Get It Right EVERY TIME (not just the first time)

Get It Right EVERY TIME (not just the first time)

Technology
This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life One of the cool things about working with developers, sysadmins, and customers is that the environment is changing constantly. The Habit We technical folks often fall into one of two mindsets when we're working through a problem.  We either get laser focused on the end goal -- forsaking any and all incremental improvements along the way in favor of that sweet victory that waits for us in the end, or we revel in the flow of the technical process itself until we are surprised -- if not a little let down -- in the end when we've implemented an elegant solution.  This is natural.  It's why we're good at what we do. But if…
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Complete Work Faster and Better With Scrum

Complete Work Faster and Better With Scrum

Technology
This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life I'll go ahead and assume you know what Scrum is.  If not, look it up - there are tons of people who can provide a far better and more complete explanation than I.  My team is technically too small for Scrum, but we use it in the best way we can, and have really seen amazing results with it. The parts of scrum that have proven most revolutionary for me: Understanding how to assess the priority of work Being able to accurately estimate the amount of effort and time required to complete the work Scrum provides the team with a level of self awareness that helps us confidently accept new work, and to recommend alternatives when…
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Keep Email in its Box with Inbox Zero

Keep Email in its Box with Inbox Zero

Self-help, Technology
This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life We all have a love/hate relationship with email, except maybe without the love. Yes, email is terrible, but it’s part of life so we may as well deal with it in this guide. I recommend looking at email at least once per day and no more often than three or four times per day, depending on the length of your work day. If you’re an eight-to-fiver, twice is plenty. If you run from five am to midnight, you may need to deal with email as many as four times a day. The Habit Check sometime in the morning. Schedule it AROUND your big rocks. Give it anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes and…
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Online Meetings and Collaboration

Online Meetings and Collaboration

Products I Love, Technology
This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life The Habit Online meetings can be just as productive as a meeting held in person, provided everyone remembers that the meeting is still a meeting. Turn your camera on.  It seems weird at first but it doesn't take very long before it feels normal, and makes a huge difference in the quality of the conversations you can have. Especially in larger meetings and when some attendees are present via phone only, announce who you are when you're talking.  It takes no extra time to do, and brings refreshing clarity to the call.  Not only is it courteous to other attendees, others can focus more clearly on your comments and questions when they're not trying…
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Why I Keep My Files in Dropbox

Why I Keep My Files in Dropbox

Products I Love, Technology
This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life Dropbox for File Sharing Free with paid version available for home users with large amounts of data enhanced collaboration features for business Dropbox makes it a breeze to sync files between multiple computers and multiple people. It is simply a must-have application for anyone who needs access to files from multiple places. Even more than that, if you need to share files with business associates, Dropbox makes this task a breeze. You simply set up your files in your own folder structure and share only the specific files and folders you need to share. You have complete control over who has access to the files, and you get notifications anytime someone updates them.…
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On Sunsetting Code

On Sunsetting Code

Self-help, Technology
Today I took a call from a colleague asking if we could extend an existing app to support new changes that had been made in the business. When scoping the project and prioritizing we realized that we have outgrown the app and need to replace it with a 3rd party solution in order to provide the level of scale we want to provide without having to add weeks of development time and priority waits. Before I move on, just a quick note of nostalgia about that killer app. 15 years ago I wrote an application to provide us with a repository of information. We called it our knowledgebase. If we learned how to do something for a client our practice became to "add it to the KB" so we could…
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Set Boundaries with Your Time and Money

Set Boundaries with Your Time and Money

Howto, Self-help, Technology
This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life The Habits TIME BLOCKING The Covey organization does a fabulous job of describing life as boulders, rocks, pebbles, and sand. You’ve likely heard the analogy a dozen different ways, but it goes something like this. Picture your life as a jar and things to do like things you put inside the jar. Fill the jar halfway with sand then try putting in 20 large rocks and you’ll run out of jar before your run out of rocks. Start with the rocks, however, and you’ll find that the sand just finds a place to live inside the jar. It’s a great analogy for life. If we prioritize the things that are most important, the…
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How to Round Up by Quarter Hour in T-SQL

Howto, Technology
If life should ever punish you by challenging you to round up decimals by a quarter of an hour – always up and never down – here’s a liferaft In a scenario where you wish for 2.04 to be rounded up to 2.25 instead of down to 2.00: [crayon-5b75e04770a58869122941/] This solution is based on the solution posted in 2001 on VBForums - props to original poster MartinLiss! http://www.vbforums.com/showthread.php?64997-Rounding-to-nearest-25&s=c6a62b3deef741b3d7aaf8d10e8a9032&p=292208&viewfull=1#post292208  
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Weekly Review and Planning

Weekly Review and Planning

Howto, Self-help, Technology
This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life For the past year I've kept a habit that has helped me significantly to grow professionally and to be more productive.  That habit is what I call the weekly review and planning pause.  This simple, 30 minute appointment is on my calendar toward the end of each week for the purpose of helping me assess what I did, whether or not I'm proud of what I did, and what I'm going to do next week to do as well as or better than I did this week. The goods with this one are in the repetition.  A wise guy once said to me "perfect practice makes for perfect performance," and I believe it.  What we practice…
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Shrink Your Window to Reduce Time Spent Writing (and Reading) Emails

Shrink Your Window to Reduce Time Spent Writing (and Reading) Emails

Technology
Email is expensive to write, and expensive to read.  It costs our organizations vast amounts of time (aka money) to communicate with email.  Worse, email is far less effective at communicating ideas, and is utterly useless in the human interaction department. My advice is to avoid email whenever possible, and choose instead face-to-face communication, followed by phone or video calls, followed by just about anything other than email. Finally, when we simply must use email, this simple hack helps us to spend less time writing emails, and helps the readers of our emails spend less time reading them: Open your email program Create a new email Shrink the new email window to about half the size of your cell phone.  It's okay to hold your cell phone up to the screen.…
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