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This. Make your _business_ case, not a technical case. This applies to software engineering, security engineering, etc.

The above comment does not absolve you from doing cool things, it's just that the cool things should align with business interests. No yak shaving. Sometimes writing a one-off script will take 30 minutes, and doing it by hand will take 10. Do it by hand.

Here's my problem.

I'm not particularly prolific, so the number of ideas I have far outweighs my execution so far. This is mostly due to ADHD and other issues which I'm working on fixing, and while contextually relevant is not my point.

This lack of prolific-ness means that I have a literal tower (it's rather intimidating) of wanting to build cute but objectively not so useful routines simply for the sake of building them.

I realize this is essentially the foundation of creativity, but I have a hard time justifying doing these things as I take a very long time to execute anything.

So, the ideas file themselves away - and surface when I'm trying to design actual things I'd like to build. And I get horribly distracted with doing X or Y a certain way, or I get carried away with how I can build Z out like this or that idea I had two years ago...

My problem is focus, I think, and mental partitioning, which I'm not good at. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can do that?

Personally written organization helps me. I like to use Trello to organize my thoughts. When you get an idea, write a quick note to get it out of your head so you can stop thinking about it. It's written down, you now have the freedom to let go and attend to it later. Schedule specific time to look at that list and put it on your Calendar so you don't forget. "I don't need to think about that right now, I made time on Sunday afternoon to prioritize and pick out which ideas are worth it." or "I will only check my ideas for things to refactor when I have a lull in my schedule, but I'm busy right now."

Also on the tower of ideas-- it's not a to-do list, you don't have to commit to every idea that flies through your head. Your ideas are a great resource for you to reach for any time you need it. A lake of ideas you only need to go fishing in when you happen to want to.

Your completely right, and it's something only someone with ADHD can understand. Depending on how bad your ADHD is, mental partitioning will be incredibly difficult thing to do and that has everything do with lack of attention/focus regulation.

You will have to find a way to develop the capabilities of your brain(working memory, long term memory, task execution and completion, focus and accuracy). You will have to do something that you have been evolved to do which is to have a creative outlet (Dancing, Music, Art) to develop those abilities. There has to be a task where you have infinite focus/hyperfocus, that builds a higher ability. In a sense you don't have to do something that is hard, but something that comes natural and something that grows.

The sequence of steps and motions that are required for dance, movement of muscles to precisely line up with the notes of a song, to reproduce the form of a drawing/painting all require some sort of mental partitioning. These things are all interrelated. I personally have only scratched the surface, because things become infinitely complex I have to decide what is the most important develop. If your lucky enough to be creative and logical these abilities will bleed into each other.

Your "problem" sounds different the one I currently deal with.

My current solution is to have a backlog and spending time to prioritize them. I'd focus on my top priority, and continue writing down new ideas as they come into my mind. When I finish with the top priority, I re-evaluate to find out where the recent ideas fit in. I'd also look into reading about the agile methodology.

If you're like me, ideas come in very frequently. Embrace your creativity and ambitions by logging them. But try and shift your mindset to thinking about what is actually necessary for the final product.

Also, "freeze" your "features" at versioned levels for each project.

If you want to add or alter something, that would be a new project.

Otherwise, you will never finish a project.

eg. "Sprints" in Agile

Like the work you deliver to your boss or client, there is a Final Product.

And yes, Agile is the best, because it's of the mindset that the Product is iterative!

ADHD sucks. I have it, too, and I somewhat solved this problem by moving into R&D, where they pay you for ideas directly. But these fields are rare (quant finance is one of them).

I also have ADHD which has reached debilitating levels at times. Noise cancelling headphones, removal of computer games, and being disciplined has helped. In all seriousness though, it's a more complex condition than most people realize and seeing a specialist is never a bad idea.

This! and know why you are building what you are building.

I printed this XKCD specifically to remind myself that some things aren't worth automating!


On the other hand, sometimes you're automating for reasons other than time savings. Maybe reproducibility or auditability.

Or the fact that the task is so mundane/boring/annoying/irritating (pick an applicable adjective) that it's worth it to you to spend a day automating it so you never have to do it again.

Great point - the benefits of automation can't always be reduced to time saved per operation. I wrote a blog post [1] about this in response to that xkcd.

[1] https://andrewstahlman.com/posts/IsItWorthTheTime.html

The problem with that is if you make a mistake the first time, then redo it by hand, you have used up 20 minutes. Made a second mistake, and you are even with automating it.

also keep in mind: https://xkcd.com/1319/

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