Time Shifting Work

DVRs were the first devices to truly allow us to time shift TV – meaning we could watch a show when we want and when was best for our schedule, rather than when the broadcaster showed it. Apps like Instapaper changed the way we could consume news in a similar time shift. Instead of reading an entire article right when we happened upon it, we could save it to read later.

The new freelance economy combined with teams spread across the world is introducing the time shifting of work. When I get my work done matters much less if you are in a time zone 12 hours behind. That opens up flexibility. Companies hiring freelancers also have to work around their schedules, at least a bit, because freelancers generally have to have more than one client and the companies hiring them know that.

Those changes lead to the question “when does work need to be done.” Does it have to be between 9 and 5? Absolutely not. Hopefully at some point in the near future companies will have to charge a premium to get work done during set hours as more people realize that things don’t have to be that way.

Hot and Fresh

You’ll have to forgive me because I’m a nerd a I’ve never really understood the more socially driven aspects of life. Things like fashionable clothes or hip slang escape me – I just don’t get it. Why would you intentionally say something in a less direct and more obscure way? How will anyone understand you?

I had an epiphany a couple days ago. I think I’ve finally understood the point of some of things. I finally see the value in knowing what the hot, fresh thing is.

But I still can’t put it into words.

Maintaining Momentum

While watching football today the announcers described the importance of maintaining momentum in a game. The Miami Dolphins had strung together a scoring drive with a few good plays on their next possession. Then they were flagged for a couple penalties in a row and had to punt. They’d lost their rhythm and their momentum.

I think good leaders can push a team back into a rhythm and generate momentum. That’s probably a nearly impossible to track statistic that is the difference between the goods and the greats.

That importance of that trait isn’t unique to football or even sports. Leaders in business do the same thing. They dictate the rhythm for their industry and create momentum for their employees. And they do it despite all kind of setbacks, using patience and sheer determination to make it happen.

The best way to keep driving rhythm and momentum is to have a destination – somewhere you are trying to go. That requires a strong vision of what you want the future to be and the knowledge of how to change the present to get to that future.


We humans are highly adaptable. For example, within a minute after jumping into a pool on a hot summer’s day our body temperature will adjust to its new surroundings. But we usually still fear the cold from jumping in. What are you afraid to jump into?

How Much Do You Know

Over the last few days I’ve been teaching things that I’ve done so much that they’ve become second nature. Simple things, well simple to me, like using a three finger drag to move items on a Mac. Or when it is appropriate to retweet. Really simple things, except they aren’t.

If you’re ever feeling you don’t have any worth, find someone that wants to learn about something that is second nature to you. You’ll see there is much more to you than you realize.

Seeing Into The Future

One of our jobs as programmers is to see into the future. We have to be able to see the logical path our code will follow to its end and make sure it will go where we want. The easiest way to do this is by keeping things super simple, but that generally isn’t the best way to solve the problem.

Instead we must do our best and have people test the things we build. Even the simplest projects create a huge number of possible test scenarios so we test what we can and cross our fingers.

An Honest Day’s Work

I’m not sure if things have changed since I haven’t been around long enough. And I don’t know if my point of view is skewed by the people I surround myself with. But I feel like the concept of getting paid for an honest day’s work has fallen aside, instead, everyone is looking to maximize their ROI, hoping for big payouts, and trying to live the 4 hour workweek.

I don’t like it. I’m stubborn and a little old fashioned and I want to make an honest wage for the work I’ve done and the value I deliver.

What Are The Odds

Everyone loves that good story about a person beating the odds. A high school student that makes a popular app. A businessperson that succeeds wildly through minimal investment. Finding that one tweak that can improve performance by 300%.

Those are all great stories. But what are the odds it will happen to you? Obviously the odds are zero if you don’t try, right? Anything can happen, right? And yes, you should try, to a point.

But that point is not a life or business strategy. You can’t bet your company on finding that social media hack that gets you millions of followers and thousands of customers just like you can’t bet your life on that lottery ticket that will have you set for life.

Instead you create a strategy for success without any of that. And while following that strategy you put yourself in a position where those situations could happen.

Have a social media account where you share the awesome things you’re doing. But first make sure you are handling the fundamental step of doing awesome things. Don’t spend all your time on social media trying to force something that isn’t there because you aren’t putting in the work.

Go out and meet that genius high school student that can make your product revolutionary instead of great. But meet her while you are out volunteering or meeting people that are interested in your story and helping you succeed. Don’t spend all your time looking for her instead of moving forward with your plans.

Concentrate on making your thing the best thing possible and leave the one in a million things to themselves.

A Different Approach

I remember when I first got into programming I approached some problems differently. I’m not sure the best way to describe it, but I think I attacked them like a human would rather than like a computer could. I’ll give an example.

A common problem I’ve come across is tracking time. Let’s say I make an application that tracks how long I’ve been working on a particular task. If I try to solve this problem like a human could, I’d try to count the number of seconds I’ve been doing something. Each time the clock ticks, I increment a variable that is tracking my total time. And really, this isn’t an unreasonable approach to the problem, even for a computer. But solving the problem like a computer can is much better.

A computer can store abstract values that are difficult for the human mind to remember. And a computer can perform calculations on those values so much faster than I can blink that it boggles my mind if I let myself think about it. So a computer can use a different approach to solving this problem – it can store the starting time and the ending time and perform a calculation to find the total time. Why is this much better?

First, we have much richer information. Not only do we know the total time, but we know the start time and finish time. If we want to run a report and see how many hours are logged starting between 10 and 11 in the morning, we can. Since we can never predict how we may need to use information in the future, richer information is valuable.

Second, the system is more reliable. If our program is counting and runs into a crashing bug then the count is lost. That is really bad if you’re trying to track billable time. If we save a start date and the program crashes, we still have that start date available when the program starts back up and we can continue where we left off.

Third, the second approach is more efficient. If the computer constantly has to increment a number then it has to repeatedly work at regular intervals. That means it is using more power, and in the case of a mobile device draining the battery more quickly.

Since I’ve been doing programming for a while, the second approach is the only obvious one to me now. I have to work to try to remember how I approached the problem back when I was a beginner to see any other way to solve it.

Everything Is Getting Worse

Everything is always getting worse and everything is always getting better and we have little control over either. Change is constantly moving us forward.

Change is only bad if you’re living in the past and you’re trying to hold on to what was.