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Tech Productivity

Issue #210  (Why Backlogs are Harmful) 02/20/23

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In early January a user on Hacker News started a thread that many of you may be able to relate to, even if you're not in the age group mentioned. The user says in the Ask HN post, "I'm 40 and feel my mental ability declining. Programming seems harder."

My immediate thought was that this is normal and it definitely must be something to do with age. But the top comment has a fairly optimistic response:
"I don't know you personally but I doubt cognitive decline has anything to do with this. As we age, we usually end up with more and more life responsibilities, beyond just the work we are doing. All of that is input to the brain and requires energy in response."

The comment goes on:
"I often feel as you do, but then I have periods where I am as light and agile in my productivity as 20 years ago, maybe even more so, and usually it is my life circumstances that are the culprit."
Woman on Laptop Having Stress

Another user mentions that they have gone through something similar, offering suggestions including the following:
"Generally I was able to reverse it by working on something which really stimulated me - even hacking away on some goofy personal project after hours - and that kind of bootstrapped me back into a place where I could easily attain flow for "harder" tasks."

If this is something you've noticed after years of programming or working in a challenging role, you may benefit from checking out that whole discussion. And at the very least, it's nice to know we're not alone in this sort of thing!

Now on to this week's hand-picked productivity links!


Tools & Apps

Tablane — A minimal web-based todo app and workspace that adapts to your needs and features collaborative editing, subtasks, comment threads, and more. And apparently it's built and run by a 17-year-old! — An iOS schedule app, with a time-based approach, that puts all your events, tasks, and reminders on a single view.

Sharrr — An open-source file transfer platform with end-to-end encryption, one-time downloads, and up to 100 GB for the file size limit.

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noventx — A simple user interface for Google Drive that improves on the lack of simplicity and intuitiveness of using Google Drive natively, to help you organize and find your content.

Rackoot — Described as "bookmarking on steroids", this is a tile-based approach to saving stuff on a customizable and easy-to-use dashboard.

Gmail Email Templates — A Gmail Chrome extension or Gmail Workspaces add-on that includes 600+ email templates and allows you to create your own or import template from MailChimp.

Articles & Resources

Why Backlogs are Harmful, Why They Never Shrink, and What to Do Instead — Lucas Fernandes and his co-founder don't have a backlog because they view a backlog as 'waste' that never gets cleaned up. This is a viewpoint to consider if you work on a team that has a persistent and unmanageable backlog of tasks.

What We Look For in a Resume — One startup's perspective on the job market with their attempt to shed some light on what's happening on the other side of the table, so you can create a resume that they believe gives you the best opportunity to get the job.

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Go Ahead—Quit the Books and Shows You’re Not That Into —  Definitely something to consider. Of course, it's not easy if you want to 'see what happens', which is the main attraction to sticking with any show or book that isn't great quality.

The Zwicky Box: A Powerful Method for Problem Solving and Creativity — This strategy, created by a 20th century astronomer named Fritz Zwicky, is similar to a tagging system and the author goes into some practical ways it can be used in a modern setting.

2 Tricks Will Help You Learn and Remember New Stuff — Based on material from Iowa State University that looks at the benefits of spacing and retrieval (which are commonly known but probably not practiced enough) when attempting to learn new things.

How to Use a Sense of Urgency to Do What Actually Matters — I like the point that humans tend to prioritize shorter tasks over longer ones, rather than focusing on what's most important, regardless of how long it takes.


Have a suggestion for a productivity-related tool, article, or other resource? Send me a direct message via X (@LouisLazaris) and I’ll consider including it in a future issue.

Stay productive!


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