To paraphrase my colleague, Dave Neary, cookie licking is when you volunteer to do something and underestimate the commitment required. Then, instead of stepping back so someone else can do the work, you keep the task marked as yours, preventing someone with time from taking it. This can also manifest as staying on as part of a leadership group you don’t have time for, thereby creating a block on consensus and decision making when you don’t have time to show up.
The calendar New Year, for many of us, is a psychological reset and reflection point. With this in mind, I decided to make a goal of stopping some of the cookie licking I am doing. To this end, I followed this quick and relatively painless plan.
- I thought about my real goals and concerns. I have several things I want to be part of my life more, that means I need more space/time. By thinking about those in an abstract (and quick sense), I can easily judge everything else on this list.
- I reviewed my social media. This isn’t going to be one of those “Quit <social media service> Now!” pieces. Suffice it to say, I have one service I have been slowly deprecating. A quick review confirmed it is mostly ‘dead to me’ and I took the next step in that turn down journey.
What’s important about this step is that it shows you don’t have to spend all the time to go to "zero," but you can begin the signalling process. This is key to stepping back from cookie licking.
- I reviewed my calendar for the next month. I said ‘No to this and all future events’ on a bunch of meetings I don’t need to be in, but felt like I should be in. The vast majority of them were meetings I hadn’t attended in months.
- I logged into all of the git forges I use (pagure.io, GitLab, GitHub, and some work ones) and reviewed each project I had commit rights on. My goal was to determine my next step with the project:
- Archive the project: Projects where I was the only committer and there is zero activity or need should be archived (or marked as archived)
- Notify that I am no longer maintaining: Projects where I am the only committer, but that have value need to have an issue/post asking for a new maintainer and affirming I can’t do it
- Notify that I can no longer help maintain: Projects where I am not the only committer, should have a note sent to the other committers expressing my need to let others help
- Looked at my email for lists and merchants I should unsubscribe too. I also looked at projects notifying me in my git forges for the same. My goal here was a quick cut of email I am not reading anyway.
- Reviewed all my email older than 90 days that is in an active folder/label. The vast majority of it could be deleted via email bankruptcy. This was even easier for me, as I have a standing task to try to do this every month.
These should fast and easy decisions. If you’re agonizing about something, put it to the side and then re-review it at the end. If you’re stuck, think more about the future (step 1). Don’t let guilt be your reason, instead determine how it helps others and you for you to keep doing or not doing something.