My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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This week's advice from MJWTI deals with making the "boring" tasks in software development more exciting (in the chapter, "How Good A Job Can I Do Today?")

Chad notes that although "it's rewarding to do a good job and to be appreciated," most time, "we allow ourselves to be extremely selective about where and when we really go out of our way to excel."

So, if the Pareto principle applies here, how can we make the 80% boring work be more like the exciting 20%, and go all out, doing our best?

Chad suggests making it a competition with yourself:
What if you tried to do the boring stuff perfectly?
Or, if you want to get competitive with your teammates,
Turn those boring tasks into a competition with your co-workers. See who can do them better... Keep a scoreboard for the whole team. Compete for bragging rights (or even prizes). At the end of a project, arrange for the winner to have his or her grunt work done by the rest of the team for a whole week.
Would that help? I've already resolved to do the boring work with a smile, but something like that might help the smile not feel forced.

What do you think?

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I find it interesting that lots of people write about how to produce clean code, how to do good design, taking care about language choice, interfaces, etc, but few people write about the cases where there isn't time. I've really been trying to improve over the past >7 years and I consider the poor maintainter who will come after me, but I now seem to have a reputation as a perfectionist, usually in a negative sense. So, I need to know what are the forces that tell you to use a jolly good bodge? And when that isn't abuse. {A search for [bodge pattern] turns up several items...about knitting. :-)}

Posted by hgs on Feb 15, 2008 at 10:38 AM UTC - 6 hrs

To make "boring" tasks more exciting, you could always take the extra step to try and automate them, if it applies.

Posted by JAlpino on Feb 15, 2008 at 11:34 AM UTC - 6 hrs

@JAlpino - Good point!

@hgs: I think that's an interesting question and I started to write a response here, but I want to give it a bit more thought and throw it out there on Monday. I'll post the link here when I've done it.

Posted by Sammy Larbi on Feb 15, 2008 at 02:11 PM UTC - 6 hrs

Thank you. I suppose being better at applying YAGNI may be part of the answer, but hopefully you've seen what I'm driving at, even if I can't express it well. I'll look forward to your thoughts.

Posted by hgs on Feb 15, 2008 at 02:21 PM UTC - 6 hrs

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