Experimentation and daily productivity

I might have ADHD, and I’m trying to get it diagnosed.

It’s more of an attention deficit issue than a hyperactivity disorder, but there’s something a bit wonky with my brain. Or it’s nothing and I’ve just not cultivated my brain well enough. In any case, I find it difficult to follow through with things when I’m not fully invested in them.

To further complicate matters, I believe that I’m an artist on some level. My art has something to do with building things on computers. My calling is to build interesting things for others. Or for myself. I like to build products.

But whatever I build takes time. Any non-trivial piece of software needs time to create. Even more time is needed when you don’t know what exactly you want to make. I don’t always know exactly what I’m creating when I’m building for myself.

Things invariably go off track. Things I think that might take a couple of minutes, get stuck, and I spend a few days on them. That’s just software development.

Here’s now the story goes usually:

I have an idea that I’m interested in, an idea that either solves a problem in an interesting way, or has a unique user interface, or it’s just something I don’t know how to do. I’ll either start with the interesting problems within that project, or I’ll start with building the scaffolding around it. This part varies depending on the project, the ambiguity of the work, and what kind of data I’ll need for solving the problem.

If I’m solving the interesting part of the problem, time flies past. I’m invested, I’m interested, and I’m dedicated. That’s all I think about. In this scenario the trouble starts once I get to solve the problem. As soon as the interesting stuff is done, I find it a slog to build the scaffolding around it and actually build the product.

When I build the scaffolding, I might not even get to the interesting part. I realize I’ve pivoted into another project. Shiny new object syndrome

I saw this interview from Casey Neistat where he talks about focus and procrastination that finally made it all click. I’ve clipped part of the interview below:

[…] Anytime I’ve taken on a big project, I have sort of failed invariably. ‘Cause I lose focus. And why I love making little videos is, I can start and finish in a day, is ‘cause that’s a straight line from A to B. Just get rid of all distractions.

If you don’t know, Casey Neistat’s one of the biggest YouTubers, and is known for making a video every day for his Vlog for 800 days.

800 days is 2 years, 2 months and some change.

That’s a lot of daily work.

How does it relate to me? As I’m getting older, I’m starting to see patterns in my younger self. Patterns that have helped me greatly in getting a well paying job and keeping things stable (which I’m immensely grateful for). But patterns that have also prevented me from building for myself. Building what I wanted to build, and basically just pursuing my art.

That’s my goal with this blog here.

I could spend weeks crafting this site — and I’ve done that before — but the goal of shipping daily prevents me from making that kind of investment.

Even this blog post got delayed a day because I kept fiddling with Tailwind, and solving issues with Astro. Then, I just stopped, and decided to pivot back to writing.

Is my art writing on this blog? Yes, but that’s just a part of the story. I like to write, and becoming a better writer and storyteller is definitely part of it. Is it a product? Invariably.

One part of the blog is the ‘daily exercise’. I’m going to be building things that will take weeks, months, maybe even years, but I need to use the blog to show up every day. Each post can be about my thoughts, something I’ve learnt, or what I’m building.

It’s not all about the daily exercise though. The blog is a product that I’ll also cultivate. It’s a personal product, and ties deeply with me, and it might be useful for others.

That’s all I know yet, and that’s all my daily budget of thinking allows me. Spending too much time thinking and planning about what to do is also one of the pitfalls I often fall into.