The art of the process
A good friend of mine turned me onto Stoicism recently by gifting me with two of Ryan Holiday's books. I easily finished the first one Ego Is The Enemy but the second one The Obstacle is the Way I have been taking my time with. Digesting each short chapter and even going back and re-reading them, sometimes three or four times.
In the latter book, one chapter that has really stood out to me is entitled Follow The Process. I will refrain from divulging too much here because you should really get your own copy, but early in the chapter Ryan Holiday encourages the reader facing a daunting task:
Okay, you've got to do something very difficult. Don't focus on that. Instead, break it down into pieces. Simply do what you need to do right now. And do it well. And then move on to the next thing. Follow the process and not the prize... The process is about finishing.
Six years ago I moved to Japan and I started a blog chronicling my adventures while I lived there. At the time I had zero experience with web development and so I chose WordPress for CMS. Fast forward a half a decade or so and that blog had gotten quite large, fairly successful, and a little hard to manage. So, I made the decision to migrate away from WordPress and build a Gatsby and Tailwind app for my blog. It promised to be a big project. Maybe too big.
Just last week I came across a great blog post on Stack Overflow titled Tips to stay focused and finish your hobby project. The author, Tomi Mester, outlined several good points to stay focused during a project but the one that really resonated with me was to publish a working beta.
I had started migrating my blog back in September but it was quite daunting. There was a lot that needed to be done. So, I let the large-scale project "scare" me into inactivity. When I read Tomi's article I knew what I needed to do. I published my maybe 30% complete blog. You know what? It worked! Now I am spending several hours a day pushing code to my live site.
Lastly, Tomi suggested using music to get into the flow and focus. For me, jazz guitar gets me in the zone and who better to listen to than the incomparable American composer and genius Pat Metheny? If you agree check out my playlist below👇🏼
Through this process, I have come to really enjoy building my own web app. Gatsby and TailwindCSS have given me the freedom to make the site uniquely my own. No more buying plugins and dealing with support to get it to work the way I want it to.
If you too are facing a daunting coding/development task I would suggest taking a look at Tomi Mester's blog post and maybe even getting yourself a copy of one of Ryan Holiday's book(s).
While watching Big Bang Theory last night Sheldon mentioned something called the Yerkes Dodson law.
The law dictates that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases.
For me publishing my in-progress beta created just the right amount of anxiety to increase my performance.