Adding new features vs making things better

When changes get made to something it usually involves adding a new feature, improving an existing one or both.

But sometimes the addition of something new isn’t helpful, you’d be better off improving what’s already there. Often adding something new is about innovation and creativity which doesn’t always result in an improved experience for the user or customer.

There can end up being so much focus on the exciting stuff that the basics get pushed aside.

Le’ts say you sell plain t-shirts and the stitching is poor quality to the point where it’s loose. You could improve what is already there by making the stitching better on the next batch or you could add something new like embroidery, a new neckline or a different length.

If you’re focused on adding new things you’ll end up with a poor quality t-shirt with embroidery on it when you could have had a good quality t-shirt that is plain. Once you get the basics right, you’re now in a better position to start adding new features.

Do something that scares you

Halloween is the perfect time of year to be reminded to do something that scares you. It could be watching a psychological thriller that gives you heart palpitations and nightmares for a week. It could also be speaking up when you have something to say, saying no instead of yes or making an appointment with your doctor about something that’s been worrying you.

When things scare us our immediate reaction is often to run away from it because in our minds that makes sense and it’ll keep us safe. However, when you run away from something, you’re actually just avoiding it. It might not be an issue for today but it’ll be still be there tomorrow. And when you avoid something but know that you’ll have to face it eventually, you end up heightening the fear.

Suddenly, just the thought of speaking up is giving you heart palpitations and affecting how you sleep.

You have the option to face the thing that scares you and do what needs to be done. The outcome might not be perfect but what matters is that you tried. You might speak up and feel like you didn’t get your points across well. But if you keep speaking up you’ll keep improving. Then, one day it won’t even be something you have to think about, you’ll just do it.

Setting boundaries badly

I think a big reason why we sometimes avoid setting boundaries is because we think don’t know how to do it. However, it turns out the setting boundaries is like everything else, getting good takes practice.

And so like Zig Ziglar said ‘anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn to do it well’.

Instead of shying away from setting boundaries because you think you’ll do it badly, embrace where you’re at and in time you’ll get better at it.

How to be a better listener

Don’t offer advice
Don’t offer advice until the person asks for it. People often make the assumption that when someone is talking about an issue they want to be told what to do. However, many times a person just wants to express themselves and feel heard.

Show that your engaged verbally
Muttering a generic hmmm, every now and then is sometimes what is done to portray a false sense of engagement but often the case is you’re probably just not interested. The ‘hmmm’ can also be a sign that you want to let them know you’re listening. You can also use short phrases like ‘I can’t imagine what that’s been like’ or ‘that must be difficult’ to show you’re engaged or you could ask questions.

Show that you’re engaged physically
Looking at your phone, being turned away from the person and not making eye contact can show a lack of interest. Don’t be distracted, have your body facing them and make eye contact.

Lastly, two things to remember, if you don’t want to listen then just say so instead of doing it half heartedly. Secondly, you can’t expect someone will want to come and talk to you if you don’t show that you’re interested in what they have to say.

Bad habits

There could be habits you have that you have carried with you thorough your life for so long that you aren’t even aware the impact they have on your life.

Perhaps, you assume that those habits are ‘just the way you are’ rather than them being something you could change.

Sticking with what you know is easy, comfortable and familiar even when it negatively impacts your life.

And so you do nothing.

That’s why I’m such an advocate for regular reflection. In doing so you’re able to identify the habits you currently have and understand how they impact your life. It could be something like you always wanting to be right because you believe that you know more than most.

This may result in people not wanting to engage in conversations with you because you’re now seen as closed minded, someone that is not open to other points of view. In turn maybe you’re unable to develop close relationships because your desire to always be right pushes people away as they don’t feel respected and they find you frustrating.

Identifying that bad habit and deciding to let it go could be the catalyst to solve many of the problems that you regularly encounter.

Of course, it rarely feels good to know that you’re the problem as it forces you to take responsibility instead of the playing the blame game. But in the grand scheme of things perhaps it is much better to know that the problem begins with you and your bad habits because that way you know that the problems can end with you too.

The people and the work

The idea that what you are doing might not be good enough can be difficult to accept. Especially when that might be the reason why people aren’t supporting your work.

It’s much easier to hide behind the excuse that people just aren’t supporting you because you’re not popular but if it was *insert name of celebrity*, they’d be all over it.

That could be true for some situations but it isn’t always the case.

On the flipside, instead of playing the blame game you could accept that maybe your work needs work.

Instead of feeling frustrated that you aren’t getting enough support take some time out hone your craft, learn something new and improve. Then put your work out again.

If it’s better received great but if not then maybe you need to change the people you’re sharing it with.

You need to do better

Think of something that you’re currently working on and ask yourself with no judgement, can I do better?

When you’re not getting what you want out of life and things aren’t quite going your way, it’s easy to blame external things.

But sometimes the reason things aren’t working out is because you need to do better.

Maybe you’ve gotten lazy or maybe you weren’t aware of the effort required.

Once you’ve realised you need to do better, do better.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Useless criticism

If you have something bad to say about something but have nothing to say when it comes to how it could be better. I think that it’s a useless criticism.

It’s easy to be a critic or to complain about the way that something is but what’s the point if you can’t even offer a solution.

It’s far more useful and far more helpful to say ‘I don’t think this works very well but here’s what I think would work better…’, rather than just saying ‘That’s not a good idea’.

I think what a person says comes down to their intention to speaking up. Do you just enjoy complaining or do you want to try and find a way to make things better?

Improving average

Would you rather do something average and deliver it on time or to a high standard and late?

Many people get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect. It can get to the point where it’s difficult to hand in the completed work because that means letting go. Now the work is in someone else’s hands and you’re open to their critique or feedback.

On the other hand, submitting something average might seem like the wrong thing to do but that’s not always the case.

Firstly, let me clarify that by average I mean something you haven’t spent an excessive amount of time on. Some thing that is good but if you had a few more days or weeks would be so much better.

The thing is that sometimes progress is better than perfect.

In the case of my original question, you have two options.

You can submit late and to a high standard and then hope overtime you get better at meeting deadlines.

On the other hand, you can commit to always delivering on time and know that with practice your average will get better.

Replicating work life at home

For a lot of people they will have reached a point where they have realised working from home just isn’t the same as being in the office.

Because it isn’t.

You might find yourself less focused, less productive and more distracted, especially if you live with other people.

And so it might be helpful to find ways to replicate how you feel at work in your home.

A few ideas are:

Create a suitable working space – Even if it’s just setting up at the dining table each day. Working from the sofa or your bed isn’t a suitable environment because they’re unlikely to places that you associate with work. Also it’s helpful to create some separation so that when you log off for the day you can move to the sofa to relax or tuck yourself into bed and read.

Get dressed – Not into your work clothes but wear something presentable instead if staying in your pyjamas or wearing a worn out pair of joggers.

Follow your usual routine – Whether that’s starting your day with a cup of tea at your desk, a mid morning snack, going through your inbox for the first 30 minutes of the day, having lunch at 1.30pm, whatever it may be.