The hardest part about making good software that ships on time is knowing what and when to sacrifice. As programmers and designers, we often fall in love with our requirements and are unable to kill our darlings. We mistake what we said we’ll do with what must be done. It’s rarely so; you can always do less.
What stops most people from doing less is the fear of failure. The misconception that if you don’t get it all done, the rest is worth nothing at all. That without this feature or that tweak, nobody will want to use it at all. Bollocks. Most software has a tiny essence that justifies its existence, everything after that is wants and desires mistaken for needs and necessities.
The easiest way to force the insight of what can be lived without is by playing a game of constraints: You have to ship on Friday, you can’t add more people, you can’t work nights. Fixed resources, fixed time. All that’s left to give is scope. It’s amazing how creative the cuts and sharp the sacrifices become when you’re backed into a corner. It’s when you have to choose that you make the best choices.
For every 1 day estimates of a task, there’s a simpler version of that you can do in 3 hours, and an even simpler still you can do in 30 minutes. Back yourself into a corner and these versions will vividly appear before your eye. You can always do less.