Monday, 24 August 2009

GTD: Give “Something” a Name

Sabretooth Since moving to a biphasic sleep pattern, I have found that I now have a lot more time to undertake projects that have been sat on the back-burner for far too long. Many of these are not really “geek” related and span a number of aspects of my personal life, be it fitness, financial or simply learning something out of the norm.

“Something”

.. is where the problem comes in. Sometimes we just want to do stuff that is hard to slap a name on. For example, one of my projects is “sort fitness”. Sure, I could lump it all under “training”, but what about all the extra bits that come with it, like managing diet, tracking or research? Many of our big goals that tend to come out of things like a New Years Marmite Moment tend to be really “fluffy” and open-ended.

So What’s the Problem?

The problems I find with this are:

It Can Make it Hard to Talk About

If you have to rehash a sentence explaining what you are trying to do, each and every time you talk about it you are just making extra work for yourself (and whoever you are talking to). Something we are working [hard] on is going to come up a lot, be it in notes, task names or emails. Make it quick to reference.

You Might Have to Talk Too Much

On the flipside, you may be working on something that you do not really want to talk about a great deal. It may be a personal project, or simply something you cannot discuss in public yet.

So What Do You Propose?

Well, this kind of thing has been plaguing the software industry for a long time. When you are working on the “cosmic spangbobulator" module for the “whizzbang shiznit” that has not had a name made up by marketing yet, it can become quickly difficult when people ask “what have you been working on?”. There are also issues with talking too much, you may have NDA’s to adhere to, or simply not want to ruin the surprise.

What do they do in software? Code names!

What? You were expecting some totally original idea that would blow everything else away? If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

Why Code Names? This Isn’t MI6?!

Code names help simplify things a lot. Your peer group will quickly learn that project “SABRETOOTH” is something you are cooking up that is going to change the way that people wear their underpants FOREVER - they don’t need to keep hearing it.

If you are protecting a concept, you can protect it with a name that doesn’t suggest what you are working on. Who thinks “underpants” when they hear “sabretooth”?*
* FYI - I am not working on any underpants-related projects at this time.

Simplicity and IP protection aside, it can actually be fun to have some code names – why not have MI6 SIS-sounding project names?

We should all love what we do, and any little thing that makes you more enthusiastic about your project(s) should become a part of your working system.

Themes

Sometimes it can be hard to come up with some codenames, so if you want to have some fun, use a theme! Pick something you like and use names/words associated with that. If you a LoTR fan, rock on with project “Gollum”. You can then play on that some more and name the core component “Precioussssssss!”

For those interested, two of the projects I am working on ATM are “Bamford” and “"Dowell” – can you guess the theme? The first one gets a congratulatory comment-based pat on the head!

Summary

Make your projects easier to discuss, discussion brings conversation and insight which can ultimately improve the outcome. Have some fun with it and you will do it more.

Since I have labelled project “Bamford” it has actually been interesting eluding to it when talking to people. I don’t want to announce what it is until the project is complete. If/when it is complete, it should be a real nice interesting topic for discussion..

Work hard, play harder.

No comments:

Post a Comment