Sep 17

Imagine you're a member in a close-knit cooperative commune. The commune has been buzzing along for a few years now, and the members know each other well and coexist nicely. However, it is decided that a crucial skill for the commune is missing and new talent is needed. As the natural leader of the commune, you are asked to interview and decide which candidate would bring the most benefit to the commune.

You've seen two candidates. The first seems to be highly skilled in that one thing your commune is looking for. The second candidate also has the same skill, but he may be not as skilled as the first one. Alright, dilemma over, let's pick candidate #1. Or are we really done?

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Aug 17

In this post I don't want to convince you that you need to meditate. I want to explain what creating a habit of meditation can do for you, and you can decide for yourself whether it's something you value enough in order to give it a shot or not. If this post was titled "Why lift weights", I would be saying that lifting weights increases your strength and/or muscle mass, and will probably make your body look nicer. If that's something you want and value, obviously lifting weights is one way to go about it.

If you want to increase your capacity to exercise conscious control over the content of your own mind, or in other words to be more the influencer of your thoughts rather than to be influenced by them, you should practice meditation. Specifically, you should start with single pointed focus meditation.

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Jun 17

If you could narrow down the team leader's role to one sentence, what would it be?

Try asking your manager what they think your role is. They may say something like "make sure team members are doing their job". If you're lucky, they may even suffice with "make sure the team releases high quality products on time". Fair enough, both are components of a successful team. But I believe there is a principle that encompasses both of these and many other components that make a team successful. And it's a more positive principle to boot.

This is my answer:

Team leadership is all about making work fun for your team

The premise is simple: If the work activity is fun, people will do it in the best possible way. This includes quality, reliability and crucially but often overlooked, sustainability.

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May 17
Unless you are a one person team, you are working with a process. It can be an explicit and defined process like Scrum or Kanban, it can be something of your own concoction, or even just a set of unspoken rules and expectations among you and your coworkers.
The thing about processes is that they can either be the best thing for your team's productivity, or they can be the reason your team never delivers anything on time. Sadly, most processes tend to gravitate towards the inefficiency end of this spectrum. That's why when people think of processes they usually have an alarm bell going off in their head. They perceive the process as something that gets in their way, stops their flow, dictates their actions and generally just slows them down. And with good reason: Who among us was not victimized by coma inducing meetings, or conventions that consume precious time without actually producing any tangible value?
Process tends to become inefficient in a similar way to how software tends to become bloated: It contains bugs, it accumulates useless features over time, and it gets filled with ad hoc solutions to problems that no longer exist. Process, like software, can easily become cumbersome to the point of embarrassment. Unless, that is, someone cares enough to stop every now and then and clean it up.
This is true no matter what kind of process you have in place. This is why you need to hold retrospectives at regular intervals.

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Jan 17

Officially, Broken Windows theory refers to a behavioral pattern on a societal level, where environments that tolerate little 'glitches', like a broken window or uncollected litter, will tend to slide towards the direction of more and more glitches. Throwing a piece of trash on the floor is perceived as a worse offense when the streets are trash free, yet it can be perceived as barely an offense at all when the streets are filthy. This is, in part, a mental bias: The action done is the same (throwing trash in public space), the end result is the same (an equal amount of trash is added to the environment), but we perceive the severity entirely different.

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Sep 16

Habitmint.com is a hobby project that intends to provide a nonsense-free, cross-device assistance in tracking your daily habits and goals. I've been using it personally for months now and I'm very happy with the outcome.


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Sep 16
You must know the old trick of cheering yourself up: Turn that frown up side down! For some reason, faking a smile makes a real psychological change. Kind of like how it's tough to be absolutely serious while shrilling "wheee!!"
These simple examples of how self deception, which is often perceived as a negative trait, can achieve beneficial psychological modifications. I want to take this thought a bit further and see how self deception can work to our advantage at work and in life. Let's start with a metaphor

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May 16

I often see people who seek self improvement come up with a resolution that consists of a scary list of boundary pushing commitments. Something along the lines of "Starting tomorrow, every day I'll wake up every day at 5 am, jog 10 kms, study 2 hours and clean a room in my apartment". This is not even a hyperbole.

There are a bunch of things that will make this type of resolution an almost guaranteed fail. One of them I've already touched before, the concept of adopting one habit at a time.

This time I want to touch on another, which is committing to more than you can chew.

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Apr 16

As habits and personal commitments build up it becomes increasingly difficult to fit in new ones. Despite our best efforts, some commitments that we know are good for us can fail to become automatic habits that require no willpower or attention to execute. Yet, since we recognize the importance, we remain committed, at the cost of some willpower and attention.

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Nov 15

The mental carrot is a reward I give myself for completing a task. But there are two ways to complete a task: You can either treat it as an obstacle and get it out of the way as soon as possible, or you can treat the task as the center of your existence for the time you're performing it.
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