Weeknotes 2023 W38:
Tools and techniques

September 18​–​24, 2023
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Quick bits:

I’m not doing particularly great this week. My burnout is manifesting itself, and I wonder whether I’m sliding into the depression (the two can go hand in hand).

My energy levels are at an all-time low. No focus, either. I’ve had a to-do list titled “To do (Saturday)” where I kept scratching out the weekday name and updating it. It now says “Friday” (it’s Sunday as I am writing this), but at least some of the to-do items are checked off now.

My cardiologist didn’t see anything I should be worried about, but two more tests are scheduled.

One regret: not putting on puppy eyes and asking my doctor “so if my heart is fine… does that mean I can love again with all my heart?” (He really didn’t seem like he’d find this funny.)

I have failed my writing challenge. This week, I have no new short story. I have not written a single paragraph, or even a single sentence — at best a few words that I could not string together.

I have no inspiration, no energy, and no focus.

I’m sad that I’ve broken my streak, but it is what it is. I might continue coming week, depending on how I feel. I’m not going to force myself, though.

I need to talk about the tools and techniques trap, because I see people stumbling into this frequently, and I think it’s quite a source of frustration for me.

What I mean by this trap is that we tend to overly focus on tools and techniques, rather than what to achieve with them. There are myriad examples:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with talking or getting excited about tools and techniques like the ones I just mentioned, but it gets problematic when the focus is entirely on the tools or techniques.

I’ve seen this most prominently in software development, where far too often there was no conversation about what to build and why, and only on how to do the implementation. Oh, the endless arguments!

This is frustrating to me because tools and techniques are just a means to an end. Yes, agreeing on a set of tools and techniques is useful, as is learning them properly. But the only way in which they matter is their ability to produce good results.

This is why I’ll follow up a request like “we need to break up our monolith into microservices” with the question “why?” — and often, I end up coming across as contrarian.

I much rather want to think about what the end result is, and why that result matters. In other words, what is the value I am creating? What is the purpose of my work? The drawback of thinking this way is that… well… the purpose of the work is often remarkably vague — a problem that has certainly fueled my burnout.

I want to do things that genuinely matter, is what I’m saying.

I found a big mushroom!



Tech links: