Small Things

The below is a list of small things that I find useful. These are especially useful in context of the remote working setup that we are all forced to follow because of COVID-19.

  1. Broadcast information. You have raised a pull request for your story/issue/task just drop a message in your team communication tool that you have raised the PR and please add a link to the pull request. The pull request is just one example. This is broadly applicable to many things. In my view, in today’s remote work environment where there is limited facetime pushing information should be the norm. Pull information is intrusive and people get offended as well.
  2. Add details to your question. If you ask a question in a chat tool please share what you have tried, what didn’t work, if there is a stack trace please share that as well, and stay engaged. This is your need. Put an effort to make it easy for others to help. If you don’t care about asking a detailed question most people will not care to reply as well.
  3. Wherever possible share links. In a previous point I gave one example related to pull requests. There are many other places like JIRA issues, UX design, design document, files in a Git repository, confluence/wiki documentation, and many others. It saves a lot of time when people share links. Also, people are more likely to reply to your message if you share a link.
  4. Over-communicate. Over-communication is better than under-communication. Share the same information in chat, email, daily standup, or a meeting. 
  5. Don’t shy away from writing about the thing that you just learnt/discovered. It doesn’t matter how many times it is already written. It is your learning and you should document it. Share it with your team so that all of you can learn from that.
  6. RSVP email invites. For most meetings people don’t either accept or decline the invite. It is not clear till the meeting who will join the invite. I am also guilty of doing this.
  7. Prefer group chat over 1-1 chat. It builds the culture of trust and everyone learns from the discussion.
  8. Update your tools. There might be some security patches or new features that you can use. If Chrome and IntelliJ are telling you on your face that you update to the latest version please listen to them. 
  9. Store documents related to your project in a single folder. This way you don’t have to scan your email or look at your Downloads folder with gazillion files when someone asks for specific information.
  10. Follow naming conventions for your folders/projects. I prefer kebab-case.
  11. For a language, please standardize on a single tool. For example, when working with Java, I prefer all team members to use IntelliJ. This helps when you pair with a fellow developer. Also, you can learn some tips and tricks from each other.
  12. See if you can use a visual medium to explain the problem. I use to quickly draw box and arrow diagrams. Having something that you can see improves understanding. This also forces people who speak a lot to slow down and explain things clearly. This is what Mark Richards call “Demonstration defeats discussion”.
  13. Please read the documentation. Search for keywords that you are looking for answers in the documentation. The other day we had to look for a pdf download API in a modern SaaS banking engine. I searched for download keyword in their API index and could find out the API.
  14. Don’t use @channel or `@user` for all the messages you post in your favourite chat tool.

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