My ability to analyze, debate, and ruminate is unmatched. Snap decisions? No thanks. I’ll gather the data, comb through it all, and be completely unable to make up my mind. That’s one reason I’ve taken up blogging. You’re forced to decide exactly what you think. You’ve made your point. No thinking in circles anymore.
If you want to finish your product/album/application, deciding is the most important part. “Shipping” is glorified in tech culture, but the real power comes from “deciding.”
The importance of deciding became adamantly clear to me while working on my iPhone/iPad app, Band Note Learner. I’d worked on a couple of apps before, but always got stuck part way through. Too many work distractions. Too many other projects. They fall to the wayside and somehow never get picked up again.
This time I knew I’d have to do it differently. I didn’t start by tinkering. In fact, for the first week I didn’t write any code at all. I did my favorite thing of all, analyzing. I looked at all the similar existing applications. I browsed through all the code frameworks I wanted to use. But there was one requirement. At the end of the week I had to decide – “Will I commit to building this with 100% certainty that I will finish?”
It’s a tough question to answer.
There are lots of sub-questions you have to answer first. Am I capable of doing this? What roadblocks will get in the way? Is this the best thing for me to be working on? What help do I need? What fears do I have that get in the way? What if “X” happens? Answer them honestly.
At the end, there had to be a yes or no. Yes – I will pick a finish date and this project will happen. No – I will not do this project and shelve it forever. There will be no in between. No changing your mind.
I picked a ship day fourteen weeks away, and began working. Once I’d decided, everything became easier. Every time I got stuck I asked myself “What would someone totally committed to this project do?” Then I did that. It meant working late at night or on the weekends. It meant asking for help. It meant saying “no” to other commitments, even ones that I really wanted to do. Every time I was tempted to change the ship date or pick something else to work on I’d ask “I already decided this was the project to finish. Has anything changed?”
When there was about 2 weeks left on my schedule a sudden realization came over me. I was going to finish. There were a few details left to iron out, but if I kept going I’d have it. While the middle weeks had dragged on, the last few were extremely rewarding.
Two weeks later it’s in the app store and ready for purchase. (OK, I was a few days late, but still…)
It all came from deciding. Without the firmly rooted decision, it never would have happened.
If you’re stuck in a project, pause and decide. Pick yes or no.
A couple of links that helped me —-
Seth Godin – The Shipit Journal (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/freeprize/2012/05/the-shipit-journal-now-in-free-pdf-format.html) – Complete the entire thing in pen and you’ll have your decision made.
Barry Schwarz – The Paradox of Choice (http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice)