When you’re trying to do big things it’s easy to mess make sure you don’t imprison yourself

Doing things daily compounds the effects. But if you’re not careful, you’ll try to do too many daily tasks.

You’ll build your own prison cell just like I have.

Maybe you’re like me and you write. You’ve read that writing daily is the best way to improve. 

You write everyday

After about a week of daily writing, you notice it’s easier to write because of the momentum that comes from a streak of consecutive days.

Before you know it you’re smashing out blog posts left, right and centre. 

If it works with your writing? Why not add something else? 

You’ve wanted to learn to program so you add an hour of that each day. The same thing happens again, you’ve built up momentum.

Why not add a daily task for every area of your life?

Before you know it, you’ve packed your schedule. 

You become a  monster.

An unstoppable force at war with your random tasks.

No amount of work will satisfy you. 

You try to squeeze more out of your day.

Why not go all in?

See how productive you can become. 

Breaking point

You might even hold this pace for a few months (I lasted two) then boom.

Breaking point.

All it takes is one of these streaks to fall before they all come crashing down. 

What’s the point? I missed one day and lost my streak. 

Every loss makes it more likely that you’ll lose another one. 

Miss one blog post. You’ll miss programming.

Now you’ll feel terrible about missing your streaks so you’ll relapse and eat some bad food.

Before you know it, you’re lying in bed at 6pm with no intention to leave. All you want to do is watch Netflix and cry. 

Fall back into your old ways

Then you fall back into the same cycle of being unproductive until you wake up in a few month’s time two stone heavier.

Being consistent is tough. It’s not fun, it’s difficult, it’s a shame that it’s the only way to improve. 

The above was about to happen to me for the 100th time.

I have spent the last three months locked up in my parents’ home in Ireland building Streakoid and writing these blog posts documenting my progress.

The three months started off with just a programming and reading streak, but I added more streaks. 

Persuading myself I could handle it. 

For the greater good of Streakoid.

For the greater good

I imagined myself as a soldier doing it for a higher cause. The reality I was just wearing myself down and being less effective.

This isn’t the first time I’ve fallen for doing too much. 

Multiple times in the past I’ve tried to power through.

About eight months ago I was waking up at 4.50 early to journal, research a book and code an early version of Streakoid.

Before going to work. Then returning to train Brazilian Ji Jitsu. I’d repeat this. Day in and day out. No breaks.

But over the months this brought me to the ground. 

I had a two-week holiday in Thailand just in time to stop me doing damage. But if it wasn’t for this holiday, I would have continued. 

I powered through once during my dissertation and ended up sleeping about 18 hours for two weeks to recover.

In the past I’ve been too stupid to see what my actions were doing. 

Don’t make my mistakes

This is a game I’ve played before

I recognised I was messing up. My breaking point was coming for me fast.

It was time for a tactical retreat. 

When you’re working on a project there is a need to become a mad scientist to get it off the ground.

But this needs to be tactical.

You need to work like mad to hit a certain speed. 

Then the trick is to know when to pull back. 

I wasn’t planning to pull back this early.

To be honest, I didn’t have a plan. I was hoping I could sustain that pace.

But once I noticed I:

  • Didn’t jump out of bed.
  • Struggled to concentrate.
  • Felt like a zombie

I decided it was time to revaluate the situation. To relieve some pressure.

The reason I’ve built so much over the last three months has been the eight hours of programming streak. I don’t regret doing it. It was insane, but it was effective.

But it just got too much. 

I experimented with dropping that to six hours in the last week. But that experiment has failed. There’s a few days, I haven’t hit it.

I’ve changed this to being a “Work on Streakoid” streak.  With no fixed time.

Not that I don’t want to do eight hours I just don’t have to meet that number each day. 

Instead I will rely on a routine and keeping a simple life to make sure I’m working.

Relieve some pressure

Being consistent is tough putting yourself under too much pressure doesn’t help the situation.

This relieves a lot of pressure. Because now I have the flexibility to meet up with friends or do something else. 

When something requires eight hours, you don’t have room to mess about. 

But with great flexibility comes great responsibility. (Thanks Uncle Ben) 

I need to make sure I’m still showing up and putting hours in to make Streakoid a good product.

But there’s no need to stay up to 12pm just to make up the hours. 

This is more of a relief on my mind. I imagine I’ll do the same amount if not more work, because I don’t feel under pressure.

Changing how I work

That still leaves Youtube and writing. These are all I’ve been doing on the marketing front for Streakoid. I haven’t been pushing selling Streakoid.

But this needs to change, so I must mess about to find an effective way to continue building Streakoid while dedicating time to marketing.

I haven’t figured that out yet because it takes two different sides of my brain. 

With a big change like this, there is always a big chance of messing up.

To give myself the best chance at this, I need to be waking up early so there is more of a day to work.

The thing I’m on the lookout for is becoming too relaxed.

This started already today as I took a few breaks today to play chess. 

These breaks seem innocent enough but breaks get extended and next thing you two hours have gone by.

Then you’re behind. Because you’re behind you get overwhelmed. When you’re overwhelmed, you don’t work. 

I’ve noticed that when it becomes dark, my brain wants to shut down. Sitting typing this is nowhere near as fun as during the day

I’m glad I caught this early. I felt so much better today not having to face the eight hours of programming.

My total hours’ work will go down, but I’m hoping my effectiveness and mood goes up.

We still want to do daily tasks each day. We need to chase the compound effect.

But packng your day full of daily streaks is a trap. It will lead to you to failure if you’re not careful.