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Take a walk

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When I need to clear my head, I go for a walk.

When I need to think about a problem, I go for a walk.

When I need to plan a new talk, I go for a walk.

My companion on my walks is Trixie, a purebred Chihuahua.

Trixie is named after Bellatrix Lestrange, a character from the Harry Potter universe. It’s a bit of an inside joke, given that Helena Bonham-Carter is related to me by marriage, and, well, West isn’t my legal surname.

Trixie does not like putting on or removing her leash, but she loves walking itself. As I was walking her today, I realised that the act of taking my dog for a walk is just like embarking (no pun intended) on a new project. Getting the leash out, putting the dog in the harness, attaching it, all like requirements gathering. It’s fussy work that you need to get right.

At the end of the walk, Trixie can’t wait to get out of her leash and just wants to run into the house. That’s like the end of the project where you need to write the documentation, but you don’t really feel like it.

When you next start a new project, think of Trixie, and enjoy not just the walk, but getting the leash right in the beginning. Set yourself up for a pleasurable time, making sure all the information you need is in place. Avoid scope creep (or as my friend Jacques once put it, “scope sprint”) by planning your walk in advance. Having to pass by a big dog coming the other way is sometimes unavoidable, but if you have your leash at the correct length, it’s more manageable. Expect the best, but plan for the worst.

And when you finish your project, relish those final moments of handover, documentation, and wrapping up. If you put the leash away properly, it’s much easier to get ready the next time.

Take a walk.