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Don't Let Big Ideas Stop You from Doing Small Things

rpalo profile image Ryan Palo Originally published at assertnotmagic.com ・3 min read

My daughter is six months old!

She's the best.

Over the last six months, my life has changed a whole lot. More than I ever could have expected. Besides the fact that Palo squad is 50% bigger and 400% more wiggly, I think the biggest difference is in how our time is split up.

Babies: Some Attention Required

For those of you that don't know, babies eat more frequently than adults (Citation Needed). That means that our day is essentially split up into three-hour chunks. Every three hours or so, she is ready for another bottle. In between, she alternates between playing and sleep. Well, I should say, in the past month or two, she's really started playing. Before that, it was mostly just wiggling. But the cuteness factor remains.

Anyway. The point. Here. That I'm trying to make. Obviously. Is:

The days of sitting down on a Saturday and cranking out a marathon XBox session are gone. There aren't any time-slots big enough to get into deep focus mode for long enough to implement a full feature on a code project or write up a 2500-word tutorial in one sitting. And it's taken me a really long time to adjust to that.

I'd get her down for a nap--good for 30-90 minutes of work--and start thinking of the features I wanted to start working on.

"Oh, I could start on A! But, in the end, I really want ABCDE, and, really without BCDE, A isn't all that useful. Maybe I'll just put off A and wait until I get a bigger window to work on the full feature."

The list of things I was putting off until I got "a good chunk of time" kept getting bigger and bigger. And none of the little things I wanted to work on ever got started.

I would put off writing a quick blog post, because I wanted to tune some tags settings and layout things on my site first, which would take too long.

I put off testing out my own static site generator because I hadn't implemented a really cushy CLI interface yet.

I put off writing blog posts because I hadn't finished my own static site generator yet! (You see the productivity dependency hell I'd landed myself in, now.)

But Ryan, she sleeps at night, right? Can't you just wait until after she goes to bed, or work before she wakes up in the morning?

Well, yeah, you're right. And there are those rare mornings or nights when the manic phase hits me just right and I can get a ton done at 4AM. But, here's the tricky part: taking care of a baby makes you very tired (More citations needed). If I had to choose between sleeping in my cozy, warm bed while the baby's still asleep or working on a coding side project, I--... zzzzZZZZZ...

You get my point.

What is the Point

Here's what I've been working my way around to tell you:

Don't let the big ideas stop you from completing the smaller tasks.

If you have enough time to finish a few small tasks, then finish a few small tasks. Over time, these small tasks will add up to the larger goals. If you put off the small tasks because you won't be able to finish the whole overall project, then you're not going to get anything done, you'll waste those small time slots, and you'll feel frustrated because you never have any time to get anything done!

It's crazy how this ties into my number one piece of life advice: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." If you can't solve a big problem, break it into a bunch of tiny, easier problems and solve those. It works for math, engineering, programming, puzzle-solving, and now, apparently, childcare and time management.

Carpe Naptime

I love my daughter. She's the best. Well. My wife's the best. Well, it's not a competition: I think we can all agree that they're both pretty good. Anyway. My life is super different now, but I wouldn't change a thing. Sometimes before bed we play a game I call, "Climb Daddy Mountain" where she progressively wiggles her way up until she can grab my bottom lip. Trust me, it's awesome.

I cherish every moment she's awake. And now, I'm starting to make the most of the time that she's asleep too.

Posted on by:

rpalo profile

Ryan Palo

@rpalo

Ryan is an engineer in the Sacramento Area with a focus in Python, Ruby, and Rust. Bash/Python Exercism mentor. Coding, physics, calculus, music, woodworking. Message me on DEV!

Discussion

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I also recommend reading an interesting article: "Step by step I follow my goal. Planning of personal goals, projects, tasks.". In this article, I share my experience in planning and organizing personal projects, goals, tasks.

 
 

Gorgeous! I had to chuckle.

Incidentally, you might be able to use QTM to break down and prioritize some of those project tasks.

 

I’ll take a look, thanks :)

 

This is so wholesome ❤️ And funny