Look at what you did
If you are running a business or planning to build one you might have noticed the generic tendency of “looking ahead”.
Along the lines of:
My Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is satisfying but I am already planning the next steps.
We need to change out stack on the back end because there’s this new thing that is magic.
Our marketing uses old channels, there’s new ones that everybody is talking about.
Looking ahead is natural, we do it most of the time when we walk. And yet I learned a precious lesson this summer.
We were planning to sow the lawn and we needed to dig furrows for the pipes of the irrigation plant. It was a lot of work. Like two full days of shovelling. The gardener showed us a quotation but it was pretty expensive.
He then said:
You can do it yourself, just don’t pay attention to what you have to dig, focus on what you have already dug.
Boy, was he right. I took the shovel and I let a shovelful to drive the next one. In the end I did it, I dug all the furrows, in one day and a half.
As with masonry I tried to transfer this concept to the software world. At first it wasn’t easy, but it got better when I started making small changes to my code base, driven by small tasks in my Trello board. Each card felt a shovelful. Sometimes it’s enough to close a few tasks in a row to trigger a “power up effect”, much like with games.
It was unintuitive at first, but I am now getting better and better at it. Sometimes I need to look back to find that something that propels me forward.