What do you take home?

Every other week, I go through my todo list and decide where I should focus my attention. I review a list of prompts that help me choose important work. One of the oldest prompts on my list is: "What will you take home at the end of the week?".

I mentioned this a while ago in this post about evaluating new tools.

I think of my career as an asset, so if I get to do work that builds transferable skills, I count that as part of my compensation. On the other hand, if I'm writing glue scripts to deal with idiosyncrasies in an internal tool, I'm missing out.

In short, the type of work I do today affects how valuable my career is in the long term. I take this into account when choosing my work.

Mozilla is really strong in this dimension. We're an open company which means I get to work in the open, work with open-source tools, and blog about my work.

Writing is a great example of taking something home. The obvious benefit is that I'll be able to reference my public writing forever. Maybe a bigger benefit is the career capital I build by improving my writing and broadening my network.

For a long time, blogging was only a small part of how I worked in the open. I got to write a bunch of code and prose on Github. I reviewed PR's in the open and commented on public bugs. I'll be able to point to that work for a long time.

For the manager, this can be a great incentive for you reports. I know working in the open played a part in my decision to work at Mozilla. As I noted in New Tools, you can help your reports take something home by using open source tools internally. These things are like instant raises that don't cost the company a dime.