Our Goals and Our Questions

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Published: 7 October, 2021

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5 mins(s) read

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Tags: #opinion #productivity

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License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 _International Public License (CC BY-NC-ND _4.0)

We all have goals and we all ask questions. Like everybody, I have a ton of goals that needs to be finished. Things I want to achieve or finish. I use todo list items to describes a goal. But when you start working on a todo list item, the thing you will have in your head won’t be goal itself, but a bunch of questions.

Goals are important though. But we often need a plan when we start working on things. Goals are essentially those plans. Goals makes our existence as humans justifiable. Because we need things. And in order for us to get things we need, we try to finish a set of tasks which will help us reach our goals. Having a plan instead of winging it all the time will help things easier for us. Todo lists are just one such “plan” or format which hosts most of our goals these days. Doing a bunch of task items from the todo lists helps us reach our goals faster. Or that is the general gist. We use a notebook or an application on our computer/smartphones to create these tasks. And when we start doing the tasks though, we end up asking questions, to ourselves or others.

Questions are in our head, at least initially. Questions most of the time are also not documented/written down anywhere like our todo list items (goals!). This means you know what you want to do but you don’t know how to do it. You still ask questions though. You often search online for answers to your questions. How do I make a website? How can I do this? How can I do that? Or you ask a friend or someone who knows better about the subject which you are meddling with. This is a problem if you think about it. Because you’d rarely document the question and the answer. Then when you ask the same question, you repeat the procedure of finding the same answer all over again. Questions are our notes, our journey. Snippets of information which constitutes a goal. We could document the answers for our questions we have in our head. This can lead to not having to ask the same question again. DRY principle anyone?

I have recently started using questions for notes instead of a heading and the answer. I try to write the question I have in my head or use the question I asked the search engine instead of using a title/heading followed by the asnwer. This has been really helpful for me cos it is much more clear. Makes the note a lot better in my opinion. When you are using a software, product, project and you are going through the documentation, where do you go first? Mostly Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Have you noticed that FAQs are far more easier and much more accessible to you than the documentation itself? That is because you already have a question in your head and you are trying to find that question in the entire documentation in the hope that you can also find the answer to them. For example, my heading for notes on git tags changed from git tags to How do I create an annotated git tag?. Because information about annonated tag is what I want. Even when I need to find something else specific to git tags, I will be searching online anyway. So why bother copy pasting the entire documentation as your note? By being specific and splitting a topic to multiple questions, I know exactly what to look for next time I encounter a question. Which is mostly a lot of times. You could even classify your questions under a specific title or heading to make it more organised. For example, all the questions about git tags can be asked under git tags heading. And this is a much better way of using headings or a title.

How do I ask better questions?

Obviously the next big question is, how and when should I ask a question? Hear are some pointers for you…

  • Ask the question to yourself first. Sometimes all you want is a rubber duck. Someone to listen the words inside your head to get the answer. That is why sometimes when you ask a question/doubt to someone, midway through the question you answer it yourself.
  • Ask the question to a search engine. You could ask the question to a search engine before asking a human. There is a high chance that what you are trying to find is already tried by someone else in the world. You might even get better ideas for the information you are trying to get.
  • DON’T BE A HELP VAMPIRE! A help vampire is someone who just ask for help without putting any effort on their own to find solution for themselves. Before you ask a question, do your due diligence so that others are not wasting their time. It will also be faster most of the times to just do the research yourself instead of waiting for somebody else’s reply.

Have thoughts or feedback regarding my post/writing? DM me on Twitter @unsungNovelty.

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