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Why your projects never get done

This post has been 6 years in the making…

I am sure we all have a never ending list of projects that never get done, and it is not for a lack of desire to have them completed. People’s lives are busy; you have work, school, chores, family, friends, and other commitments.

Even so, I’ve made more progress on this website since my daughter was born than any other time. It’s not because I suddenly have a bunch of free time, quite the opposite infact. Instead, the lack of free time has prompted me to be more productive with the limited time I have.

Why is it hard to make progress?

There are lots of reasons why I haven’t made progress on my projects, but here’s the ones that are most applicable to me and maybe to you too:

You don’t work on your projects

This is obvious, projects don’t get done if you don’t work on them. Like me, you probably can’t produce more free time. Instead you can make jumping back in easier by reducing the overhead to make meaningful progress. I now regularly have my MacBook next to me in the living-room with the editor open.

Additionally, consider cutting back on lesser pastimes. The sense of accomplishment is worth far more than what you got from the disappointing 8th season of Game of Thrones.

You experiment too much

You have the freedom to do whatever you want with your projects. Experimenting is a fun way to learn new skills and technologies. However, if left unchecked, it will consume all the time that you have allocated to work on your project and you will having nothing tangible to show for it.

Instead, you should timebox your experimenting to something that still allows you to make tangible progress. Experimenting is still very important, but best to avoid things that aren’t demonstrably progressing your goal.

You do everything yourself

In your projects you want to showcase your capabilities, which is why “Not invented here” is applicable for me. Until seeing my co-worker George Aristy’s website, I was spending my time writing a backend, learning frontend techniques, and researching infrastructure patterns, basically everything except writing articles. Needless to say this was not a very efficient way to achieve my goal.

I should have used existing tooling like Wordpress, Jekyll, or GitHub Pages from the start.

You need it to be perfect

“Perfect is the enemy of good”. Our projects are a creative expression of ourselves, so naturally we want them to be presented in the best light possible. Unfortunately this, more often than not, results in many projects never being considered “finished” and release worthy.

Instead, get anything that provides value out the door, what you release may very well be good enough. Once released, you can make the decision on whether you want to iterate on it.

You shift focus too often

If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of ideas. While having many ideas is great, trying to do them all at once usually means none of them get completed.

Instead, write down your ideas and save them for later. Consider using Google Keep, Evernote, or any one of the plethora of note taking applications out there. During the writing of this post I’ve had ideas for new posts, but now I can prioritize them against the rest of my projects.

Final thoughts

This 3 minute read likely wasn’t a silver-bullet for you but, hopefully, it has given a different perspective on managing your projects. Take some time to think about what’s holding you back and then write them down, seeing a problem right in front of you is a great start to addressing it.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.
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