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Brandan Lennox's

Wasting Time

When you have to find your own work, you sometimes cross the line from — how you say — self-employed to unemployed. You check your RSS feeds, look around on a couple of job boards, send some e-mails, check your feeds again, check your e-mail again, and then reward yourself with an afternoon of Guitar Hero. It’s a slippery slope, I swear.

So to avoid slipping, I started paying attention to how I manage my time when I don’t have many billable hours. Curiously, most of my time is spent reading: blogs, references, books (like, real paper books!), my own peerless writing. Lots of reading, and not a lot of producing. Reading’s not inherently bad, of course, but I only retain a tiny fraction of what I read. I don’t learn well by reading; I learn by doing, repeatedly. And so I declared that from now on, I would spend more time doing: coding, designing, whatever.

Then several related events occurred almost simultaneously last week:

First, I discovered Ruby Quiz and CodeKata, which both give you excuses to write code just for the hell of it. It’s been years since I did that, back in the heady NNTP days of comp.lang.perl.misc and rec.puzzles. I tackled the first Ruby Quiz and then read through some of the other (much better) solutions and adapted parts of my code to see what would happen. Fun!

Second, Merlin Mann wrote Real Advice Hurts, essentially voicing the thoughts I had about myself and my habits. I was proud of myself for making a decision before reading that so I didn’t feel like a follower. That’s real important to me.

Third, I got some paying work in.

Happy Friday!