How Often Do You Look for Feedback?

I recently got a FitBit Zip. I got the small one that fits in your pocket and tracks steps. It supposedly counts calories, too, but I’m not using the calorie part.

I have transparent data now. I am astonished at how quickly I have changed my behavior.

I knew I was barely moving. I knew that to lose weight and gain leg strength I needed to move more. When I first got the FitBit, I was only walking about 1500 steps per day. That’s like sleeping all day. (Okay, not quite, but I realized I wasn’t going to be able to lose weight on that regimen.)

I decided I could easily get to 3000 steps a day. I started to take a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood once a day.

Even with my rollator, this is not trivial for me. Our neighborhood is full of private ways. That means the streets are not all paved or were paved so long ago they may as well not be paved. We have no sidewalks. Everyone walks on the street here.

Walking this way challenges my vertigo. I need the stability of a flat surface. Well, I don’t have it here. When I first started walking, I was slow and could only do 10 minutes at a time. I had to traverse the street to go down some of the hills.

I worked up to 15 minutes. Now, I have two walks: a 12-minute walk (down from 15) and a 20-minute walk. I am working on managing the hills. I still hate going downhill. I don’t mind uphill at all. I walk at least 5000 steps a day. That’s my new minimum.

When I see the feedback every day—multiple times a day—I change my behavior. I make time for a walk. I make time for a second walk later in the day, so I don’t tire myself too much to work.

More frequent feedback works for me.

Think about your work. How often do you get feedback on your work? Would you like more feedback?

More frequent feedback is the reason small stories, small planning, and continuous integration work for software projects. More frequent feedback is the basis for making your stories smaller and working as a team to move stories across the board (regardless of your approach to software).

When you look for feedback all the time, you receive it. I’m not making my walks longer. I’m taking more of them, which is what I need. Because my legs are stronger, I find that I’m more able to do the laundry and cook. I want the steps that household chores bring. More steps are good.

What do you need to do to get more feedback yourself? Do you need a pedometer as I have, for fitness? Do you need to make the work smaller and get feedback on it in your teams? Do you need to set a goal and then break it down into smaller chunks?

When you get more frequent feedback, you have more choices about what to do next.

Dear adaptable problem solvers, that is the question this week: How often do you look for feedback?

5 thoughts on “How Often Do You Look for Feedback?”

  1. Good for you Johanna. I am glad you are moving more than before. Walking on uneven surfaces strengthens the muscles around the ankle. :-)

    1. Thanks, Hank. Yes, my ankles always need strengthening. Having vertigo means my ankles are under a ton of pressure to perform. Most of the time, they do.

  2. Greetings, again! Another one of your posts that I like very much, Johanna!

    I looked up the Fitbit Zip and found a surprising number of negative reviews — but all of them with impressive-sounding responses from the company. Will you please send me a note about your experience after a few months? Thanks, /p

      1. HI Pete, I have now used this device for about 4 months. I just replaced the battery.

        I still love it. I find that the feedback pushes me to walk more. Now that it’s cold out, I might have more trouble, but I like the fact that I have the data to help me walk more.

        As a side benefit, I have lost a few pounds. That alone would make it worth it. Curious to see if you will get something for yourself. (It doesn’t have to be a Fitbit, I’m curious what you might do.)

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