First make the change easy, then make the easy change

This quote is from Kent Beck, a software developer and the creator of the extreme programming methodology.

Refactoring code can be a challenge. Software projects tend to grow with time. If left unchecked they can become unruly and hard to reason about. Spaghetti code is a term that’s never too far from such a mess.

In a way, this quote is saying “first do what you should have always been doing; being organized” and “then do what you came here to do in the first place (add a feature, fix a bug).”

Although the context here is software development, the spirit of the quote can be applied elsewhere. When I find myself stuck between differing choices I have to make, I’ll refer to this quote. I’ll ask myself “why is the decision difficult to make?” Inevitably it is because my thoughts are not organized and I am not adequately informed to feel comfortable with any decision.

I then take the time to do the work I should have done. After that, the decision tends to be much easier.