1PPM: month 1 (and 2)

I’m not sure whether it’s my personality, what I do for a living, that I’m self-employed, or all three combined but my list of “things to learn/build/launch” pretty much just gets larger day after day. It’s not that I don’t learn or build or launch, it’s just that I sit down when I have the time and work on the thing that sounds the most interesting at the time. Or, instead, the list feels too daunting so I work on client projects and lose valuable exploration and learning time.

Woe is me.

I found 1 project per month (1PPM) through Hacker News and, for whatever reason, it hit the right spot at the right time. Basically, you commit to launching one thing each month, that’s it. This works, for me at least, because each of the requirements hits on an important component of getting things done:

  • Launching: This is a commitment to getting something out there as well as a hard stop to your work on it. Maybe it’s a site, maybe it’s a public repo, maybe it’s something in the Unity marketplace but it has to get out there. I add my project to the 1PPM log as a kind of public commitment at the very least.
  • One thing: This is a huge thing for me. I’ve thought and acted on this a lot lately and it’s clear that having multiple things competing for my attention destroys my ability to do anything about any of them. But when I pick one thing and make that the priority, I do well. I suspect most folks would identify with this.
  • Each month: I have about 10 – 15 hours per month I’m able to find for something like this. What can I do in that amount of time? If I’m focused and excited about it, quite a bit, it turns out. The month deadline sets a small enough scope that it feels like I’m able to do something meaningful but not, say, build a complete SaaS app or anything (well, maybe you can).

If you’re reading this and thinking “this just sounds like another way to try and trick yourself into working more,” I would agree with you for the most part but there is a subtle trick at play here. I’ll show you, just follow along:

  1. You probably have a list like this of some kind, even if it’s in your head. Get together all of the things you want to read, learn, build, try, do, etc. Write them down if you can or just count them up.
  2. Think very briefly about how much you could get done on each thing given a month of free time (whatever that means). Let’s say that’s 15 hours, like me, so what could you do in 15 hours for each of these things?
  3. Now, count ’em up. I have about 110, including my bucket list. Don’t react to the number yet, even if you see where I’m going with this.
  4. 110 / 12 months = 9.16 years. Almost a decade to take first steps towards all the things on my list.

For me, the idea that it will take 10 years to have taken small steps on all the things I want to experience or do did a few things to me, in order:

  • Holy shit.
  • But … if I actually touch all those things within 10 years, that’s pretty impressive.I most certainly have not touched 110 individual projects in the last 10 years.
  • I need to trim that list down.

I think it’s the last one that’s key. It’s important, for me, to come to terms with the idea that all of these ideas aren’t going to just happen, I’m going to have to do them. And if I do them, it’s not going to all happen tomorrow. It’s going to happen over the next 10 years. That becomes powerful motivation to both choose wisely and to keep plugging away.

So, I committed to and built a thing. It’s a thing that I use and a thing that I enjoyed building and it might just be a thing that’s done despite being incomplete. And it’s here.

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