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2008-04-01

The Unbearable Overwhelm of Technical Debt

I noticed that recent efforts to increase my level of organization and productivity have shown up as disorganized and unproductive.  There is also some sort of overhanging cloud of technical debt in the form of incomplete projects and activities.  On top of that, I have the definite sense that I am slowing down and that times of focused concentration are not so easily generated as in my energetic youth.

Someday has arrived.  I have a number of arrangements that were carried out at a just-good-enough level where now it seems as if all of them now have a claim on needing to be brought forward to the long-promised improved state before I built atop their foundation.  The alternative is even more technical debt, and I find that overwhelming.

The advice of past mentors and coaches comes to mind.  Two practices seem to apply here:

  1. Ensure that all of the incomplete activities are written down and kept in existence outside of my head.  I can then look at them for the specific next actions that will move them along.
      
  2. Find the one action that, if taken, will free me from the experience of overwhelm and provide some satisfaction and accomplishment with which to move forward.

Writing this post is not (2), so there is limited therapeutic value in writing this. 

I notice one place where I feel blocked in moving ahead without having it finally settled.  It has to do with the plumbing of my web sites.   My first reaction is fear that will be too much of a distraction from all the other activities I have simmering away.  I suppose that practice (2) would be to apply practice (1) to that area.  OK, I can go that far.

 
Comments:
 
And I think the way to make it work is if practice (1) can be done in an agile way. That is, how little can be done and what is the easiest way to do it?

I will be moving to a practice of triage, but will work to apply your practice (1) to the projects that are put away, or to sleep, or whatever state they are put in.
 
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