Seeing the Forest for the Trees, or, Seeing the Trees for the Forest

When I was younger, I used to paint quite a bit.  There were many times when I would be gritting my teeth, feeling the tension in my neck, frustrated at being unable to get something just right or not being able to see what I was missing.  I would have to walk away for a couple of hours, days, weeks, or months (in the case of the one behind my bed, years).  When I would come back and look at it with a fresh mind, it was so easy to see what was wrong.  Bad proportions, not enough shadow, need for detail in more areas, whatever.  But I would pretty much always be able to see it the instant I set eyes on it when I came back to it.

This system that we’ve been building since June is in a very intense phase of testing, and there have been times when I spent a full day beating it up.  I wouldn’t be able to see anything new at all, but would know the system was not bug-free.  Intensely frustrated, I refused to give up because of the time limit imposed.

This was the wrong decision.

By taking just a few minutes and walking away, I was able to come back a little more clear-headed and calm and get a fresh eye on things.  It can be the same way when you are writing user stories; you think about something for so long that you feel like you have everything, then when you go to put it on the board you see that a piece of acceptance criteria is blatantly missing.  Or when you’re developing something and you miss something really obvious because you’re so mired in the details.

This could be a post promoting pomodoro, it could be promoting an iterative process, I don’t really know what it is.  I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes you need to make sure that when you’re creating something, it’s good to step away and come back with a fresh eye. 

Take 5 and get a little brain massage and come back to it; “wasting” five minutes to  recharge/reset your brain is better than thrashing for an hour and ending up completely frustrated and with holes in your project.

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