Industrial XP -> Sustainable Pace

Sustainable Pace

Work sane hours to be effective and efficient


Dinner delivery for programmers burning the midnight oil

What is Sustainable Pace? It means working at a pace you can comfortably sustain and occasionally sprinting when you need to. Sustainable Pace is easy to define and harder to practice.

At the core of Sustainable Pace is the question, "How good are you when you're tired?"

I'm not good at all when I'm tired. While I can get things done when I'm tired, I don't work effectively or efficiently. I drag. I slog my way through work and my work isn't of high quality.

If I get accustomed to consistently working at an unsustainable pace, I spend a few non-productive hours per day getting little done. My attention drifts to a web page, a chat window, the phone, an email, a magazine. Yet such time isn't what Tom DeMarco would call Slack. Slack is healthy; it's a good thing. When I work too many hours, the time I spend drifting away from my work is my body and mind rebelling against an unsustainable pace.

Efficiency is the enemy of Effectiveness
-- Tom DeMarco in Slack

In his keynote speech at the first Agile Software Development conference, Jerry Weinberg made one thing crystal clear: to be a professional, you must take care of yourself. "Taking care of yourself," Jerry went on to say, "means taking care of your whole self - body and mind."

Maybe that takes courage. If your organization values people who most definitely do not work at a sustainable pace, you'll probably need courage to work at a sustainable pace. You might loose your job. Or, you might be so productive that no one could question your dedication or your accomplishments.

When I work at a sustainable pace, I have energy to work efficiently and effectively, I have time to spend with my family and friends, time to work out, time to even reflect on my work and a genuine satisfaction with my productivity.

When I commit to working at a sustainable pace, I know that I must not dilly-dally during work hours, as I won't have evening hours to make up for lost time. Committing to this practice means focusing during work hours and for me, and many others, the easiest way to focus is to pair with other individuals on tasks. After numerous hours of pairing, I'm usually happy with my productivity and content to go home on time.

Sustainable Pace takes practice and experimentation to master. Give yourself time to learn this practice. Observe yourself as you experiment with it. You may just find that you're a better professional when your pace is sustainable.

Further Reading

Slack by Tom DeMarco

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