Thoughts on Providing Solutions, Learning, Culture, and Distractions

I didn’t do much technical work today besides some front-end debugging. Instead I did a lot of administrative and project management work and ended up thinking a lot about how I work.

Here is what I thought about.

Always provide a solution

As a consultant, you aren’t paid to tell people they have problems. They already know that and chose to hire you. It is your job to provide solutions.

Instead of being negative or saying that a proposal can’t be done, try to get at the heart of the request and offer an alternative solution. You and your clients will be much happier.

As things get frustrating, it is easy to take the, “look how messed up this thing is” route. But that isn’t your job. You need to roll up your sleeves, brew some coffee, and come up with a solution.


I find time and time again that I retain so much more of what I learn if I’m applying it as I’m learning. So why do I continue to use books with pre-designed activities that I mindlessly copy? Because it is a lot easier than coming up with a project from scratch.

From now on I’m applying what I learn in my own way. No more copying examples. I’m going to figure it out and learn it the hard way.


  • Sometimes you need to find software that is a better fit for your culture. But sometimes you need to take a hard look at the culture and its ability to adapt if there doesn’t seem to be any good solution.
  • Like learning, sometimes cultural change only comes the hard way: Adapting because it is necessary.


  • Second screens are great for productivity when you are in the zone. Unfortunately they are also great for procrastination when you aren’t in the zone. Sometimes you need to turn that second screen off and focus on one thing at a time.
  • Filter, filter, filter. Reduce the number of things that can distract you. If you don’t need to make a decision on it, don’t let yourself see it. For example, in Excel, if you only need to read items that have a specific attribute, filter your view by that specific attribute and hide the rest.

Idea for a Slack bot: What is distracting you right now?

  • Regular messages (10, 2, and 4?) via Slack
  • Respond with comma separated items that are distracting me.
  • Save those responses in a database for later analysis

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