Tag Archives: Writing

Write, The Right Tasks Down

There’s a bit of research available that claims writing down your goals, actually improves your chances of reaching them. I personally think that writing down my own goals has historically helped me find direction, when I had too much going on. Where I struggled wasn’t so much with writing down goals, but writing down the right tasks, to reach those goals.

Most often my To Do list would look something like this:

  • Make Grocery List
  • Check Kids Homework
  • Wash the Laundry
  • Let the Dog Out
  • Fix the Bathroom Light
  • Cook Dinner
  • Give the Baby a Bath…

I really didn’t have any problem getting through this To Do List on most days, but what would happen is that after I had worked through my list, I would lay down in bed and think…

“I didn’t workout today…”

“I didn’t do any better on trying to quit smoking…”

“I didn’t drink enough water…”

“I didn’t work on writing my book…”

“I didn’t move my goal forward…”

Basically, I had done all of the things I needed to do that day, which felt productive, but I didn’t actually get any closer to reaching any of my goals.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My kids homework needs checked, the laundry needs done, and I’ve got to make dinner. I’m not about to say those things don’t matter or don’t need done. That’s not where this is going.


What I am about to say, is that when I was writing my to do list, I was writing the wrong things down. By writing my day-to-day chores and responsibilities down, I was filling my mind, or rather, distracting my mind, from the bigger picture. I was busy thinking, “What do I need to do today” instead of thinking,

What do I need to do today that will get me somewhere in a year?

This is where the shift in mindset needs to be to really get on track for any goals you have. Don’t write down the things you already know you need to do. If you miss doing dishes one day, I promise you. I PROMISE YOU, you won’t care in 10 years.

But, if you keep doing your dishes everyday, instead of going to the gym, I PROMISE YOU, you will care about that in a year.

What I’ve found works best is to create a To Do list that focuses just on your goals and what you need to get done today to move your goals forward.

Completely eliminate anything that doesn’t directly relate to your goals.

  • Drink water
  • Plan some healthy grocery items
  • Workout
  • Write
  • Read
  • Practice a skill

These are the things that you want to be writing on your To Do list and by doing so, what I’ve found, is that I was able to focus on these things, get them done, and then still have time to do the dishes and make dinner.

I actually was more productive than I had been before, simply because I shifted the focus of what I needed to get done. I inadvertently put the priority on my goals and made them the number one thing to get done each day, instead of laundry.

If you’re looking for a deeper read on this topic check out my post – The “I HAVE To List” and let me know if this works for you!


Developers tend to be really great at writing code but not so great at documenting that code. It’s not that they can’t or don’t want to, it’s that often times the effort to write that documentation isn’t captured within the scope of the requirements for the feature.

But as developers we shouldn’t let that stop us!

photo cred: Shahadat Rahman

I’ll share a couple of good reasons to document your code and some really easy ways to make it happen. While we’re at it, let’s stop using the gross word “document.” What you want to write is a solid README!

Why You Should Document Write a README:

  1. Writing a README gives you a means to not be the sole owner of that code. When you have notes around how your code works, what it intends to accomplish, and how others can contribute the project, it stands a much greater chance of getting additional buy-in from other developers and stakeholders. When you’re the only one who knows how it works, be prepared to be the only one whoever gets asked to work on it.
  2. Writing a README for your code helps you be able to come back to that code and remember that one piece of how you set it up originally. It allows you to go back 6 months later and say, “Why the hell did I do it this way… Ohhhh… right… here’s why.” Save yourself, write a README for your code.
  3. Writing a README for your code helps you think through the scope of your project and its functionality. It helps you take a step back and really consider what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It helps you put that official stamp of approval that you’ve completed this version and it is DONE. Scope creep is dangerous, writing a README on the current state of the project and any potential future work can help keep that project from living forever.

How You Should Document Write a README:

  1. README, README, README… most source control services provide some extra functionality around writing README’s. Some really great ones like Gitlab and Github will display the contents of the README in a web browser making for easy access. If you’re not using source control, YOU SHOULD BE!. If you are using source control, you should be writing a README and including IT with your source code.
  2. There are some great README templates out there! Save yourself a ton of headache and find one that works for you. A template gives you a head start and helps you focus in on what you need to cover. It also helps maintain the scope of your README. Here’s one that I’ve used: https://github.com/othneildrew/Best-README-Template
  3. Don’t just rely on a template. Use the template as a starting point, but think about what is going to be important for your team, users, and stakeholders to know when viewing your README. Do they need to know how to set it up? Do they need to request any special permissions from anyone? Can you reference other documentation that might help give them a deeper understanding? Try to think of your README as being something you can hand to another person and they do not need to come back to you with questions.
  4. Maintain your README. As you do get additional questions on the project, update your README. Add a Frequently Asked Questions section or fix that typo. Include an area you may have missed from the first pass and encourage others to contribute to your README. Continue to build into your README as you add new functionality to your project and just remember to Keep It Simple Stupid.

README’s often get skipped over as we jump from project to project. I’ve been guilty of missing out on including them before but I’ve also seen the advantages of including them and I’m working to continue working on them.

The best place to start is to just start. Go grab a README template, paste it into your project and fill it out bare bones. From there you can build on to what you’ve started and the next thing you know, you’ll have a solid document around the who, the what, and the why.

Happy Coding!

The 3 Key First Steps to Accomplishing Any Goal

Accomplishing our goals is tricky business. It’s actually really tricky business. So tricky that it’s eluded me for years. I’ve spent a good solid chunk of my lifetime trying to figure out the best ways to accomplish my goals. And I always had all kinds of goals. I wanted to do something with my health or tackle this with my fitness. I wanted to start some business or do this project. I wanted to pickup this hobby or try out this new thing. I wanted to be this type of father to my kids or this type of husband to my wife.

But to accomplish all of these things I knew I needed a good game plan. I knew I needed a solid strategy to get there. And so I read, and read, and read. Book after book, online article after online article, trying to figure out what the secret sauce was.

And O…M…G… was it a pain in the ass… I could not find the right answers on anything I wanted to accomplish. I would read one piece of material that would offer suggestions on how to accomplish your goals. I’d try it, it would work for a little while. While my motivation was really high. And then as soon as I had a rough day or something threw me off track. It was game over…

photo cred: Sigmund

And every piece of advice or material I read was the same. The system would be different, the tricks would be new, but as soon as I hit a little bit of adversity. As soon as I got punched in the mouth by life. I would be right back where I started. It was such a sickening cycle…

So I set out to do some research of my own. Instead of reading about research someone else had done, I went out and did my own. I found other highly successful people who were already doing the things I wanted to do and I nailed down what it was they were doing. And I figured out a pattern…

These other highly successful people were doing two things that were setting them apart from the rest of the world.

  1. They had Powerful Why’s
  2. They felt they HAD To Do It

Each one of the highly successful people I looked at, whether it was success in fitness… comedy… politics… money… was using these two techniques to get it done. Even if they didn’t realize they were doing it, which in most cases was true. For a lot of these highly successful people I found that they were doing these things without even realizing it.

Life had forced these habits on them. Because of their circumstances growing up, or where life had taken them, most of them were being driven by Powerful Why’s that life handed them and the other half were being driven by things they felt the HAD TO DO. Sometimes it was poverty, sometimes it was hardship, and sometimes it was for their families.

So how can you take these same drivers and apply them to your own life?

What’s the secret sauce?

This is the third key to the first two and it’s probably the most critical for you.

Write… It… Down…


photo cred: Aaron Burden

I mean it. Sit down, pull out a piece of paper and write down your goals. Then for each of your goals, write down your Powerful Why’s. Try to think of why’s that are both selfish and selfless. Think of things that motivated you when you first thought of your goal. Maybe when you first started wanting to get in shape it was because someone made you feel bad. Write that down. Maybe you wanted to start that new business because you were inspired seeing someone else had done it. Write that down.

And once you’ve put together a nice long list of Why’s, set that piece of paper aside and grab a second. Now start writing out your HAVE TO List. Write down the things that you HAVE TO DO if you’re going to accomplish your goals on the other piece of paper. Write down not what you should do…. but what you HAVE TO DO, TODAY, to accomplish your goals. Write it down. And everyday you wake up, sit back down, and write down your HAVE TO DO List. Everyday. Write it down.

The reason this key is so important is because we tend to forget about the mission we’re on. We lose our motivation, we lose sight of our goal, the day-to-day distractions of life get in our way. By writing it down you give yourself two advantages. First, writing will help it stick in your mind better. Second, if you forget, you’ve already got it written down so that you can go back to it. So when I tell you this part is key, I mean it!

Write shit down!

Start with Gratitude

Finding your Why is the first place to start when you are laying out your plans to accomplish your goals. Without great motivators, a greater reason why you want to do what you want to do, you’ll fizzle out before you ever really get started. It’s incredibly critical to have strong why’s and is key to your long-term vision.

However, on the day-to-day grind you need a different, short-term, solution to fuel your motivation. That short-term motivation is Gratitude. Gratitude is taking motivation and flipping it on it’s head. It’s attacking the problem of motivation from a different angle. And it is vital in keeping your ego in check.

photo cred: Pro Church Media

Before I start any day, before I even look at my I HAVE To list, I sit down and I write down what I’m grateful for on that day. This has number of benefits, not just to reaching your goals, but to living your best life:

  1. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me in reality when my goals and dreams are huge. Gratitude reminds me that the little things still matter.
  2. It keeps my ego in check. You need your ego to drive you to be better, but you also can’t let it run away from you. Gratitude reminds you that there’s more in the world than just you and where you are now, there’s more than what you have, and it’s a reminder that it could all go away in an instant. Be Grateful for it.
  3. It tells me what is really important in life. It reinforces my Why’s and reminds me that no matter how successful or unsuccessful I am at whatever I’m setting my mind to. There’s always good things in my life. Even if I lose, I’m not out.
  4. It reminds me of those who have helped me. And that I couldn’t accomplish anything or do anything if it wasn’t for those who let me stand on their shoulders to get there.

I keep my gratitude list right next to my I HAVE To list and it serves as a daily reminder of all four of the points above.

photo cred: Aaron Burden

And your Gratitude list can really contain anything. Anything you’re grateful for. My list always contains a mix of big and small things. Some days I’m grateful for the cup of coffee I have in my hands and the space heater next to my desk after a cold run. Other days I’m thankful for my mom, my dad, my wife, my kids, my dog… sometimes I’m grateful for a warm summer day or the success I’ve already been blessed with and other times I’m grateful for a good laugh and another day to live.

It doesn’t really matter what you’re grateful for, as long as you’re appreciating the world around you and sharing the credit for how you got to where you are. If you’re readying this, you’ve got something to be grateful for.

I’d love to hear what others are grateful for that maybe I haven’t put on my list of Gratitude yet. Let me know what you’re grateful for and leave me a comment!