What I learned from Jon & Kate plus Eight

Or, learning to love process/order and prevent chaos

TLC’s show Jon & Kate plus Eight has both of us hooked.  We started watching after we learned we were expecting Nicholas, partially in a funny "At least we don’t have eight kids" way.  But the show is entertaining, and has given us a couple of clues about being parents that might be helpful down the road.  Nothing super revelatory, but stuff that is good to hear again.

oWatching the recap show about parenting, Kate said something to the effect that "Without order we’d have chaos and then the kids would rule the house."  Specifically, both of them talked about how important it is to keep a very regular schedule for the kids.  So that, for example, they know that noon is lunch time and its time to be quiet and sit at the table.  Of course, as the kids grow they may try to disrupt the schedule, but the every day routine is key to keeping their household running day-to-day.  Not just operating, mind you, but operating so that the parents aren’t over stressed and so that the children also learn how to behave and develop good habits.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed myself at work becoming much crankier about people not following processes or making up for a lack of organization with "urgency" and hustle. It’s not that I don’t appreciate that, as a client focused services firm the need to be flexible.  Its that, as a programmer, although this goes I think for any role at work, I have a number of client projects that require my attention on any day.  The "little" tasks and tweaks that push themselves to the top of my queue come at the expense of  attention to other client requests.  And when a particular task, like debugging a broken site or implementing a new feature, requires by necessity a good, uninterrupted stretch of time to focus on it, the disruptions are even more magnified.

What am I asking for?  At the core, I’d like to not have tasks dropped in my lap at the last minute, which are urgent because adequate planning was not done to get them assigned and worked on.  I’d also like people to actually follow the recommended best practices for Task delegation, Resource planning, and Bug tracking.

Does this mean I think any of my co-workers are childish, or immature, or somehow not competent.  By no means.  I’m merely saying that work could be a lot less chaotic and stressful if we all were disciplined about sticking to agreed upon processes.  Am I perfect in this regard?  Hardly.  There are a lot of habits I know I need to work on to get better at, particularly in avoiding distractions at work so I’m not wasting time on less important, but sometimes personally more interesting, tasks.