пятница, 20 июня 2014 г.

A Project Makes You Sick? Just Work Harder!

A couple weeks or so ago I faced a problem with a project I am working on now. On that stage I was busy creating a mobile application and really struggled with it. I felt that the UI is ugly, usability sucks in every possible way and some features are almost impossible to implement with the approach that I have chosen. This all led to a wave of disappointment – maybe the strongest one over the last months – crushing on me and to a sensible desire to give the whole thing up. Fortunately, this time I managed to overcome these feelings relatively easy and soon got excited over the project once more – at least in comparison with how severely negative I felt about it in the middle. The way I did this was very simple: I used a pretty effective weapon to fight tiredness – I have chosen to merely put more time and effort into what pissed me off.

I can’t remember where I picked up the idea that when feeling tired one has to work harder and it will get easier – it just feels pretty natural to me and I have been trying to follow this piece of wisdom for several years already. This way when I really feel exhausted with everything that I am busy with at the moment, I can use this idea to give myself a shake and get going further. The truth is that even though I don’t completely understand how this can possibly work, it keeps helping me get rid of apathy and tiredness. Besides, it is cool to be that nasty guy who responds to someone lamenting about being too tired with a phrase like “you just don’t work hard enough”.

At the same time I always thought that this approach to getting out of "too tired" mindset has anything to do only with the amount of work that one does and the actual tiredness. However, it turns out that it’s not the case and this same approach scales down to the level of particular projects pretty well. In my most recent case just forcing myself to fight through the unwillingness to continue the project literally made me see a lot of important things from different angles and actually understand much of what I failed to grasp before. However, even though it might seem that I got an “energy replenishment” of some sort from this act of overcoming exhaustiveness, I believe this works in a bit different way.

The real reason behind my apathy was that I started seeing a lot of mistakes that I had made in both design and implementation of the application and didn’t know how to fix them in any reasonable way other than rewriting everything from scratch. Moreover, the more I worked on the thing the more problems surfaced and the more depressed I got with them – finally arriving at the state where I wished nothing more than quitting the project. On the other side, when I built up some strength to overcome this desire and continue pushing the thing further it did get much better. Quite quickly I got valuable insights from my furious attempts to improve the application in various ways, which made me see all my faults and problems clearly. These, in turn, gave me the idea of the right way to tweak existing code, which would both save me from some of those errors and allow to move further.

The overall lesson is that the advice of just working harder when one feels tired is not as dumb as it may sound at first. Of course, sometimes it is a good idea to actually get some rest, but in other cases making yourself continue to put effort into a project even when you can’t stand it anymore may be very fruitful. Part of the trick is that, like with my mobile application, the same issues that make you hate the project in combination with the time spent thinking about it will likely help you understand what you want the thing to look like. So, when you face the idea that what you are working on is utter crap and you don’t want to see it even a moment longer, consider putting these thoughts away. Instead simply try to push harder, hack some code and make a bad UI even uglier – I am sure this will help you see your problems clearly and give you and idea where to go next.

What do you do when a project of your's becomes unbearable? How do you help yourself pass the stage of despair and apathy? Or maybe something deep in your mind allows you to work smoothly without even facing the problems of this kind? It'd be cool to hear from you in the comments!

(By the way, it may be not evident but I was literally on the edge of giving up this post somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. Still, I made myself continue and finally ended up with something that I can publish.)

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