At a Crossroads

I’ve recently hit a point in my career where I feel like I am at a crossroads. I’m currently headed down a path that could lead me to fantastic opportunities in Product Management. When I first hired on at familysearch, that was totally the direction I wanted to head. It still may be, but I’m feeling torn because I still really love developing software.

I love getting my brain wrapped around a programming problem, getting in the zone, and delivering something cool. It is strange to say, but it gives me a sense of exhilaration when I’ve solved a really hard problem. It is really hard for me to let go of that.

I feel like I am good at combining together good ideas to solve problems. Sometimes those ideas are big ideas which would need an orchestrated effort from multiple teams of people to pull off. This is where I see excitement in Product Management.

My fear is that I will become consumed working in heavy product/project management tools (like VersionOne) doing busy work and will lose the enjoyment that I find in software development. I also fear that I will become one of those guys who says “I used to program COBOL or Fortran.” Another fear I have us that I won’t be effective enough in persuading others when I run up against opposition. I don’t like conflict, but I know I need to learn to manage it.

We are experiencing innovation like we’ve never seen before. New platforms, databases, devices, protocols, etc. are being released at breakneck speeds which enable us to imagine things that have never been possible before. The question I have to ask myself is: What is the level of influence I ultimately want to have in defining the future? I guess that is why I am still leaning slightly towards Product Management.

Focus

Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of DistractionAs a manager, I have often found myself at the end of the day having not accomplished anything except having responded to emails. This has felt really frustrating because there are other things that my team and my boss expect me to do.

I’ve recently discovered a FREE e-book called Focus which has some very useful tips on how to avoid the above scenario.

Some of the the insights that I’ve gleaned from this book so far include:

  • It’s okay to turn off your email, chat clients, etc. — my responses don’t need to be as real-time as I think they do.
  • A lot of my fears around recourse if I don’t respond to e-mail immediately are unfounded.
  • Distractions are okay, as long as they are planned.
  • The need to stay connected with the constant streams of communication (E-Mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is an addiction.
  • There are tools that I can install on my computer to help me avoid distractions during focus times.
  • Disconnecting and truly being “home” after work will really help me live a more fulfilling life. I have already found this to be true.
  • I get more done if I focus on one thing at a time, rather than hop between the constant streams of interruptions.

I’m about half-way through Focus. I’ll likely be posting more on this as I find more interesting things in the book.

If I had an extra 30 minutes

I’m awake 30 minutes earlier than usual, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with that extra time. I decided that I’m going to try to make this a habit, so I want to make sure that I’m taking advantage of the time and making the best of that extra 30 min. Here’s my brainstorm of things I’ve been wanting to do:

  • Write more – blog or early morning “thoughts” notebook
  • Coding – I have so many projects floating around in my head that I’d like to work on
  • Work hours – getting more work hours in on my second job so I don’t have to cram at the end of the month
  • Exercise – make sure I’m getting enough exercise to stay healthy (stomach/core exercises especially)
  • Read – I’ve got some books I’ve been wanting to finish for a long time (Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, Focus, the management books I’m borrowing from Penney)
  • Study scriptures – I usually do my scripture study at night, right before going to bed, but I usually fall asleep a ton while doing this.

Perhaps this month, I’ll make it a goal to focus on one of these things. I’ll probably start with writing.

Droid Incredible

This is my first post to my blog via the WordPress app for Android. So far, it seems to be a nice app, but I wish it had an undo feature as you are inputting the text because I accidentally selected all of the post text and hit a letter on the virtual keyboard which blew away the entire post.

At times I feel like I’m in the Ellen iPhone commercial. I find myself having a bunch of oops moments. Today I accidentally called somebody unintentionally just because I was holding the phone while it was unlocked.

Anyways, I like my new phone so far.

How to Get Hooked on Twitter

I started using Twitter on the 25th of November, 2008. Before then, I thought Twitter was an immense waste of time. I finally saw the light, joined, and have become a huge fan.

Here are a few things I did to help me get hooked on Twitter.

1. Used the Gmail address book finder from the “Find People” link at the top. This helped me connect quickly with about 15 friends I didn’t even know used Twitter.

2. Found more friends to follow by exploring my friends’ “Following” lists.

3. Installed TweetDeck and Twitterberry. TweetDeck makes posting updates to your timeline really easy. It also has a handy URL shortener and gives you fast Desktop notification of your friends’ updates. Twitterberry allows you to easily give updates while you are on the go without needing to use SMS.

4. Began tracking my links with Tr.im. Tr.im is a link shortening service that will give you click stats on all of the links you post. These numbers will begin to show you the power of Twitter as a broadcast medium. Think nobody is listening because they don’t reply? Tr.im will show you that people actually do care about what you post.

5. Began posting regularly, although I still go through dry spells at time.

Hopefully this post will help other Twitter newbies more effectively use Twitter.

What have you done to get hooked on Twitter?

Any WordPress plug-ins I should be aware of? Other tools?

So THIS is Twitter…

Although I consider myself a pretty tech savvy guy, I’m not as up to date on Internet social life. Today, I updated my status on my Facebook account for the first time ever, and then I thought, Oh, I bet that is what Twitter is really all about.

I visited Twitter and lo and behold, a new video there that explains Twitter in plain English. I never really grokked Twitter, even though I knew what the Fail Whale was. I guess I’m starting to get it now.

Now I just need to actually use it.

(video provided by a cool company named Common Craft)