| June 22, 2021

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Status dumps for software engineers

A simple status dump habit to be more productive, happier, and avoid burnout.

Cara Borenstein

Cara Borenstein

Status dumps for software engineers

A Status Dump is a brief timestamped summary that covers where you’re up to and what’s next. It also includes any blockers or questions that will need to be addressed to move forward.

You can write Status Dumps at the end of the day or before taking a break at work. This makes it easier to pick back up quickly when you start again. It also allows you to more fully let go of your workload while you’re away.

A full example of a Status Dump

The following Status Dump comes from a recent feature I implemented. It includes a Date, Status, and Next Steps.

Date

The Status Dump starts with a date and time. This provides valuable context when revisiting a Status Dump from a little while earlier. It also enables you to build a valuable record for yourself that you can optionally share with your manager as you track your progress.

Most importantly, dating each entry saves you from needing to do any maintenance work later. Your entries are automatically organized and you can just keep adding to it.

Status

The second piece of the Status Dump is a status. It has a quick summary of where you’re up to in your current work. It’s written informally and quickly — as a reference for yourself. Celebrate your progress and make it easier to jump back in.

Next Steps

The last part of the update is the next steps that you’d like to complete. By writing down what’s next, you make it easy to jump in when it’s time to pick up your task. You also can free your mind of your next TODO while you’re not working.

When needed: Blocker

Sometimes a Status Dump will also include any questions or other blockers that need to be addressed before moving forward. In the following example, I was stuck at the end of the day and needed to follow-up with a teammate. By writing down what’s hanging me up, I can let it go for the day and I have a clear action item first thing the next day.

For more examples, check out how Rishi Dhanaraj uses Status Dumps in his productivity routine.

Where to write Status Dumps

You can write Status Dumps anywhere that’s most convenient to you. The most important thing is that you always use the same place so that it’s easy to find your Status Dumps later. I prefer using a tool that makes it seamless to add a new short timestamped entry, like Stashpad or Excel.

Start stashing today

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