Prevent Procrastination With This One Simple Tip

I’m currently reading Limitless by Jim Kwik and there’s an excellent  method that he outlines if you struggle with getting stuff done due to procrastination. So I though I’d share.

Generally I am fairly disciplined when it comes to getting stuff done but like most people I can find it easy to fall victim to procrastination.

Procrastination is really deferred progress for no good reason. One cause is that a task seems to big, or you feel like you don’t have the time or energy to complete the task.

Jim Kwik introduces the concept of Small Simple Steps (or S cubed).

The essence of this approach is for any task that you find you are procrastinating on, pick a small part (step) of the task to start on. The key thing is to pick a step that is so small and so simple that you cannot fail at it.

For example the task of losing 50kg of fat could be as simple as putting on your workout shoes.Don’t worry about actually going for a walk/run/workout just do the small simple step of putting your shoes on.

You can also apply this to work, for example if you have a bad quality codebase with no tests and unreadable code it’s easy to put off making it better. One small simple step here could be to add the first unit test. It could be even smaller such as add a unit test project.

I’ve applied this technique a few times since learning about it and even though it seems trivial, it does work.

If you like this technique and use it successfully let know on Twitter :)

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You Can Watch All My Pluralsight Training Videos for Free This April

No credit card needed, sign up for free now and start watching all my Pluralsight training courses for free.

Some suggestions:

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The following are some suggested courses on topics that may not be on your radar but that your may find interesting.

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If you want a ready made “curriculum” in the form of a skills path check out the follow paths that feature some of my courses and courses by fellow Pluralsight authors:

P.s. Remember to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally during these trying times.

From the Pluralsight website: "Free April is open to anyone who is not a current, active subscriber."

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New Pluralsight Course: Creating Automated Browser Tests with Selenium in C#

My newest Pluralsight course was just published and you can start watching today. Selenium is a tool that allows you to automate a web browser and simulate an end-user interacting with your web app. You can combine Selenium with a test framework such as xUnit.net to create tests that check your web app is working as expected.

Automated browser tests can compliment your other types of tests such as unit and integration tests.

From the course description: “Unit and integration tests can help you catch a range of bugs, but not all of them. Even if your unit and integration tests pass, you could still deploy your web app to production and find it doesn’t work as expected. In this course, Creating Automated Browser Tests with Selenium in C#, you will gain the ability to create tests that automate the browser and simulate a real person using your web app. First, you will learn how to set up your test project and write your first test. Next, you will discover how to interact with web page elements from your tests, such as clicking a button or typing text. Finally, you will explore how to create a suite of automated web tests that are easier to maintain over time. When you are finished with this course, you will have the skills and knowledge of Selenium automated browser testing needed to help ensure your web app is working as expected before you release it to production.”

Check out the course today and if you’re not a Pluralsight member you can currently start watching for free with a Pluralsight Free Trial with Unlimited Access .

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Do Your Own Personal Agile Retrospective

I recently started to adopt a new practice for my personal life in which when I go to bed and my head hits the pillow, I ask myself three question as I fall asleep.

These 3 questions are:

  • What’s one thing I could have done better today
  • What’s one thing I did well today; and
  • What’s one thing I can be grateful for today

I designed and worded these questions to promote continuous improvement without negative self-talk, and to finish the day with gratitude.

Notice that they all say “one thing” – this is deliberate to make the practice easy to adopt and quick to implement. The funny thing is, I usually think of a few answers for each question.

You could use this technique at the end of a work day, for example on the commute home or as you walk out of the building, to reflect on the work day or project you are working on.

Let me know in the comments if you think you’ll give this a go and what you think of the idea (personal and/or work).

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Watch All My Pluralsight Courses For Free This Weekend

This weekend (Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th of November 2019) you can watch all my Pluralsight courses for free.

You could also watch an entire skills path such as C# Unit Testing with xUnit or C# Unit Testing with NUnit.

The free weekend starts November 22nd at 10:00am Mountain Time.

Check this link for the full list of all my courses.

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One Simple Technique to Help Achieve Your Goals

As the New Year approaches and people start to comment “I can’t believe it’s November”, thoughts start to turn to New Year’s Resolutions and things not accomplished in this year.

Whilst I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions per se, rather I try to adopt a mindset of continuous improvement, the end of the year is a great time for reflection.

At the start of each year, I make use of the Three Wins Technique to think about 3 goals (aka “wins”) for the year.

Whether you like to make New Year’s Resolutions, use the 3 Wins or another technique, there’s one thing that a lot of people don’t seem to do…

…and that’s to write them down.

It sounds silly, “I know what I want to do next year”, but for some reason, somehow, writing down your goals gives them power.

You could write them on sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror so you see them every day. You could write them on a bit of paper and keep them in your wallet, purse, handbag, backpack, etc. You could (as I do) have a OneNote page for every year with my 3 Wins listed at the top with check boxes next to them.

The important thing is to write them down.

Since I started writing down what I wanted to achieve, I have achieved more. Maybe not everything, but still more.

I’m not saying “write it down and trust in manifestation”, you’ve still got to do the work, but at least start by writing down what you want to achieve.

If you think this sounds silly, why not give it a go anyway? Take your goals, write them down,and see what happens…

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Learning xUnit .NET Unit Testing the Easy Way

If you’re getting started with .NET or you’ve done some testing but want to know how to put it all together and also learn some additional tools then the new xUnit.net testing path from Pluralsight may be of interest (you can also get started viewing for free with a trial).

The path currently has the following individual courses (including some of my courses) taking you right from the basics of xUnit.net to more advanced techniques:

  • Testing .NET Code with xUnit.net: Getting Started
  • Mocking in .NET Core Unit Tests with Moq: Getting Started
  • Creating Maintainable Contexts for Automated Testing
  • Writing Testable Code
  • Building a Pragmatic Unit Test Suite
  • Improving Unit Tests with Fluent Assertions
  • Better .NET Unit Tests with AutoFixture: Get Started
  • Approval Tests for .NET

If you’re already skilled with xUnit.net you may find some of the other courses in the path useful.

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Watch My Pluralsight Courses For Free This Weekend

If you don’t have a Pluralsight subscription and you want to watch my courses you can this weekend for FREE!

Click the ad below to get started and then once you've signed up for your free weekend, head over to MY LIST OF COURSES to get started!

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Learning .NET Unit Testing the Easy Way

Knowing what you need to know is hard. Sometimes harder than the learning itself.

Many years ago I was getting started with .NET v1 and .NET unit testing, Agile had recently been “invented” and I had a printout of the agile manifesto on the office wall. I was also learning Test Driven Development (TDD), mocking, unit testing frameworks, assertions, data driven testing.

I remember it being a little overwhelming at times, so much to learn with fragments of information scattered around but no clearly defined path to follow to get where I knew I wanted to be: proficient and efficient in writing high quality, tested and testable code.

Today things are a little easier but there can still be the: “I don’t know what I need to know”.

This is where skills paths from Pluralsight can be super helpful. I wish I had had them all those years ago.

A path is a curated collection of courses in a specific order to get you to where you need to be for a specific learning goal.

I’m super proud to have contributed to the C# Unit Testing with NUnit Pluralsight path which at the time of writing you can start to watch for free with a Pluralsight free trial.

While it’s certainly possible that you could find the information and learn the topics yourself, you would also waste so much time in getting the information from disparate sources and trying to “meta learn” what it is you don’t know. Ultimately it depends on how much free time you have and how efficient you want to be at learning. You should always keep the end goal in mind and weigh up the costs/benefits/risks of the different ways of getting to that goal. If you want to learn to “how to write clean, testable code, all the way from writing your first test to mocking out dependencies to developing a pragmatic suite of unit tests for your application” then the C# Unit Testing with NUnit path may be your most efficient approach to get to your goal.

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Three Wins Technique Review - a Simple Productivity Hack to Deliver What Matters

I started using the Three Wins Technique about five years ago. It has proven to be a simple technique to help me focus on, and deliver, what is important.

The Three Wins Technique is very simple to implement, you can do it on paper, sticky notes, OneNote, Evernote or any other tool for that matter. You can read more about it in this 2014 article. I first learned about the concept from Getting Results the Agile Way, and while I don’t use that whole system, I’ve found that using the idea of three wins is beneficial as a standalone technique.

A Quick Overview of the Three Wins Technique

Essentially you define (and actually write down) what three things you want to get done. Sounds simple but it can be incredibly powerful when done properly. The wins should not just be simply tasks to be ticked off, they should be “wins” – things that make you feel a sense of accomplishment and progress when you complete them.

How I Use the Three Wins Technique

Wins can be defined for whatever timeframe you want (weekly, monthly, etc.). I define wins at four levels:

  1. What are the 3 wins for this year (I define these in January each year).
  2. What are the 3 wins for this month (defined at the start of each month).
  3. What are the 3 wins for this week (defined on Monday morning).
  4. What are the 3 wins for today.

When defining the daily wins I glance at this week’s wins. When I’m, writing down this week’s 3 wins I glance at this month’s wins. When I’m writing down this month’s wins I glance at this year’s 3 wins.

This method means that the overarching wins for the year are always kept in mind when defining more granular wins. The more granular wins (daily, weekly) should usually contribute to progress on the year’s wins. This isn’t always the case though as other things still need to be done that don’t directly contribute to a yearly win.

If you find that your more granular wins are almost never contributing to the yearly wins then you either have a problem with your focus or incorrect or unrealistic yearly wins. - Tweet This

I use OneNote for most of my note taking/planning/etc. Below is a screenshot mock-up of what my 3 wins page looks like, I create a new page at the start of each year so I can look back at all the wins from the previous years.

Using OneNote to plan and track your 3 win

Notice in the preceding screenshot, one of the Jan wins is marked with a “!” – I use this when I fail to achieve a win, this helps me to notice failure patterns.

You could have separate 3 wins pages for work life, personal life, fitness/health, etc. or combine categories – whatever works best for you. I tend to use the technique for work-related things, but given the success I’ve had with it I should probably start using it in other areas of my life. I may also start to create 3 wins for the decade to provide some long term perspective.

If you give this technique a try and find it useful, please share this page with your fellow developers, friends, and colleagues.

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