January 6, 2021

The secret to getting things done

A reader asks: how do you even get things done?

Ok, I am running an open source project here. What’s my workload? Short summary:

  • Operate a server (no, hosting on GitHub is not an option)
  • Blogging (it’s a self promotion thing, don’t ask).
  • Actual software development (researching Google Play, writing code, writing docs)
  • Dealing with the “fun” side of running a business (aka the legal shit).

How do I manage to find time for all of this? Pomodoro Technique? Nah, much easier: good old blasphemy!

Blasphemy?!

Yep! I just refuse to use any kind of messenger. I don’t do Slack, Skype, Twitter, Facebook or whatever’s the hot shit right now. I won’t even answer the phone, unless it’s a scheduled call. The only way to communicate with me is either in person or via email. For me, it’s a simple rule of life: if it allows you to ring me up, then you can’t reach me through it.

Think: messenger app

… dafuq?!

Told you, it was blasphemy.

Here’s the thing: the mind needs about half an hour to enter “the zone”, the state in which creative work can happen and it only takes a short distraction to drop out of it again. We are living in this strange, hyper connected world, in which most of us have this funny idea in their head that we should have things that go “beep” in order to alert us to “important” things, that need to be taken care of right away (as if the one thing we are currently working on wasn’t important). I don’t agree. In my book, everything that is able to draw attention is by definition a distraction and therefore a productivity killer, not a productivity tool. By switching to “email only”, I avoid the problem. Plain and simple.

When I’m busy typing out a thought. Be it a blog post, a piece of code or even a reply to an email, then there’s no way in hell, I’d allow anyone to interrupt me to take care of whatever they think needs to be taken care instead. People can wait. No cutting in line. I will always finish a train of thought first and only then check my mail folder to see if something important came up in the meantime. Paid work is prioritized, everything else gets postponed till I can make time for it. If stuff piles up, so be it. If something (eventually) falls off the pile, even better. I don’t loose sleep over missing deadlines for anything that’s optional.

And that, quite unspectacularly, is how I get things done. I simply don’t buy into the modern belief of being on call 247. FOMO my ass. I chose when to handle things, not someone else.