Tag Archives: productivity

Water color painting by Cory Gugler - Energist

How I tricked myself into being productive

It was Friday night, I just wanted to relax, but I have a 11 day streak going on Github. I think to myself, it doesn’t matter, I can take a day off.

I look at the bugs/feature requests I logged in github for Shatter.js, and realize, well, upgrading Phaser won’t take too long, and at least I’ll have done something productive on it today.

So there I am, upgrading the code and fixing the example. Something I’ve needed to do for awhile, and I got it done when otherwise I was going to settle down with a glass of whiskey and let my brain have the night off. I successfully tricked myself into being productive.

Sometimes just getting started is all I need to get motivated. I know once I get started on something that I’ll work longer than I intend to and I’ll enjoy it. The hard part is just getting started.

The procrastination beast has it’s hold on me all the time, keeping me from starting anything. I think it will take too much time, or I find a million other little things to do with my time and all of the sudden it’s way too late to make any progress on my project, so I’ll do it tomorrow. In fact, tomorrow I’ll work twice as long! Yeah, that’ll happen for sure!

I don’t know what my apprehension to get started is. I feel like my brain knows it’s not going to get instant gratification so it tells me I need to read a couple more articles, or browse for more things I can add to my read-later or do-later list. I often look at all the things I want to do and get overwhelmed, and do nothing at all.

Since I started trying to keep up a streak on Github, I find myself working a lot more, and a lot more consistently.

I think to myself, well, let me just get one or two commits out of the way so I can relax the rest of the night. Maybe tonight I’ll just update some documentation, I’ve been needing to do that for awhile. I start to update docs, and next thing I notice a couple hours have passed and I’ve re-factored code and added some functions that I’ve been meaning to add for weeks.

I fool myself. I know once I get started I’ll enjoy what I’m doing, but it never fails, every time I think about getting started there is this apprehension, something holding me back. But I’ve almost never come out of it afterwards unhappy that I did it.

Occasionally I’ll have some really unproductive coding sessions. Maybe I only end up updating some documentation, but at least I showed up. The more often I manage to show up the more often I’m likely to show up again.

After a few weeks I realize I’ve almost completed this project. It’s not nearly so enormous and insurmountable when I tell myself I’ll just make a few commits a day. What’s really perplexing is that I know this already. I know iterative progress is how to get things done. I’ve known all these tricks to get yourself started. Like the 5 minute rule. Tell yourself you’ll do something for 5 minutes and you end up going a lot longer once you get started. I’ve read tons of ‘productivity hack’ articles and books. But the problem comes when I know that I likely will go longer that 5 minutes, and decide to put off the 5 minutes b/c of it. It’s like double procrastination. My procrastinating brain to too clever for these parlor tricks. I know you can’t expect to build something of high quality quickly, yet I still expect to be able to pump out a bunch of great projects, but at the end of the day/week/month/year, I realize, I barely did shit. I was too overwhelmed with the scale of the projects I want to complete, and the amount of knowledge I need to learn to get there.

I’ll just take things one commit at a time.