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I Don't Have Time (github.com)
178 points by mileszs 1847 days ago | hide | past | web | 33 comments | favorite

You may have heard of paying yourself first to gain success in personal finance. Well, if you're looking to expend your energy on some passion project, you need to dedicate your first energy of the day to that passion project.

If you have to go somewhere you're not passionate about for your 9-5, it's unlikely you'll be excited about working on anything when you get home. If you wake up on Saturday and go straight to the yard work or laundry or other domestic tasks, you're not going to want to skip that family picnic in the afternoon to work on your novel.

Expend your first energy every day on your project. This is even easier if you're a consultant or similar entrepreneur and you can set your own schedule. 30 minutes, 2 hours, whatever, take your best and most productive work and put it into your passion. Then give your leftovers to the other stuff you do to get by.

>>You may have heard of paying yourself first to gain success in personal finance.

Can you elaborate more on this.

This comes from a book called The Richest Man in Babylon


It's a very quick read, and you can probably find it online for free, as it's nearly 100 years old.

Everything you need to know about being financially successful, in parable format.

Other resources in similar vein but modernized are the Get Rich Slowly and I Will Teach you to be Rich websites.

In particular, Get Rich Slowly definitely resonates with me. The blog is not well organized for someone who just jumps in, but Forbes has a good getting-started reading list:


The site:


Start with this article:


Disclaimer: I'm not rich and I don't apply most of the tenets above !!! but at least I'm self-aware (which I guess is a step 1 to recover, I hope).

While much of the content is very reasonable it should be taken with a grain of salt considering it was originally created as marketing for banking and insurance companies. Obviously it is better for their business models if everyone invests in their businesses through savings accounts, insurance, and banking investment programs. Savings accounts (and often investments) can pay less than the cost of inflation, especially counting in the banking costs. Savings and investing are naturally good ideas, but stable goods such as land are often the best investment.

I'm not the OP, but it just means that when you get your paycheck, immediately deposit a certain amount into savings. Since your paycheck seems smaller, you'll hopefully spend less.

I know (not well anymore) someone who owned a business (multiple I think) who's said that same saying and I'm sure I've read it somewhere else. I always assumed it meant: when you have a business treat yourself as an employee and pay yourself so that you don't use all the money (on business needs is all I can think of: staplers, paper, etc) and can pay your bills.

I might have misunderstood it or whatever but I always thought it made a bit of sense since you need to take some money home at the end of the day.

this is an americanism, i think. not being one, when i first heard it, i found it confusing too.

what it means is that you put some money away for yourself (ie, pay yourself) before you spend it (ie, pay others).

if you're hearing it the first time, it sounds like the opposite of saving. i, for one, upon hearing it for the first time interpreted it as: "do something good for yourself, ie spend it on yourself" :)

that's part of it. You then need to put that money to work earning more money by investing it.

Author here - I'd be keen to hear if anyone has had success with different productivity systems for breaking done the big goals into smaller items. I've had varying amounts of success with pomodoros and personal kanban - but always interested in trying out something new.

What works for me is trying to find the right way of 'tricking' myself. Every few months I feel like I have a week that is not as productive as I believe I could have been, I then basically try a trick (often something that worked for me in the past, but sometime a new trick that I might find on a site like this one).

Some tricks that have worked have been:

1. Pomodoro (actually more specifically: http://tomato.es/).

2. Redefining what I wanted to get done: For example, I used to want to run 30 minutes 5 days a week, but found that I was not able to start doing it because of being busy, tired, or for some excuse. So, I chose a distance that I could easily do in 20 minutes and decided that no matter what I had to do the distance, if only by walking. Not only did I do it with this new definition, but my excuse of being busy driving me to actually run instead of walk.

3. Making a commitment with a friend on a similar topic: This would mean reading at the same time, cooking, sleeping, etc.

4. Getting a new toy related to the task to get me to do something slightly different. This could be buying a new book on the topic, or a pad to take notes.

5. Making a commitment to much smaller sub goals when doing the task.

6. Trying to list and prioritize the easier sub-tasks so that I fool myself into making progress.

7. The carrot and the stick: I let myself get a nice breakfast outside when I wake up earlier (or do something that I have been needing to do), and I sometime say that there has to be some penalty (like not sleeping until I finish atleast one task).

8. First thing in the morning: Trying to do a quick version of the task before I do anything morning. This to me means before making any decisions (involved in serious tasks), as well as before consuming any content (blog posts, e-mails, etc).

To add a little more to the above, I take pride in me persevering, so if I actually do try a new 'trick', I work at it - often taking a few weeks to make it happen. And I often get it into my routine if only for a few more weeks.

Awesome! Thanks so much for this list.

I really like the one about waking up earlier, I think I'll try that out sometime.

Divide and conquer always works, especially when you are chasing tasks that can't be comprehended as a monolithic entity.

During chasing any big task you need.

    a. A way to break them down in logical chunks.
    b. Way to manage and execute them.
    c. Way of measuring progress and tracking feedback.
    d. Small chunks of iteration, where you can execute, take feedback and adapt quickly.
How you do this, is left to individual convenience.

I have heard many productivity techniques but I haven't read each of them in details how they work because well... I don't have time to read them in details. A 20 pages summary would probably fit me better.

Having said that, I've been building http://nbaschedules.appspot.com since October 20th (last weekend) one feature per day. An example of what I viewed as a feature: Facebook and Twitter share buttons, adding Google Maps to each stadium, adding navigation (first release didn't have a nav), etc.

I have a 6 month old kid and a full-time job in a "semi-startup" company. I also spend all of my son's waking hours to play with him. I wouldn't want to sacrifice that time slot even for a single second.

A progress is a progress is a progress. I suppose that's my core principle. Always work on something that contributes to the goal, no matter how big or small that is.

PS: This small website is just a personal playground to learn the whole SEO/Internet Marketing stuffs. Opinions and Advises are more than welcome since I'm fairly newbie (please be gentle!).

The blocking factor is not always time. But it is probably the most frequent excuse because it is socially acceptable.

Another way my brother formulates the OP proposal is "Start with small stone first. Try breaking bigger stones when you've mastered breaking the small stones".

Completely different achievement here. Backstory: I was fit as a student: I could climb a 15m rope up with hands only, was completing 5c/6a climbs (French grade), was regularly skating around town and on a karting track, mountain biking my bike up 1000m and freeriding back down...

Then I got a stable relationship, a job, and a car. Before I knew it I grew lazy, fat, weak, and increasingly sad and spiteful. It took me a few years to actually get I was slipping down a dangerous slope and a little more to find I was the only one to blame.

It's been four years and I lost 15kg, slowly, regularly. I can ride again to work without turning into a pouch of water, turned from unable to run 1km without panting to death to running 10km not effortlessly but "easily" nonetheless. Food also improved a lot, both in volume and quality. Net result is I feel healthy again, both in my body and in my mind.

Here's the solution I came up with:

- step 1: make it a habit

- step 2: make it a habit (for real)

- step 3: wait

The first thing is actually getting that I do have the time to take care of myself, if only I want to take it. I bounded that time, just to be psychologically sure of it and not skip. First goal was running 2km without panting. Then running 3km under 20min. At some point of course I could run much longer but it would take more time (not that it was really a problem to do it, but it could become an excuse, the easy way out). So I made running the latter trivial, so that I'd have even less of a reason to skip. Alternatively, if I could not run for some reason I'd do some exercise (abs, push-ups, dips) instead for the same amount of time. Again, the goal was to minimize friction, exercises I could practice anywhere, anytime (e.g for dips I use two chairs), without failing the habit, and not thinking about it. The same basically goes for food, where I traded a high fat, high carb, processed food diet for something much much more balanced.

Also, trigger the high. At some point when running (or whatever) you just feel good because of the adrenaline rush (I may use music to help that, and running outside and focusing on your lesser used senses, especially touch, helps a lot). This is important as it triggers the reward system and helps making it a habit for real (and on step 1 it's really easy to delude yourself into thinking you have made it a habit when you really did not). Yes I'm voluntarily hacking my body to make it dependent on something, for my own good. And now when I skip doing sports or eating properly, I miss it, physically, in a very short time (short enough that the habit never breaks), not enough to feel bad but just enough to carry on. And the next day or the following one, I'm back in my habit.

I still got some work to do to regain original fit but I'm on my way there (extrapolations tell me next year), and now that I'm skateboarding, some even farther day from now I'll land a casper-to-casper (Rodney Mullen is a skateboard hacker[0]) and why not, run a marathon. Everything is possible, it just doesn't happen overnight.

[0] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU7s-opqViM

I don't understand. How come this seemingly personal blog is on github.com? Thanks!

I publish my personal blog on http://pages.github.com/. HN only displays the github portion of the domain, sorry for any confusion.

If you have time to be reading HN, you have time to do a chunk of work on something.

While I definitely spend too much time on HN browsing casually, it has on numerous occasions acted as a spark in my own creativity for personal side projects

Easy to say for starting a project, but I find the "finishing touches" are always discouraging.

I can count the number of software projects I've finished on zero hands, unless you define "project" as a meaninglessly-small component of something larger (e.g. tweaking some copy). Even for software that you write to solve your own problems, your requirements tend to change over time so even that seems to never be done. With personal projects its worse, as (at least for me) they're not a way to make money so I have almost no incentive to add that last bit of polish and call it a day.

To combat this, I like to occasionally do projects with a more concrete finish - almost certainly NOT something software-related. Even something as mundane as cleaning my bedroom or some trivial home improvement type task. The more visual the result, the better.

It's so easy to get lost in this ongoing big picture that you feel like you're never accomplishing anything. I'm sure by breaking it down into smaller projects some people will better recognize their progress, but I find that doesn't work consistently enough. Maybe I'm not breaking stuff down far enough - definitely less than a day, probably a couple-hour task.

"Indeed, there is even a saying among painters: "A painting is never finished, you just stop working on it." This idea will be familiar to anyone who has worked on software."


I first heard about Jonathan Hardesty and his journey in when I was still in high school. I started drawing everyday for about a year, but sadly I'm not as focused as him and shifted gears towards programming.

I have his thread bookmarked and show it to people who want to learn something new and what is possible with enough dedication.

I'm planning on revisiting art via "generative art", this time with code mixed in. Already bought Generative Design[1], and can't wait to get started.

[1]: http://www.generative-gestaltung.de

Absolutely true that gradual progress is very powerful.

I write 500 words a day on my personal site at http://kibabase.com. Some articles are not as good as others, but they can get better though mericeless editing. I estimated I have 19K words of content thus far.

A famous writer was asked to give a speech at a conference for people who were trying to get published. He agreed. On the appointed day he walked to the front of the auditorium, stood at the podium, and asked "Why aren't all of you home writing?" and sat down.

There is also the cases where you are so interested in something that you can't keep away from it. The 10,000 hours of practice happens by themselves. You don't need to "trick" yourself to do it, because it's so much fun so you do it anyway.

I love this idea. I have a few side projects that I'm working on, and while I can't work on them full-time, I still try to dedicate a small portion of time daily to help them progress.

Any form of art specially something like writing can't come out of shallow thinking. In age of productivity, we do thinking out of doing and less based in "calling."

True, but you're missing the main thrust of the "I could never do that, I don't have time!" comment.

It's an excuse for not trying. If you don't have time to try, you can't fail.

'I don't have time' is just an excuse!Just do it right now!

Don't go to work and abandon your family! That book won't write itself. Think positive!


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