Monday, October 25, 2010

Lessons learnt while saving my Pet (projects) : Hint - "Fake it"

Note: This is a follow up to my previous blog

Some months back I desperately wanted start working on my pet projects and decided to make some changes on how I manage my time. I learned the following lessons -

Fake it ( It helps ! )
"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
Remember your bachelor days, when you hadn't cleaned your room in a week and you suddenly got word  that your friends/family were on way ? Now remember how you cleaned the room in 5 minutes flat 8-)

On a normal day, it would've definitely taken you more (lot more) than 5 mins. to do the exact same work. Deadlines are wonderful things 8-) Btw, this is called the Parkinson's law, you can read more here and LOT more here. I create fake deadlines for myself. And I admit I'm addicted to them.. 8-|

Here is my experiment - The drafts of all my blogs are on fake deadlines of 12 mins. I have to write 90% of my blog in the 12* mins. It gives me a rush, the brain starts spewing out words and at the end of 12 mins. I have something that could easily have taken me 30 mins. of liesurely writing. Forget the spelling, forget the markup, just write plain words. As I have described in my previous blog, I set time for some unusual things and let the mind & body figure out a way to achieve it.

*12 mins - That's what I set for my first draft blog and it worked, hence sticking to it.

Don't start on anything without setting its deadline [ tweet this ]

Baby steps are useful especially when you grow up

Divide your goal into as smaller a task as possible. Set your smallest task 1 week apart. Since I have a regular 8-6 job, the biggest free chunks of time I get, are over the weekend. Hence setting deadlines over Sunday night works best for me. My new blog, my website enhancements, gathering information on topics, etc. all have a deadline of Sunday night. Since friends/family are important, I try to spend Friday night or first half of Saturday with them & then dive into the pet project. Since I know I have limited time to party or enjoy the company of family, I make most of it. The main point being, pick a day 7 days apart, that works best for you.

I use a simple task/deadline sheet and store it as a google document -

Having written deadlines is simple & effective & a lot better than having a deadline somewhere in the maze of neurons.

Mind is like a dog, throw it a deadline and it will run behind it, else its going to sit there and lick you crazy [ tweet this ]

This is an excellent book on training your brain - What to say when you talk to yourself

There is a reason you call it "Pet Project"
You will usually have 2 or 3 projects in mind. (I suggest no more than 3).
Alternate between them. If you feel bored/burnt out with a project, stop it and jump to another one. Give into your feelings at times. You don't want your pet project to become your office project, which needs to be completed no matter what.

This has worked wonders for me for one simple reason - When I jump into the next project, I jump with a lot of energy and I get a lot of work done. Each jump is like a sprint instead of a marathon !!

Are you planted in the correct soil ?
See yourself as a plant. You need good food for your mind, conducive air with ideas to inspire you, healthy plants around you that want to grow tall with you with ambition to prosper not just survive.

If I surround myself with garbage, I'm going to produce more garbage [Don't ask me how I know that]

Good thing is that you can change your soil.

Here is what I did - I got interested in startups and wanted to know more about them. Wanted to know what the biggest minds in the industry were thinking/doing, how they started/failed. And its not difficult to surround yourself with them -
  1. For 45 minutes listen to a CEO speak about his experiences and his advice. These podcasts fit in my mantra of following advice of people who have actually done it. I'm forever indebted to Stanford University for this.
  2. What the best minds in the industry are viewing and watching - Google Tech Talks. And contrary to the belief at times they will have a speaker who talks about something totally non-tech. I remember one of the episode was about making Kimchi and the science behind it 8-) 
Go to the iTunes podcast directory or Youtube and you'll find podcasts on every which topic. Subscribe to them, you can listen to them anywhere & everywhere.

If you don't have friends who share the same goals & ambitions you can do this -
  1. Get them involved in what your thoughts are, and many will be interested in getting along. A lot of people want to come out of their regular lives and implement their ideas, and just need that small nudge of inspiration.
  2. Make new friends - always good.
  3. If you don't find such people, be alone and work on your pet projects, slowly you will start attracting the correct people.

In summary -
  1. Deadlines are your friends - Before you start any task, give it a deadline.
  2. Alternate between projects. If bored/burned-out, switch to another pet project. Remember there is a reason you call it "Pet Project"
  3. Listen to podcasts to virtually surround yourself with good ideas & people. Of-course real people are the first choice 8-)

If you have similar ideas/hacks you employ, let me know. I'm always ready for a new baby step !

Links to books referred in the blog
What to say when you talk to yourself

Other good books

Follow me on twitter @nikhilkodilkar

No comments:

Post a Comment