This post was inspired by Olivier Lacan’s tweet that I spotted around the time I was feeling a little bummed about my current position. Don’t get me wrong, being an executive at one of the largest educational software companies is an absolutely amazing experience, and one that I’m truly grateful for. My dream has always been to create software that made lives easier. And that’s exactly what I’m doing, but in a different role. I started out at 15 years old building punters (and whatnot) for AOL in Visual Basic and watching companies like 2Advanced dominate the web with their insane Flash skills. I was hooked the second I completed my first line of code and immediately went out and landed a job as a porter at a water park (I would’ve taken anything) to fund my first laptop purchase. So, as you can imagine, the thought of not being able to code anymore felt like someone was smashing a screwdriver into the side of my head.
I really wanted to do something about it. So, I decided to take the last 2 weeks of 2013 off and spend my time focusing on one thing – and one thing only – learning something new. I’d been staring at a few different libraries and languages all year that I wanted to get my hands on, but finding the time to do so was a challenge. Or, what I later came to realize, was much easier than I had thought. I desperately wanted to find a way to not only excel at my day-to-day job, but also continue on with my passion of developing. I’ve always been a workaholic who put in countless hours day-in and day-out, so finding more time wasn’t going to be an option. I researched a ton of different tips and tricks online, but none of them were a fit for me. To be honest, I didn’t even waste my time testing them out. I’m a doer by nature, and a little – alright, extremely – impatient, so I need to be able to do things as they arise.
Here are a few things that I’ve realized work for me:
- When you have an inspired thought for an article, create a note in an app like Evernote and throw a few bullets in there. When you think of something else related to that topic, open it up and throw a few more in. Before you know it, you’ll have an article worth of information that just needs to be formatted. You can do that on the bowl. 😉
- When you think of a solution to something you’ve been stuck on or have a sweet idea for a new feature in your project, jump in and attack it. I can’t even count how many times I’ve thought of something great and jotted down a note or two on how I’d do it and I either never got around to it, or had no clue what any of those notes meant. Implement it at that moment it’s fresh in your brain or set a time to be alerted in the very near future (after your meeting, etc.) and get to it. If you can’t get to it within a relatively short period of time than either write some ridiculously elaborate notes or do what I started doing and use a voice recorder. To me, it’s a much quicker way of getting all of your thoughts out.
- Go to bed just one hour later every night if you can’t find the time during your day to get in some development work. It might not seem like a lot; however, seven hours a week of solid work that’s been previously planned out is much better than none! Plus, I’ve read some studies recently relating to the amount of sleep you need and one less hour, depending on how much sleep you currently get a night, could actually be a good thing. Check out this article and see. I’m not sure how legitimate it is, but I’m running with it.
I’ve also made it a personal goal to write at least one post a month – big or small – and what do you know? This is my second and it’s still January! Plus, I squeezed in time to build a new WordPress theme from the ground up (not this one) and also committed some long awaited updates to the Ready Set Raphael SVG converter and made it open source.
All I can say is find what works for you. But, definitely try and find it.
BONUS: Make yourself a cup of Bulletproof coffee and watch your production go through the roof! I was skeptical at first, but now that I’ve tried it, I won’t work another day without it.
DOUBLE BONUS: John Resig posted an excellent article, “Write Code Every Day”, about making time to work on side projects without affecting your daily work. I definitely recommend it.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and/or what works best for you.