Rich talks about how thinking about something transfers the idea from your conscious mind to your unconscious mind (your big brain) where the real horsepower is. In another talk he mentions that he has been able to spend a year doing this three times in his life: one was for Clojure, one was Datomic, and one other yet-to-be-named project.
John Cleese also talks about this in his lecture on creativity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VShmtsLhkQg).
"Richard Feynman was fond of giving the following advice on
how to be a genius. You have to keep a dozen of your
favorite problems constantly present in your mind,
although by and large they will lay in a dormant state.
Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result,
test it against each of your twelve problems to see
whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a
hit, and people will say, 'How did he do it? He must be a
This is the best part of having a dog for me, especially one like mine who is perfectly happy strolling along smelling the flowers. It's always an excuse to go out, mostly at night when it's quiet, and mull over ideas.
About choosing tools. I've selected ruby first, but ruby + Qt is not stable enough (I cannot afford to look for a strange bug in a C++ binding). So I moved to Python where things are better in that regard. I started with Eclipse (because it had a good and free Python IDE) but it takes too long to boot => now I'm in emacs. So although I prefer Eclipse or Ruby, I've deliberately chosen other tools to shave a few minutes here and there. (3 minutes is 5% of the time I have so that's important)
my ten eurocents
The post addresses the biggest problem when starting side projects. After a idea is born, a prototype is built in one or two intensive days, usually at the weekend. Afterwards it's so hard to carry on, your main jobs (which is a welcome excuse to not work on your side project) takes too much time and suddenly ten days passed and you haven't worked one minute on your side project—it dies. It's difficult to pursue multiple opportunities, I usually focus on one big project and I know it's wrong.
Guess how many of those are finished.
Edit: And that isn't even including the ones from this year!
You've got way more unfinished projects than me, but they sure do pile up quicker than you think.
So, yeah. Definitely try and finish one or two that you deeply care about, but creating new stuff is what we do, and there's no shame whatsoever in a folder full of unfinished ideas.
on your list..."do x" is less powerful than ..."focus on x for xx minutes"
You're far more likely to complete the latter. No inherent expectations - just clear focus needed.
Saying that, I take real offense at the equation given in the article. "Focused energy + xx minutes + once per day = idea manifestation"?
Should it not be (focused energy + xx minutes) * once per day... Or perhaps even focused energy * xx minutes * once per day.
If you set any of those variables to 0, the outcome is 0. It's clearly a multiplication problem.
Regarding your point, I completely agree. And is why I shared this little strategy. I suppose its a form of scheduled anti-procrastination.
Otherwise a great post. The real challenge is actually doing it in practice!
Over the last 30 years or so, the media has gotten much more effective at making us slaves. We are more compelled to watch mind-numbing programs on TV, and now today play mind-numbing apps, and view mind-numbing content on the internet.
Even 'thoughtful' content like that on HN has the effect of scattering our minds and making it harder to focus on a particular task.
I think times like these 30 minutes, where you buckle down with no distractions can be very beneficial to overall productivity.
I tell myself I do programming in my free time. I tell myself that.
But then I look at my free time, and I realise I spend it all browsing HN/Reddit (occasionally)/BBC News/Forums. I don't do much programming at all. Because I get distracted far, far too easily. Sometimes I'll look back on the past week and realise I've done absolutely nothing of any value.
I've set myself 30 minutes tomorrow to work on something. Perhaps I'll finally learn Lisp and venture into functional programming, after all. Maybe I'll improve my programming skill again.
It wasn't until I learned to push myself to give my day job a top notch performance and eke out four more hours of coding at night, that things really started to take off.
It is similar to losing weight for me, in that all the mind tricks and fancy diets didn't do a thing until I learned to accept the hunger that comes with actually losing weight.
Once you see all the possible reasons people procrastinate listed in front of you, and a plan of action for each scenario, it's pretty difficult to procrastinate because every time you find yourself in a potential procrastination scenario your brain goes "oh hang on, I know what I'm doing, it's X from Feeling Good". At that point you can execute the anti-procrastination plan, or, as in my present case, I don't even bother any more because I've done it enough to know I'll invariably end up getting to work and so I just go right ahead and do it.
The key thing here is you need to (a) be committed to change and (b) you need to study the book and do the exercises. Refreshing my procrastination pattern matching memory from time to time by rereading the section is critical. Many people aren't ready to stop procrastinating because they're not ready to take action. But just like debugging code, you just have to follow the chain of dependencies until you deal with successive root causes. Prochaska's "Changing for Good" put me on the path of awareness in this regard. Once you know what your brain is doing it's pretty difficult not to make progress.
You may find evidence to support this (and other information about habits) in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Habit-What-Business/dp/14000...
From personal experience, I've found the Seinfeld Calendar to be powerful, which is similar to the idea the author wrote about. http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-se...
Actually - it is. Or at least it's often something you can often train to a reasonable facsimile of working that way.
You're right - of course - that those moments when you're not working on the project explicitly and mulling everything over are often the most important ones. But I think you often train yourself to get into the right working context very quickly.
As a scriptwriting friend of mine says "No write. No money." ;-) My musician friends - at least the ones who take it seriously - sit down and do that couple of hours of focused practice each day no matter how they feel.
I find the more often you put yourself in a situation that you need to do something, the easier it is to do something. You find ways to optimise your workflow and approach (e.g. I have a my project WIP in a vagrant VM and I write code TDD - so I spin up the VM, open the editor, see the failing test I left yesterday and boom I know what I'm doing).
If I sit around wait for inspiration - shit never get done.
The example you gave is for the main project you are working on day in day out. Yes, you can easily resume work the next day. What the OP advocating is working on multiple different projects for 30 minutes a day. It's just more difficult to context switch into multiple projects with such a short amount of time.
I recently started Project Persist, involving an hour of side-project work per working day. It has gone reasonably well, with some decent strides made, but as soon as priority work emerges, often for days at a time, the side-projects wait again. Solo-founder issue, maybe.
But it's good to see others trying to buckle down, work systematically on creating something of value to all concerned. It's tough. But rewarding results don't come easy, I guess.
Edit: Forgot to mention, I appreciate your blog design. I'm no designer, but that's no ordinary minimalist design to my untrained eye.
working on your idea, however, is different each and every day. some days, the challenges are greater. some days you may need more than 30 minutes.
point taken though, and I'll be trying harder to stick to it.
Yet you can make it more 'routine'; engraved into your daily schedule. By not approaching the specific challenges, but rather - just the minimum amount of time you have agreed with yourself is appropriate to invest. Anyone can convince themselves to do that much. And the funny thing is - the challenges then seem to work out themselves.
It takes 15 min to fully focus again on work, which was interrupted by a phone call, colleague question. That's our reality.
I would suggest to spend these 30 min on some physical activity and you'll much happier.
Corrections are welcome.
I detest people doing "science-y, maths-y" things to try and give credibility to an idea. The idea here is fine, the equation utter bilge.
For me it goes back to hearing Jeff Dachis of Razorfish doing a talk in which he mentions boolean postulates which left me in little doubt that he knew precisely as much about mathematics as you'd expect from someone with a bachelor’s degree in dance.
BTW - On the last line you mention "watts per half hour". This makes no sense here - a watt is a measure of energy over time, watts per half hour would be a measure of energy over time over time, or more neatly change in power.
@Daily 30m: [Something or other]