For my fellow “It’s organized chaos - I know where everything is!” types

2 minute read

You know that one interview question everybody hates? The one I you’ve probably read multiple articles about how to answer? That one that has you wondering, “how honest should I be here?” C’mon, you know the one.

What’s your biggest weakness?

That’s it! I’m not going to write yet another article about how to answer it. Instead, I’ll tell you my answer.


I need it. It helps me focus, keeps me from being distracted, and makes me overall more productive. There’s just one problem: I hate making structure for myself!

Put me on a team that has defined sprint goals and well-written tickets, give me a deadline to hit, and off I go. I’ll grab a ticket, do the work, submit a pull request, update the ticket, and move on to the next one. Working on a well-organized team showed me that I can work a lot faster than I thought was possible, all thanks to structure.

This is in stark contrast to how I approach personal projects. Usually, I just start coding. Hours into that coding, and I haven’t actually produced that much code. The code I did produced is probably not that important - I almost always go down a rabbit hole that doesn’t really matter much - and I ultimately end up abandoning whatever the project is.

Why the difference?

This is a bit of self-reflection that I got into, believe or not, because of that interview question. Why is it my weakness? Why don’t I organize things? Here’s what I decided: organizing my work does not feel like work. It doesn’t feel productive. Taking it away from programming, I realize this is a common flaw in my whole life. I love having a checklist. I look at my list, complete some task, and then get the satisfaction of checking it off. But making the checklist? That doesn’t accomplish anything, I think. I should just get to work - and so I do. But then I forget to buy the groceries I needed. The core feature for my MVP doesn’t get made becaue I was trying to make a snazzy loading animation just in case, despite that my does-nothing program loads in milliseconds.

The takeaway? Making a checklist is work. Does it accomplish a task? No, of course not. Does it make accomplishing those tasks go faster? Absoultely! This little revelation brought me back to a quote I heard:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

I get it - we all want to start chopping away, completing our tasks. But a little structure - like a sharpened axe - makes the work go a lot faster.



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