On The Importance of Doing Something

Being productive when time is short

Published on 16 November 2015

I've just become a father. It's amazing and I'm loving every day, from waking up in the morning and being greeted by huge grin from my little girl to putting her to bed in the evening when she can barely keep her eyes open. My baby instantaneously became priority number one and has left little time for other passions like home programming projects.

Yet, simultaneously, I have found the time since my baby was born to be some of the most productive time of my life. Since she her birth, I've spent every hour possible with her, worked regular hours - and been productive during those hours - at my day job, got an unexpectedly healthy amount of sleep and still managed to complete a significant amount of work on personal projects as well as creating and writing this blog.

While reflecting on why this might be, I came up with one simple, inescapable conclusion: my Github profile. More specifically the "Current Streak" of contributions. You see, I am a sucker for gamification and seeing that "Current Streak" increase each day is remarkably rewarding. As such, I am finding time each day - no matter how little - to do something.

Previously, I'd get home in the evening, think about the projects I had to work on, realise that there probably wouldn't be enough time to make significant progress and procrastinate about it until I had more time available to "get things done properly" - which was happening increasingly rarely. Now, instead of focusing on some distant goal, I simply think about finding something I can do and publish to Github in whatever time I have available. It really doesn't matter what it is, as long as I get the Surface out and start. Almost always, once I've started something, I get engrossed in it and am able to spend way more time than I thought might be available on it.

For example, I'm writing this post from the sofa in my front room having spent a wonderful evening with my other half and little girl. Not having had time to make a commit today, I decided not to get an early night and instead tucked them into their respective beds before heading back down stairs to get a start on this post. Initially I had planned simply jot down a few ideas and possibly write a sentence or two before committing to Github and retiring for the evening. Yet here I am still writing after several paragraphs (and one very enjoyable album).

I probably won't finish tonight, and definitely won't publish this post until I've had time to re-read and edit it. But I've got my commit for the day and made an unexpected amount of progress on a blog post about making an unexpected amount of progress. In short, I got something done and that feels good.