It’s easy to put your head down and just work on what you think needs to be done. It’s a lot harder to pull your head up and ask why. Here are some important questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re doing work that matters:
Why are you doing this?
Ever find yourself working on something without knowing exactly why? Someone just told you to do it. It’s pretty common, actually. That’s why it’s important to ask why you’re working on this. What is this for? Who benefits? What’s the motivation behind it? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better understand the work itself.
What problem are you solving?
What’s the problem? Are customers confused? Are you confused? Is something not clear enough? Was something not possible before that should be possible now? Sometimes when you ask these questions, you’ll find you’re solving an imaginary problem. That’s when it’s time to stop and reevaluate what the hell you’re doing!
Is this actually useful?
Are you making something useful or just making something? It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with usefulness. Sometimes it’s fine to play a bit and build something cool. But eventually you’ve got to stop and ask yourself if it’s useful, too. Cool wears off. Useful never does!
Are you adding value?
Adding something is easy; adding value is hard. Is this thing you’re working on actually making your product more valuable for customers? Can they get more out of it than they did before? Sometimes things you think are adding value actually subtract from it. Too much ketchup can ruin the fries. Value is about balance! (I’m not yet wise enough to say something like this, it’s a famous quote)
We Said This: I still have more questions than answers to ask you about. Keep asking yourself -and others- these questions. You don’t need to make it a formal process, but don’t let it slide, either.