So, pretty much every year I decide that I’m going to be more consistent about working on my side projects, updating this blog, and generally not spending my non-work time staring vacantly at either my TV or my computer. Then it descends into half-hearted hacking on toy projects that never really achieve anything, and I’m back to wasting my weekends playing Minecraft or Fallout.
I think the problem is that I’m a bit undirected. It’s simple to determine what’s ‘productive’ for work – it’s whatever the boss tells you to do. When you’re making it up yourself it’s easy to get distracted and confuse ‘fiddling aimlessly’ with ‘being productive’ and then end up with no motivation because you don’t see any results.
So to kick start this year’s attempt at bettering myself, I’ve got a Plan.
This plan is fairly simple: each weekend day I’ll spend two distraction-free hours (no Twitter, Google Reader, email, IM, Facebook, LiveJournal, or anything) working on things. To help encourage me to do this I’ve roped in the wife, who’ll be working on her own projects during the same two hours. To keep myself focussed I’m going to use a three-point guide on what I can work on during this time. It’s pretty simple:
- Anything that directly relates to making money. This could be an iPhone app I plan to charge money for, or something I can put adverts on with a realistic expectation of seeing people click them, or an improvement to an existing venture (like my web hosting). My long-term goals require getting a lot better at making money this way, and in the short term it’ll help to increase my savings, clear debts, and help deal with my annoying mortgage.
- Anything that helps develop new usefully marketable skills, or directly helps me market myself. This would be an app using CouchDB, which I’ve not used before, or learning ObjectiveC for iOS development. It wouldn’t be writing another toy Twitter bot – but rewriting @scotfail so the code is clean and then publishing it on GitHub would count (and I do in fact plan to do this).
- Any blog post. I don’t post here enough, so time spent writing about anything relevant counts.
I’m feeling pretty confident – the first session on Saturday went really well, with a lot of progress made on the iPhone app I was fiddling with over the Christmas holidays. Since I’m now working from home primarily, I’m all set up to keep working at the weekend. Previous attempts failed because I tended to try and work while sitting on the sofa instead of sitting at my desk – but I’ve got my working environment sorted out now and I think that might actually be the most important change.
If this works, you should see more posts here – as well as counting blog posts as ‘productive’ work, I should just plain have more to write about since I should be doing more stuff on my own time. I might also be able to write about some of the stuff I’ll be doing for SourceRail, although that obviously depends on the boss saying okay!
In fact, the next post should be about my iPhone app, but I’ll talk about that once it’s ready for testing.