I went away for a relaxing weekend, far from cell phone reception and internet access. Given my recent post about not being able to turn it off at the end of the day, maybe it is slightly ironic that I packed two books: The Art of Agile Development and The Art of War.
The Art of War is one of those books I like to pick up from time to time. I am not a fan of comparing war to sports or work, there is no comparison. The book is a good read though for understanding strategy, how to utilize resources, and human interactions. Many of the concepts are applicable to daily life.
I found an interesting passage in The Art of War that could be applied to the concept of Energized Work.
Victory should be swift
If victory is slow,
Men tire, morale sags
Sieges exhaust strength;
Strain the public treasury.
If men are tired,
Then the feudal lords
Will exploit the disarray
This even the wisest
Will be powerless
Logically, I believe in the concepts behind what the XP community refers to as Energized Work. Software engineering is a complex activity and it requires you to be fully engaged and focused. That is hard to do if you are working long hours. The problem I have with it is that over 20+ years of working as a software engineer, I have conditioned myself to work to the limits.
I was talking with another developer about this recently and I said that it really takes buy-in from management to make Energized Work possible. He turned it around and put the burden back on me. His thinking was it only worked if I made the decision to follow the principles and it would never work if I waited for someone else to make it happen.
That meant I had to make the decision to leave work at a regular time. That I had to make the decision to spend time with my family instead of sneaking off to do work. This developer and I have worked together in the past and he knows my work habits pretty well. His analysis stopped me in my tracks.
Bad habits are hard to break. One of mine is not being able to turn it off at the end of the day. I have to put the blame for that squarely on me. I have no problem saying to another developer “Go home, you’ll get it in the morning”. I need to remember to apply that advice to myself from time to time.
Inspired by James Shore’s recent Energized Work haiku (and feeling temporarily brainlocked) I decided to tap my inner muse
Commented out code!
Detritus of method’s past
Time to refactor
I know…..don’t give up the day job. And give me a break, I know refactoring is a lot more than removing commented out code, but there is only so much you can say in 5-7-5 syllables.
Plus, I really wanted to work in detritus. Not a word you get to use everyday.