I meet many people that would like to learn programming to build something, or they already know how to create things but because of lack of time or willingness are not realizing their plans. If you are the one of this person I got only one piece of advice for you. Stop talking, start doing something to make it happen.
In this post, I described some of the planning process tips and tricks. The next posts will be more technical, with some tips on how to make it easier/faster to deploy, monitor, etc. 🤖 If you don’s see the link to this post, sign-up to the newsletter because work is in progress. I will shoot small notification when it’s ready or follow me on Twitter.
Don’t use online tools for planning
You will waste your time one finding the right tool for sure, learning how to use it and finally you will get the info that you need to pay for it if you would like to do something more advanced. Piece of paper and pen should be enough, don’t make it too complex. We are not building a space shuffle (yet).
Be MVP focused
Every time I build something for myself I’m noticing that I wasted so much time on solutions that were wrong from the beginning. It’s easy to get lost at some point in the features list. Take sticky notes, and write “Keep it simple stupid” or “It’s an MVP”. It’s much much easier to add some features to existing product instead of polishing it for next 2 or 3 weeks. People love simple solutions, and simple tools, because it’s easier to get into. You don’t want to build too complex because complex systems sometimes need complex UI, and complex UI needs more documentation. Do you like to write documentation? I’m sure you don’t, so save your time and increase the success rate.
TODO list is a junk door
and setting reminders are at a specific time is pointless. TODO list is not how are you get things done. If you put something on your TODO list that means it’s not that important to do this right now. It’s like a “nice to have” list, and in my case, this list grew over time. Eventually, I was forgetting about going through this list. I find out that some of the things are not that important as I was thinking when I was adding them. I started to clean the list to keep it short and nice and I had many iterations like this. How many things I do thanks to that? Not more than 10% for sure, and I wasted too much time on this.
Reminders will make you unhappy
Adding the reminder to the TODO item is not helping in terms of planning it’s getting even worse. My point was to force my self to do things so I started adding alerts for specific date and time to remember about this. Usually when I was getting a notification about doing something I was busy, away from the computer or just tired to make it. Usually, I was postponing this using “Remind me tomorrow” and tomorrow I was getting into the same situation, so I eventually removing the item from the list instead of doing this. 😣
Use calendar, but don’t over use it
I’m not going too deep into this, because it’s very common advice. Set up small goals, don’t be too optimistic, because it works badly for your morale. A calendar is a great and undervalued tool for visualizing your time. Create an event and setup ~2 hours for doing tasks add an alert when you should start and more important when you should stop working on this. You can also put the name of the task in the event title to focus on one task instead of doing “anything”.
Write on paper
If you work with a computer, it’s easy to get distracted by thoughts or ideas that you got during the working time. You start searching the internet or checking something, and… BOOM you are doing something else instead of focusing on the task. In such cases paper with written TODO list is very helpful and reminds you that you got tasks to do. Keep it in front yourself between you and the keyboard to have easy access to it.
Task by task
Did you know that when you are listening to music and scrolling the web page, the processor in your computer is not doing these things simultaneously? It processes a small part of song bytes, push it further, saves current state and switches, process some instructions to calculate how much you would like to scroll the page, saves the current state of calculations, retrieves the state for playing music and so on. The most time consuming is switching the context, but fortunately, you don’t need to work like that. Focus your work on one task, start it, work on it, finish it. Take the next one.
Reduce sound distraction
Everybody listens to music, everybody has some favorite music type or band. But I would like to encourage you to try to work in silence or try to use Noisli with productivity mode. In my case this was a big change, I didn’t realize that listening to music during work can slow down me. I wasn’t aware of this fact until someday I had some issues with an internet connection. I couldn’t use Spotify, so needed to finish my work in silence.
Prepare for the next round
The next post will focus more on tooling, different approaches for setting up. I will provide more technical stuff and practical advice. If you are not familiar with DevOps you should definitely wait for my next post. 😀