Week of Hustle post-mortem – 20 April 2014

Over at JFDI.bz (a web entrepreneur group I’m a member of) we occasionally do a “Week of Hustle” – a week where we try to make significant progress on a project. I had five days free last week, so decided to do a personal “Five Days of Hustle”.

Here are my thoughts on how it went.

The Product

A set of video tutorials for beginners to learn the basics of C# by creating a very simple RPG.

Objective

Based on the outline I started with, there would be 14 lessons. Some of those lessons were big enough that I’d need to split them into two or more videos/posts. The plan was to complete as many of them as possible during the five days.

Results

After five days, this is what I accomplished:

  • Wrote the first draft for 11 of 16 lessons/posts (I realized that there needed to be a couple more lessons)
  • Wrote 8994 words for the lessons
  • Created 10 raw screencast videos (they still need audio tracks and some editing)

Things that went right

  • I got a lot accomplished. I made more progress on this project in these five days than I have in the last five months.

Things that went wrong

  • I had already written some source code for the lessons, but it was on another VM. For some reason, there were problems moving the code to my screencast VM. E-mailing the code to myself didn’t work either – Thanks GMail for not letting me send source code files to myself, because they might contain executable code.
  • At the end of the first day, my word processor suddenly stopped working. I spent time trying to fix it, but nothing worked. So, much of the second day was lost to uninstalling, re-downloading, and re-installing it.
  • My physical programming environment is not very comfortable, making long stretches of work a little painful.
  • One day, I was so tired that I needed to take a nap for a few hours. I believe this was because I had a large energy drink in the morning and a carb-heavy lunch (with dessert and coffee).
  • On the fourth day, I was starting to get frustrated with all the random problems that were happening. It was difficult to stay focused and motivated.
  • At one point, the VM I was working in took much longer to boot up. Normally it only takes a few seconds, but that time it took about 20 seconds. Nothing bad happened, but that made me worry about what I would have lost if the VM failed – since it’s only part of my weekly backup procedure.
  • By the fifth day, I was starting to run out of focus/energy/motivation/flow. I have a theory I’ve been thinking about for a while that “flow” is the most precious thing needed when trying to create something (well, maybe behind some level of skill). I want to find more ways to either increase the amount of time I’m in this flow, or make it so I can use that time most effectively. But that’s probably going to take a while to figure out.

Observations

  • It think I work best with a relatively short task/reward cycle. Do a task that should take about one hour to complete, and get a fifteen-minute “reward”. Somewhat similar to The Pomodoro Technique. The rewards I used last week were was watching an entertaining video on YouTube, or playing a bit of a video game I like. However, I think I need to come up with a reward that doesn’t involve more time staring at a computer screen.

Ideas to improve next time

  • Get OneBox (Microsoft’s shared cloud storage drive) working with my VMs, or find an alternative to let me share files across them.
  • See if there is a complete installer/ISO I can download for Office 365. I want to have it locally, like all my other installers, in case I ever need to re-install it.
  • Get a faster Internet connection, in case I need to download large files again.
  • Setup an automated backup system for all my projects.
  • Find a non-computer fifteen-minute “reward” I can do at the end of each task.
  • To reduce the impact of stress, start meditating again.
  • Develop a healthier eating plan that gives me more consistent energy (and don’t really on energy drinks or sugary foods). This is part of a larger idea I have for optimal health and energy. But that larger idea is going to have to wait until I have a bit larger income.

2 thoughts on “Week of Hustle post-mortem – 20 April 2014

    1. Thanks Justin.

      To answer your question from Slack, about what I think might help improve future Weeks of Hustle, here are a few thoughts:

      – Do as much prep work as possible, before you start the WoH. I had already written the final code for the project in the lessons, and a good outline of the lessons. Since I knew my destination and path, it was easy to spend most of my time cranking out tutorials.
      – I’m not sure if WoH should end with a deliverable, or just a large amount of progress on something. I’m wondering if it would have been better to complete fewer tutorials, but get them 100% done and release them – in order to get some feedback. I may do it that way for my next WoH.
      – Treat the Week of Hustle as “Week of Focused Work”, not “Week of Burning Yourself Out So Badly That You Need the Next Few Days Off and Have to Re-do Half of What You Did During the Week Anyway”.

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