The Importance of Doing
I've been working on a side project with a few friends, and progress has been slow. Not to say it hasn't been exciting thus far; in fact, I would hazard to say it has been the most fun I've had working on a side-project.
As I said, progress has been slow, but unlike other projects that I've worked on like this (which have failed), I actually have a pretty good feeling about where this one is headed. Why is it that this project is succeeding while many others have failed?
That's a tough question to answer, especially considering I've worked with these exact same friends and have had projects fall apart. What exactly is the metaphorical "secret sauce" that keeps the project going?
Well, this time, we're actually working on a project.
To provide a bit of context, in the past, we would often get together and, when the time would come that we would part, we would often talk about how we should really work on something. Well, this past holiday season, when we got together, I said something to the extent of "...So... let's do something then. Let's make a plan and just do it".
And we did. I love a happy ending.
Oh, you're still here. Right, so there was a bit more to it than that. Let's make a brief detour. Take a look at this.
Rubik's cubes. Awesome, right? There's a surprising bit of information encoded in this neat little image. I found this image in a LifeHacker article sometime last year talking about "the Done Manifesto"). With a name like that, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that it focused on just doing things. To single out a few of the manifesto's ideas:
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
It's an interesting idea. There's always more to be done, so why not just focus on doing?
My first instinct on reading the manifesto was something to the extent of: "Well, that sounds great, but how do you avoid churning out garbage? Isn't that what this 'doing' machine will lead to?" I can't say that I've adhered to the manifesto religiously, but I have made more of an effort to just f***ing do things (which should sound a bit familiar to people who have read the programmers manifesto). What have I noticed?
I've noticed that I'm getting more done. Shocking, I know. Let's not understate things though, when I say that I'm getting more done, I mean that I'm not worried about 'churning out garbage' because I'm getting things done that I previously would not have done. Because I've been doing things, I've been improving naturally rather than potentially spending all my time on on thing and not improving. At the very least, I'm improving because I'm actively working at something. It sounds obvious, but you can't get better at something by not doing it.
I've noticed that doing is really important in a lot in startups as well. Successful startups tend to be ones that are always moving, always doing things. From my own experience, doing is very motivating, and that momentum is important. Sure, maybe things need to slow down once in a while to clean up code, but you're always doing new things.
So, back to the project with me and my friends. Why is this project succeeding? Because every week, we all do something. It may only be a little piece, but every little bit of doing brings us one step closer to where we want to be; it brings us closer to the next thing that we want to do.
Doing is important. If you've got something you've been meaning to work on, something you've been meaning to do, just do it. Take 30 minutes out of your day to just do something. You may make a lot of mistakes, but at least you'll have done something; maybe even something great.
Me, I'm going to keep doing things, like this blog, and see where it all ends up.