Doing invisible work

I am not the best at estimating how long a feature would take to be developed. I have been told that I am far too optimistic. I thought about this a bit and I realised that this is absolutely true.

I spend quite a lot of my free time thinking about the various problems we're attempting to solve at work. It is, of course, a real privilege to be able to do that in the first place and I don't take this for granted.

What this means is, I carry out a lot of experiments while obsessing over these problems. Some of these experiments eventually get to a point where I can polish them enough so that we can use them.

However, a lot of these experiments lead to nothing. It's not a time-waste in itself. Most of the time, this would mean that I've probably already evaluated why something may or may not work for us.

This helps me personally to estimate a bit more optimistically but doesn't paint an accurate picture for the rest of the team. A lot of times, I also estimate far more conservatively because my weekend experiments have led me to believe that the problem is not as straightforward as it originally seemed.

My wife recently pointed out to me that I should have started documenting my experiments years ago, so that at least the companies I work or have worked for are aware of the amount of effort I put into my work which should help with feedback, reviews and potential promotions.

I am also not entirely sure how I can make the work I do, outside of work, for my work, more visible. I have long thought about keeping a hype doc. Maybe I will start it now.

Written on Aug 13, 2023