usable in any place a human can be used



[caption id="attachment_558" align="alignright" width="300" caption="its beauty is only matched by its cliffy-ness... or something"]cliff edge[/caption]

I had to make a hard decision today, it was one that I had known I would have to make at some point, and frankly I was just putting it off. I've written about burnout before and I'm no stranger to pushing myself harder than I should. But I like to think that because I'm aware of the danger and am actively working to avoid burnout that I can push myself, and still maintain some sanity.

Part of maintaining sanity is knowing one's limits. I have a full-time job, prosper, and until today 2 side projects. Today I resigned from one of my side projects and I released any code or concepts I had worked on to the other developer. It was not something that I particularly looked forward to doing, but I had to prioritize. I had to dispassionately measure the various aspects of my life and make a cut before I burned out and lost everything.

Now I'm left with a strange feeling, almost ashamed that I let down the other party, but at the same time a sense of relief has come over me. After I made sure that I didn't burn down any professional bridges, another wave of relief. Looking forward in my calendar and seeing all the time I've got to work on Prosper and my other side project, a wave of excitement. The problem was that I was spread too thin, at my limit, I was pushing ahead 110% but not moving anything forward. Now though I feel back in control, pushing ahead and making things happen again.

I've given this new attitude a shot in the arm over the last few days. For the last few days I've been knocking out tasks that have been long outstanding and non-trivial. It's easy to trick yourself into thinking you are being productive by banging out a few quick trivial tasks and checking some stuff off the todo list, but picking long standing non-trivial tasks is important.

My girlfriend's father's computer was the first such task. It's hard drive died, and I've had it for far too long. What should have been a simple diagnostic-swap-reimage was bedeviled by problems. I didn't have the right keyboard to perform the diagnostic (all my usb keyboards were read by the bios but not the ubcd prompt), then the replacement drive I was provided was the wrong type, and the recovery disks were all oddly labeled. The task itself though is not that difficult, get the right drive, swap, get the right disk, click click type, wait 4 hours for reimaging. The giant tower sitting there day after day had become a constant and depressing embodiment of my inability to move tasks forward. Yesterday though I finally hooked it all up, found the right disk (on the third try) and reimaged it. Everything works fine now and the problem is solved.

For the presentation I'm giving at CodeMash I plan on doing a live demo, I needed to pin this completely down to the last detail and do all the boring set up work so the presentation can be all whiz-bang cool. After an hour or two hacking around this is now done. My minimal PowerPoint presentation is well on its way to being complete. Getting these non-trivial roadblocks out of my way is freeing up my mind to think of other things, to begin figuring out how to move other things forward.

My suggestion for anyone feeling overwhelmed is twofold. Be realistic, are you taking on too much, I was, it happens to the best of us. It's never a great feeling to admit that you've overextended yourself, but it's much better than just constantly being overextended. Are there tasks that are constantly at the back of your mind, nagging todo's that you keep putting off, well just tackle them. It's not fun, but when you put them off they start growing larger and larger in your mind's eye. The live demo only took around an hour to code through, even though in my mind it was important and therefore a monumental task.

Pick out one of those tasks that's been on your todo list for a while, knock it out, just having it done is worth the work.

1 comment:

  1. Shared the presentation with a google doc, sliderocket, or otherwise. Let your online community (ok it might be just me, those hacker news guys and gals are hard to win over as repeat visitors), give some feedback if you like.