Skip to content

Five Behaviors That Guarantee Nothing Gets Shipped

Anti-patterns for success and how to flip them

5 min read
Five Behaviors That Guarantee Nothing Gets Shipped
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

Have you ever wondered why nothing ever gets shipped to production? Why doesn’t anything get published?

Some of the reasons can be found in the most common human behaviors for procrastination, and studying these anti-patterns for success can help us all be more successful in completing projects.

Let’s dive in!

1. Talking more than doing

To bulletproof your lack of deliveries and make sure you don’t ship anything at all, make sure you spend more time talking ABOUT your work than DOING the work.

Aspirations and sharing your intentions are great; they put your mindset on the path to deliberate action. But if it is not tied to any specific goal or you don’t take action and follow those aspirations, you will not walk your talk. That will eventually affect your credibility and your ambition to carry on.

What needs to be added here is the closure of a cycle. When we don’t take deliberate action, we don’t have anything to complete. If we don’t complete any work, there is no end to the cycle.

How to start walking your talk

As humans, we get motivated through a sense of completion. If we start to prove to ourselves that we can do the things we talk about doing, we are making sure to close the cycle. And we grow our confidence to the next task and then the next.

Eventually, we have momentum. And we can keep finalizing the tasks — one small step at a time.

2. Over-committing

A safe way to get into the well-known state of “analysis paralysis” is to take on more than you can handle.

You are running multiple projects at once.

And you approach too big projects.

The number and size of your projects will affect your level of commitment.

Knowing how much you can put on your plate is a direct indicator of (word for knowing yourself)

How to under-commit and over-deliver

Start small. Ship smaller projects and show (to yourself and your team) that you can get things done.

Whenever you get a new project on your table, start splitting it into smaller chunks and be clear on the problem you are trying to solve.

Are there multiple problems? How are they linked? Which is the first one you can solve the quickest?

3. Jumping between tools and techniques

Context switching is a mind-killer. Even worse is mindlessly jumping between tools, techniques, and working methods.

You try to over-rely on an excellent productivity method labeled as the reason for another team’s success.

Trust me; I have been there. You are trying out multiple productivity tools with a clear purpose of why I switched tools from the beginning. If you decide to change to a new tool that you know will affect your productivity, do yourself a favor and list the shortcomings of your current one. That will give you fuel and indicators for what your new tool would help you solve.

If you act on a “feeling” that the new shiny tool is better, you will spend valuable time learning a new setup and way of working without knowing which root problem you are trying to solve. You have officially become a member of the cargo cult.

How to stay choose the right tools

Most tools out there are good enough to get your work done. You must be intentional about why you use a particular device or technique and how it can serve you best.

Take project management software, for instance. There are numerous tools out there serving the purpose of helping you plan your work effectively. Most are unique and have found a specific niche and use case to serve their users well.

  • Seamless scheduling? TeamGantt
  • Coordinate workloads? Timely
  • Better project communication? Basecamp
  • Simplified, streamlined collaboration? Asana
  • Visibility and coordination? Trello

Pick one that best serves your focus.

All of them will do the work despite what your grand vision is. But which one has that specific edge that corresponds to your preferred way of working? Pick that!

4. Start more than you finish

The most proven way to never finalize your projects is to start new tasks more often than you finish old ones.

There is a certain amount of time available each day. That is fixed. Most of us have full-time jobs, family life, and hobbies to nurture, and the time spent on a specific project is irreplaceable.

It is easier to start since you have that feeling of freshness. It is starting from a clean slate. That is always nice. But as soon as things generate a little friction, it is too tempting to look away for that new, exciting project that will only take 1 hour to complete…

And there you are, juggling a new project while trying to fix the friction in the old one.

How to get things done

There are numerous “Getting things done” books out there and tons and tons of online resources on how to be more effective and productive.

A few steps I usually take when balancing family life, full-time job, and passion projects is to start tracking my time.

Where do I NEED to spend the most time, and what do I have left after that?

One hour, maybe 2 hours?

Good; I then map that number to how many hours per day I need for my project. Usually, it matches, and that is the single thing I do. I say no to everything else that is new.

Let’s also not forget that not all projects NEED to be finished perfectly. Sometimes we are better off leaving initiated projects without spending more time on them. Nothing is more destructive than spending low-intensity energy on something that never gets done and doesn’t have a clear goal. In those cases, you are better off just leaving.

“Et Voilá,” you have already started a new habit.

I know these are not groundbreaking insights by any means. But the most effective solutions are sometimes the simplest.

5. Don’t reflect

You never take time to stop and think:

What did I do right? What worked well? What didn’t work at all? How can I make things differently?

Working in an execution-only mode without any intro-or retrospection is a recipe for making the same mistakes repeatedly. Nothing of value gets done. You only execute reactively. Based on other peoples’ or teams’ priorities.

How to be more reflective

This power habit can make you take leaps in your personal growth and professional career.

This is nothing you magically become better at. As with all habits and skills, you must train yourself and your team to reflect.

Dedicate a calm physical space and drop everything you do. Preferably right after a cycle end, booked at a time that serves you best.

A casual walk and talk is natural and effective. You get some movement and fresh air, spending quality time with a colleague to discuss and openly reflect.

Let’s say one-week or two-week cycles if you have a regular cadence. You dedicate one hour or “enough time” to reflect on what went well and what can be improved. Note down specific actions you should focus on in your next cycle.

Now that I have rambled enough on how you can

Software DevelopmentPersonal Growth