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Tech Productivity

Issue #72  (The Cobra Effect) 06/29/20

One of this week's articles discusses something called the cobra effect, which discourages linear thinking. The cobra effect is named after an anecdote that is described as follows:

"The British government was concerned about the number of venomous cobras in Delhi. The government therefore offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially this was a successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising people began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the worthless snakes free; the wild cobra population further increased."

An Assembly Line
A linear concept might work for an assembly line, but not so much in controlling a wild cobra population.
There are other similar examples thoughout history discussed in the Wikipedia article and the article linked below by Anne-Laure Le Cunff is also worth a read for a better understanding of the practicality of avoiding this type of thinking in certain situations. Though I do think there's a place for linear thinking so it shouldn't be discarded altogether.

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

Tools & Apps

Relanote - A note-taking tool to help you connect the dots that combines both hierarchical and non-hierarchical note-taking.

PliimPro - Mac utility that lets you customize your system before sharing your screen for a meeting (hide desktop icons, disable notifications, mute speakers, etc).

Chronoscope - An intelligent time management platform that increases data accuracy and reduces time entry errors. Integrates with Slack, Jira, Trello, etc.

Memex - Browser extension to full-text search your browsing history and bookmarks.

Kitemaker - Makes it easy for designers, coders, and anyone else on the team to collaborate. Every issue is a collaborative document and an activity feed, making it easy to plan, discuss, and follow every issue.

Codacy: Automated Code Reviews - Automate and Standardize Code Quality — Set standards on coverage, duplication, complexity, and style issues and see real-time feedback in your Git workflow.   promoted  

Articles & Resources

How I Deleted My Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram Accounts, and Felt Great Since - Sean Duffy estimates that over the last 3 years, he's saved about 2,920 hours of mindless scrolling through mostly uninteresting content.

A Guide To Distributed Teams - From the November 2019 issue of Increment, a print and digital magazine about how teams build and operate software systems at scale.

How to Recognize Burnout Before You’re Burned Out - 2017 NY Times article that lists some common work stressors, signs to watch for, and how to combat burnout.

The Cobra Effect: How Linear Thinking Leads To Unintended Consequences - A discussion of something called "the cobra effect" which posits that linear thinking is often not the right way to approach a problem.

There's A Reason We Procrastinate and It's Not Laziness - Tim Pychyl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University, says procrastination is driven by our desire to avoid difficult emotions.


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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