Maybe to some people, rushing to get things done saves time because you are always working with a purpose, or because you simply work quicker. Well, quite frankly, I find this to be extremely false with multiple experiences to back that up. If the term “rush hour” doesn’t immediately clear things up for you, read on.
I recently got back from Air Force ROTC Field Training. The encampment that all Air Force ROTC cadets have to go to before earning their commission. I won’t be the first to say it was fun in hindsight, however I will also go on to say I never want to do it again. Why? Everything you do must be done with a sense of urgency, you are always put on time constraints, you must always RUSH to get things done! However, that only lasts for a month, there are training purposes behind it, and it actually helped me motivate my lazy body to get back up to productive work. I am not bashing the training experience or promoting any kind of change there.
Next up: mistakes. When you rush, you make mistakes. When you work with importance and a sense of urgency, and concentrate on getting the task done right, not getting the task done timely, you don’t make (as many) mistakes. Think about trying to button your shirt in the morning. It’s so easy and natural when you are calm, collected, and not in a rush? What about when you are running 15 minutes late? There must be some law of physics that says that when you are running 15 minutes late, buttons grow so that they don’t fit through the button holes.
Let me apply this to software development. Specifically, a project that I recently worked on. I only get to work during breaks from school, so I’ve got fall break, winter break, and spring break, and now I’m on summer break. Well last winter, I was working on a project that I didn’t quite finish. Come spring break and we decided to release it as soon as possible. All I had to do was close some open ends and tidy a few things up, the rest of the work could happen during the summer. I only had a week though, and the amount of work needed seemed to grow, so I rushed.
In the midst of that rush, I completely blew off the fact that such a thing as FTP existed, I forgot all about security (plain-text passwords.. oops), and I blatantly disregarded setting up a back-up for the server. The result? I spent a day and a half working on a ‘scheme’ for publishing files to the server, luckily nothing happened to the passwords (they were for an internal tool anways) and then eventually, the server went down and no one had access to any way of restoring it except me. In fact there were parts of it that I had to redo. The funny thing is I replaced my day and a half’s worth of work by spending an hour and a half setting up an FTP server!
So what’s the conclusion? Rushing is not the greatest thing in the world. I mentioned Air Force ROTC Field Training and how I was always rushing. That’s not completely true. After a few days I learned how to work quickly, and develop a sense of urgency at the right times without actually stressing myself to a panic with rush. That’s what I was meant to learn through that specific aspect of training. Learn to work quickly, learn to work with a sense of urgency, and a sense of importance. Simply rushing will make your work more vulnerable to (stupid) mistakes.