Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One month down

It's been one month since I started working on Leaguevine full time, and it's been a very interesting experience. After being in school for 20 straight years, being on my own has been quite a shock. I now set my own schedule and am accountable only to myself. As grand as all the blogs out there make that seem, it's kind of weird actually being in the middle of it.

While I was in school, I would always have my side projects and activities that I actually cared about far more than school. While I spent most of my time on these outside activities, school has always had a constant presence. It has been an anchor and something that brings consistency to all the years of my life, even if my outside activities change. I'd become conditioned to working quickly and efficiently on my schoolwork so I could make time for my passion projects. For the last several months, I kept saying to myself how much I'd love to work solely on Leaguevine instead of having to also do relatively meaningless class work and research. But then August 1st rolled around and I didn't get into the sprint I was hoping for.

I found that during my first few weeks I often became overwhelmed into complacency. Instead of instantly working 80 hour weeks like I had planned, I was putting in 50-60 tops and couldn't really bring myself to do anymore even though I had nothing else to work on. I would take long breaks to watch youtube or play Starcraft II. And it felt like a huge waste of my time. Mostly, I felt bad that I wasn't giving the business my undivided attention.

I was being overwhelmed by a number of different things. First, there were no "real" deadlines in sight anywhere. Every deadline was just lying on a piece of paper or my google calendar and I kew I wouldn't be punished if I missed it by a few hours, days, or even weeks. Next, I had just come back from a fantastic trip to China, and had been living in "consumer" mode. I had to go back to the mindset of "what can I build today" rather than "what can I buy today". I think the thing that had the biggest stress on me was incorporating my business. I talked to about 8 lawyers, a number of non-profit clinics, a CPA, my dad, and an SBDC about getting the company set up right, and all this talking on top of reading blogs about tech startups made me feel like I wasn't getting anywhere. I was spending so much time working on the business plan and worrying about legal stuff, that I was barely writing any code. And this lack of progress on the web app just made me feel like I was falling farther behind and wasting my time.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but sometime in the last week or so a light went on and I've been fully focused on Leaguevine. I think it's because I finally got back to coding. I've become okay with the notion that this is going to be a long process that will take time, and I'm finally focusing on what I can accomplish each day and just doing that. I've been working 12+ hours a day every day this past week and I'm loving a vast majority of it. Yes, there are times when I have to do some tedious stuff, but the percentage of time in a day where I am truly enjoying what I do is higher than it was while I was in school.

I'm not sure exactly how much this has contributed to this productivity improvement, but since I had been the most lazy in the mornings, I came up with a little trick to make myself more productive right after waking up. Before going to sleep, I'd open up one of the source code files and begin adding a single line of code to it. I don't finish the line, and it doesn't even have to do anything useful, but I then turn off my monitor without even saving the file. As is typical with VI guys, I can't stand files being opened and unsaved, so the first thing I do in the morning is delete that line of code or finish it. Just this one little 3 second action gets me in the mood to develop something cool, and immediately I'm working at full speed the moment I sit down at my computer. This tip goes back to the philosophy of beating procrastination by just starting to do something.

So as this first month comes to a close, I'm working at a productivity level higher than ever before and I'm excited to see how much I can build in September!