Ship something today

Aim to ship something every day.

This post is directed at software engineers, but this mindset applies to any industry or project.

I developed this goal while reading Getting Real by 37signals. The chapter “Seek and Celebrate Small Victories” begins with “Release something today”, and continues with “Ask yourself “What can we do and release in 4 hours?” And then do it.””

Breakdown

Let’s break it down.

Ship.

To ship or release means to put out into the world. That can mean taking something in your head and sharing it with your team, or your team taking something and sharing it with the org or the world. The idea is to move information from your possession and get it out into the world.

Something.

An artifact: a code review, a design document, a tool, a prototype, a proposal, or any “thing” that solves a problem or helps solve a problem.

Today.

Any day that you are working, whether on work or personal projects.

Why?

Why is this a worthy goal to take up?

It gives structure to your day. Instead of starting a work day with the ambiguous goal of “getting things done”, you start it with the clear goal to complete task x and send something out by the end of the day.

It creates excitement and momentum. Shipping stuff and seeing others ship stuff creates motivation. It creates a high energy environment where teammates constantly feed off of each other’s work. That energy translates to the team culture, product, and to the customer.

It forces you to break up your projects into small digestible pieces. For example, instead of working on a giant code review for a week, you’re forced to break it up into smaller pieces, each taking less than a day at a time. In this scenario, not only will your reviewers be happy they don’t have to review 10 pages of code at once, but you’ll get faster, more frequent, and more thorough feedback. And if you’re headed in a bad direction, you’ll find out sooner.

In the end, it promotes progress. You either have to make headway on your project and get something out today, or abandon the project for now.

I’ve been practicing this goal for a few months now. It’s led me to more decisive action and clear objectives. So here’s my challenge to you, ship something today.