Blog Post

Make Progress, Even When You’re Stuck

Mariah Grey
Mariah GreyFriday, November 17, 2023
Make Progress, Even When You’re Stuck

Here at Echobind, we’re constantly approaching design, strategy, and engineering challenges that take quite a bit of time. Our goal is to work smarter, not harder to solve these issues. We recognize that working smarter is about finding the most efficient methods and increasing effectiveness. When we do this, we’re better with our time. With that in mind, we live by the 15-minute rule. It’s a simple way for our team to ask for help and recognize the signs that it’s time to loop someone else in.

What is the 15-minute rule?

The 15-Minute Rule is relatively straightforward: If you spend 15 minutes (or for the larger scoped problems, longer than estimated) on the same problem without making progress, stop and ask for help. If help isn’t available, move on to something else and come back to the original problem when you can get another set of eyes.

If you google the “15-Minute Rule,” you’ll find a variety of ways people apply it. For some, it’s similar to our approach — essentially preventing us from going down hours-long rabbit holes and spinning our wheels on a problem. For others, it’s to help limit procrastination. The spirit of the rule, however it’s applied, is time boxing.

Benefits of the 15-minute rule

Normally, getting another person to work with you helps reveal a better approach - perhaps one you didn’t know or see initially.

Some of the challenges we handle require a lot of time and focus, but the fifteen-minute rule helps us recognize when we are spending too much time on a problem.

It can help with procrastination. Sometimes, that next ticket might seem daunting, but knowing that you can spend fifteen focused minutes on it before asking for help is the push you need.

When to follow the 15-minute rule

The more time we spend trying to resolve an issue, the more likely we are to become fatigued and start making mistakes. We may become more focused on the problem and less focused on the bigger picture. This leads to less creativity as we become trapped in a narrower way of thinking. Cue the ✨ 15-minute rule ✨.

So, how do you know when it is time to ask for help?

  1. You have been working on a problem for more time than estimated, with little progress.
  2. You feel overwhelmed or blocked and can’t see a way forward.
  3. You don’t yet have the experience in this area to solve the problem on your own.
  4. The consequences of not solving this problem will impact your project.

Knowing it’s the right time to ask for help is important for our professional growth and leads to better problem-solving skills in the future. The next time you find yourself stuck on a problem, reach out for help.

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