Changelog everything and improve your motivation, skills and products

It's time to stop thinking of changelogs as something limited to software development and more about the every day nature of growing a business

Changelogs provide more than a tool to your end-users, they are a historical archive of your progress and in those frustrating times where things don’t go as planned, they become an invaluable resource in project post mortems. We think of documenting our failures as somehow inherently weak but those who can’t learn from their failings are destined to repeat them.

So how does one go about documenting their progress using a changelog tool? Firstly stop thinking of changelogs as something that is inherent to just the software side of the business and instead think about what you’ve done on any given day as a whole. Consider everything from what analytical tools you looked at, where you decided to spend some marketing time and yes, what software changes you’ve made.

Public or Private?

Consider if you want to make these changes public - there are of course plenty of benefits to doing things transparency when doing so, but equally, it might constrain you to be less honest with the pitfalls and challenges you’ve faced. If you feel your business requires you to present a constant professional look then set your changelog to private.

One of the benefits of having your changelog private is you’ll find you worry less about how you’re writing and more about what you’ve done. The very act of typing up what you've achieved in any given timeframe can present to you an amazing sense of clarity and open up new ideas.

If you’re a programmer you might have heard about doing this with code: Rubber Duck Debugging as it’s known. The principal is when you’re encountering issues you run explain your code to… well a rubber duck. The concept being that by the very act of explaining it out loud you discover faults that otherwise you could not internally visualise.

With release notes and changelogs, you can take the concept of Rubber Duck Debugging and extend it out not just to the software side of the business but the business as a whole. Going through changes you’ve made and why you’ve made them can become enlightening. We spend so much of the day inside of our own heads that often we lose the ability to see simple solutions or new ideas.

Motivating changes

It’s also incredibly motivating. Like most people, I have fleeting moments where I feel like I’ve achieved nothing for weeks and yet I can quickly login to my ChangeCrab changelog and see what I’ve been working on, where the time has gone, and more importantly remind myself that actually a lot has been archived and things are moving forward.

Though I’m about as far from a neuroscientist as you can get, there is actual scientific proof that the act of writing things down helps you engage with them more. By writing (or typing!) we’re forcing our brain to analyse what has been done - getting an abstract concept of progress into written language takes a great deal of mental capacity and that in turn helps our brain encode the information better.

So go ahead and make a changelog not just for the programming side of what you’re doing but the whole of your business. Make release notes not just for your customers but for yourself. Speaking of which - with ChangeCrab you can make unlimited private and public changelogs and you have full control over who can access them.

Now if you don’t mind I’m off to write what I’ve done today into my changelog.

Tata for now! Dan.

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