shortcut on. In today's episode, we're going to talk about the other direction. Because we do spend the extra energy that we don't necessarily need to spend, some things that we can offload to our more implicit systems. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea, and my goal in the show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. So what kinds of systems do we often treat as explicit that we could treat more implicitly? And how can we support ourselves? Because so much of the implicit things that we do, our brains kind of automatically did for us. So how can we trigger that automatic process? Well, interestingly, we can't necessarily trigger the automatic process or brain does that optimization for us and sometimes it's wrong and sometimes it's right. But we can build systems and these systems can help nudge things more towards implicit. So in today's episode, I want to give you two systems that I believe you can make more implicit and find some value out of. The first one is really straightforward. It's email. Email takes a lot of our time and it takes a lot of effort to manage. That is, if you treat it like most people treat it. Email is an always on mechanism. It's something that we check multiple times per day, sometimes multiple times per hour. And we also have a set of expectations around how quickly we should react or respond to a given email. And sometimes these expectations are set out by our company, our employer. Sometimes those expectations are set out by some kind of service level agreement, for example. But most of the time, we have a lot of flexibility in how we respond and when we respond to emails. And perhaps more importantly, we have the opportunity to set our own reading time. Then do you consume your emails? This is a question that I want you to ponder to consider. Do you consume your emails constantly? Do you check your email right when you wake up or before you go to bed? Are there times where you check your email multiple times, perhaps, without any new emails coming in? If you're like most people who work in some kind of technical field, the answer to all of these is probably yes or often. These are very common behaviors around email and unfortunately, they're also not very productive. They're not very valuable. As it turns out, email can be addictive. Because with email, we often get news. We get information, sometimes really valuable information, information that we appreciate that we're excited about. But most of the time, we don't get really much out of email at all. And so in many ways, we have adapted to email as a sort of slot machine. Most of the time, we don't win, but the few times that we have won is enough. It's enough to keep us coming back and still pulling down that lever. The problem is that with slot machines, well, the house is rigged to win. In other words, they're going to cost you more in the long run than you can actually make. It's the only way that slot machines would be viable. But when we treat email as a slot machine, really nobody wins. This is problematic because it takes away our incredibly valuable resource of time. So my tactical recommendation here is to view your email as something that you can put on a calendar, like any other event. Information having a meeting with your inbox. I highly recommend that you try to limit the number of notifications that you receive on your phone in general, but certainly limit the notifications that you receive from emails. If you are a manager or if you somehow kind of direct the policy of a giving company, encourage you to tell your employees that their email is not something that has to always be on. Much of the wasted energy that we spend in a given day is just managing our inboxes. We're going to take a quick break and talk about today's sponsor, Blue Madora. Then we're going to come back and talk about another system that we can move from explicit to implicit. Today's episode is sponsored by Blue Madora. With Blue Madora, you get monitoring integration unlocked. You can seamlessly stream metrics and locks from all of your on-premises, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud technologies to your favorite monitoring platform. You'll easily get access to metrics and locks on over 150 on-premises, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud technologies into your favorite monitoring tool, like Google Stackdriver, New Relic, Azure Monitor, Wavefront, DataDog, all of these tools that you're probably already using. Achieve a single pane of glass of your entire stack. You'll get frictionless integration and no more dealing with open source configuration and managing monitoring agents. Now, here's the great part. It is free, 100% free to install and upgrade your Google Stackdriver monitoring. You will only pay for the more metrics you stream reflected in your normal GCP bill, but you'll also get $200 of GCP credit. This can be combined with their free trial credits when you upgrade Stackdriver with bind plane and bluemodora.com slash t. That's bluemodora, M-E-D-O-R-A dot com slash t-E-A. Thanks again to BlueModora for sponsoring today's episode and Developer Tea. I want to talk about another explicit system that we can make implicit and hopefully come out with a better use of our energy. And the way we're going to talk about this is looking at your average week. Turn up your calendar and take a look at the meetings that you have. How many of these meetings are basically the same meetings you had last week or the week before? How many of them are recurring? Very often, the meetings that we have are either recurring or they have some similar format to a previous meeting. Yet we often labor over what agenda we should have. What of spending energy rebuilding the same agendas over and over? Encourage you to have a basic way of establishing meeting types. Imagine these are kind of like prototypes and by default, you're going to use these various meeting types and only spend energy establishing a new kind of agenda if it's necessary to depart from those meeting types. For every meeting type, have a predetermined agenda. Make it so that you can fill out a form almost and that will fill out your agenda for that meeting type. This accomplishes two goals. The first goal that accomplishes is it makes a lot of the important things that you care about a systematically included option. In other words, if you have certain values, either you personally or your company, you can improve your adherence to those values by having them automatically included in that agenda. This helps you avoid problems with simply having to remember to do a particular exercise, for example, in a given meeting. Because we are excellent pattern recognizers, when we rely on meeting types, we also have the opportunity to recognize previous patterns from meetings that were like this one. This helps us to be a little bit more efficient in a given meeting and hopefully adapt that meeting to become better and better over time. This gives us a better baseline to start from and ultimately improves our communication with each other in our meetings. Meetings end up wasting a lot of time if we just set them without thinking about it, without adding that extra bit of energy at front. But the interesting thing here is that by adding this energy initially, by creating these meeting types and setting up these prototypes of agendas, we don't have to do it again. This reduces the amount of energy that we spend doing it over and over. This may seem obvious to you, you may already have this practice in your company, but I encourage you to look at all of those meetings. Most people have only certain meetings, for example, client meetings that have a specific type and they're one-on-ones, may not have any agenda at all. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Bloom Madora, once again, head over to bloommadora.com slash T. That's bloommadora.com slash T-E-A to get started. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.