Brooks’ Law: Adding Manpower to a Late Project Makes It Later

  Brooks’ law is the observation that “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later”. Applied broadly, this principle denotes that when it comes to various types of projects, adding more resources—especially more people—is often unhelpful and even counterproductive. Brooks’ law has important implications when it comes to personal and organizational productivity, so …

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The Napoleon Technique: Postponing Things to Increase Productivity

  The Napoleon technique is a productivity technique that involves postponing dealing with something, if there is a good chance that it will get properly resolved without your immediate input. For example, based on the Napoleon technique, you could decide to wait a day before replying to emails that ask for your advice on non-urgent …

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Bikeshedding and the Law of Triviality: Why People Focus on Minor Issues

  Bikeshedding (also referred to as the law of triviality) describes a phenomenon where people spend a relatively large amount of time, energy, and other resources dealing with relatively minor issues. For example, a corporate committee who engages in bikeshedding might spend more time discussing the construction of a small bikeshed compared to the construction of an …

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Premature Optimization: What It Is and How to Avoid It

  Premature optimization involves trying to improve something when it’s too early to do so. For example, a software developer could engage in premature optimization by spending a lot of time perfecting a certain piece of code, even though it’s unclear whether this code will actually be needed. Similarly, someone could engage in premature optimization …

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Deadlines: How Effective Time Constraints Can Boost Productivity

  A deadline is a point in time by which something must be done. Deadlines can be implemented by and for various types of entities, such as individuals and companies, and in various types of domains, such as school and the workplace. Deadlines can be beneficial in various ways, so it’s worthwhile to understand how …

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Good Enough is Good Enough: Let Go of Perfectionism to Get Things Done

  The principle of good enough suggests that you should identify the point past which putting more resources into something won’t improve it in a meaningful manner, so you should finish with it and move on. Essentially, this means that you should embrace the idea that good enough is good enough, instead of wasting valuable …

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The Pareto Principle: 80% of Outcomes Come from 20% of Causes

  The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) is the adage that in many situations, 80% of outcomes are derived from 20% of causes. For example, the Pareto principle could mean that, when it comes to movies, 20% of the films that are being shown in cinemas are responsible for 80% of the ticket …

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Mise en Place: How to Be More Efficient in the Kitchen and in Life

  Mise en place (pronounced mee-zon-plas) is a French culinary term which means “putting in place”, and which denotes that you should plan and prepare for a task before you start working on it. Mise en place is most often used in a culinary context, where it signifies that you should prepare all the necessary …

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