Recently I listened to a podcast of the Tim Ferris Show. In about an hour of talking Tim revisits his book The 4-Hour Work Week. To be honest I never read his book but there was some advice in this podcast episode which got stuck in my head. Tim admits that he was also getting lost within all his side projects and organizing his life. So a good friend of him suggested that he should try a thought exercise. This goes as the following.
Imagine you have 6 bullets. This is all you got for the next two years. 6 Bullets in a revolver. You have 6 things that you can take seriously and do very publicly, thats it. Pick those 6 things very wisely.
So I think I want to try that. As this blog is all about having no time it’s no secret that I am really shitty at time management or bringing projects to an end. But what is a project or idea worth when not brought to completion? In this blog post I will collect some possible ideas, projects, lifegoals that could become the target of my 6 bullets. In the ongoing weeks I want to clearify for myself which goals are worth to proceed and pick 4 to take seriously. Why only 4 you may ask. It imposes it to me that if you have only 6 shots for 2 years it wouldn’t be smart to give every bullet a target upfront. Circumstances may change, and attention will be demanded in different life areas. Facing such changes unarmed just doesn’t seem the right thing to do.
My possible targets
Every possible target has a brief description. Just enough to not forget what it was all about. I also want to think about the possible impact of each target on my life. This will make it easier to pick 4 in a following blog post.
1. Learning the spanish language
I already had a spanish course in college but stopped visiting classes after the second lecture. But still, spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It would be great to speak spanish just good enough to make oneself understood. This means having a conversation about the weather, asking for directions or reading a spanish newspaper should be possible without to much of a hassle. Speaking another language than german and englisch could reduce my travel shyness and open new travel destinations. It is also proven that learning a new language has a positive impact on your brain. Also, it could potentially lead to getting to know new people and getting of from my computer a few hours.
2. Programming a 2D game
When I graduated, I really wanted to make a game. Back then I had no idea what a task it is to create even a simple 2D side scroller. Since then I never really have made an effort to create my own game. I only participated in Ludum Dare once. This was my entry.
But as my employer recently hosted a hackathon and I was partially in charge of the organization the topic became naturally some kind of game programming. The attendees had to write algorithms to control a bot on a 2D grid and make it solve puzzles, such as finding the exit or destroying as much competitors as possible. To keep the interface simple, we decided to display the map as simple ascii characters. Since ascii characters do not make a really beautiful visualization of a game on their own it was my task to make it look better. So I created a visualization that uses WebGL to draw an actual pixel tile for every ascii character. In the beginning I had problems to get familiar to WebGL, but I had some helping hands by one of my colleagues (who by the way wrote the game server for the hackathon). But as I proceeded it became more and more fun and my long drowsing wish to create my own game reignited.
So this is where this target comes from. I have a lot of potential game ideas, but I want to focus on a single one. My most favourite game of all time is probably World of Warcraft(WoW). I played it a lot when I was in high school and have some great memories of this time. The part of the game which thrilled me the most was player vs. player(PvP). So my game should also be a pure PvP game where you enter the arena and fight with a partner against one or more opposing teams. For the setting I have three possible topics. The first is fantasy like in WoW itself. The second one is some kind of gladiator fights inspired by the tv series Spartacus. And last but not least an archangel inspired setting with protagonists seen in the tv series Lucifer.
The benefits of creating a game would be an improved knowledge in graphic programming which coincidentally is somehow helpful for my work at my employer. It is also a chance to improve my design work. I really enjoy creating visuals and would love to make tangible progress.
But this target can also be really time consuming. Right now I’m not sure if I would use an existing engine or try to write my own. So developing this game would devour much time and reduce the changes to reach my other targets.
3. Making music with my band
I’m a member of a band called The Pale Ales. I do not even remember how long we already exist but this band and my bandmates accompany my life for quite some time. Even if we are covering songs most of the time I’m really proud of the way we arrange songs and make them sound completely different then the original. So why is Making music with my band a target if it actually exists already? Our music ensemble suffers of two major problems. First nearly all of our bandmates are living in different cities within Germany so it’s pretty hard to find a date where all of us are free and can meet up. Second and more important the tasks for arranging and practicing a new song are not evenly spread accross all members of the band. We all are really good friends and really make an effort to make this band work but most of the workload is actually done by only 3 people. I would not number myself among these 3 people. And this is what this target is all about.
I would like to get more active within my band. Composing new songs organizing gigs and simply be more willing to take action. Therefore, I have to get better at any of the following instruments: guitar, piano, violin or the cajone. I also have to do more work alone to make our rehearsals more productive. Making music is a longlasting passion for me and there is nothing more fun then sharing this passion with my bandmates. This target would also improve the friendship with my bandmates and my instrumental skills overall.
4. Really learning the piano
Recently I’ve got an electric piano. It was a wish of mine for my birthday and successful graduation which my mother happily fullfilled (Thank you mom). I wanted this piano in the first place because I often have to play a keyboard instrument for my band so I thought it would be nice to practice a bit. By now I can only play chords along a few songs such as Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen or Happier by Ed Sheeran. So this takes mostly the same path as my guitar skills. I taught myself to play the guitar in a really basic manner and never got good at the more advanced techniques like picking or playing extensive barre chords. It would be a shame if I would do the same with the piano. This is why I’m thinking of taking actual piano lessons. Which kind of lessons is not determined by now but it could be anything from classical to jazz piano.
Playing the piano professionally would improve my understanding of the way music is played and arranged. As you can play multiple tracks simultaneously the piano is great for creating new melodies and supporting parts. Plugin the electric piano into my computer I can also use the keyboard as any instrument I can imagine using the midi controller. This target could be important for my own musical development as it could be supportive for my target Making music with my band.
5. Give a talk to strangers
Since highschool I have enjoyed giving talks to my classmates. It was nice to prepare something and think of the easiest way to approach a problem and explain it to others. But even when I did quite some presentations in college there is still a difference from giving a talk to classmates or on a conference to strangers and grown developers. At least I think there is. In all of my life, I only presented in front of people I remotely know or people who work in a somehow different domain then I do.
I want this to change so I entered a talk about WebRTC and CallKit to the biggest german iOS conference, Macoun. As this post was written over the course of two weeks my talk made it already and I’m officially a speaker now! My feelings are a mixture of excitement and fear. I’m excited of tackling one of my targets and feared of being not good enough to do it. I expect to grow a lot as a developer and a person by giving this talk. I will have to dive deep into the topic and learn how to transmit the content to my audience in an understandable way.
6. Making an effort to handle my finances
Stocks, banking and juggling money around to increase interests always bored me. In my dream world I do not have to think about money at all within my day to day life. Not that you get me wrong. All my life I had to work hard for my money. When I was a kid, I did not even get pocket money. I had to earn it by mowing the neighboring gardens or taking other small jobs. So I truly know the meaning of a big investment like a new bike or pc. It’s just this pressure that it is not enough to have your money laying around your bank account that annoys me.
This annoyance got me thinking, am I annoyed because this is just how everything banking concerned is or is just my knowledge to limited? This target will revolve around the topic investing money in balanced fonds, stocks everything to escape the zero interest rate policy. I will try to understand the stock market and make my current bank account bloom just by moving money around. The first step will be learning the basics and understanding how banking works. Even if I’m afraid that this topic will be kind of boring I think it will have a big impact on my future life. Firstly it is always desirable to have more money tomorrow than you have today. And secondly basic banking is a skill that is somehow required for an mature adult in our market economy.
7. Try to create an internet presence
This target is somehow already in progress as I’m writing this blog post. But I’m still not sure where I want to go or what I expect from this. So mostly I want to write for myself as I’m becoming older and gain more experience as a developer. You can think of it as some kind of diary. But also I would like to share and discuss my thoughts with others. I really enjoy being publicly about what I’m doing and to be in a conversation with people. Somehow this has been always easier if you have something to tell about yourself.
This is not my first time creating something in the internet. Back when I was in highschool I started together with my classmate Thomas a game and tool blog called gogools – fun fact my mother thought I would do something nasty as she associated go-go dancing with the sites title. Actually we were writing about our favourite tools to record and edit videos on windows and our most beloved video games. It didn’t take long that some other classmates asked if they could participate and write some articles as well. This felt really great! Even if only one of these people actually sent an article in it was still awesome to know that people read our stuff and liked what we were doing. The euphoria did last about a year before we stopped writing for our blog.
It was time to play around with a different kind of media, video. This was how Gamefanatixx was born (only german videos). Gamefanatixx was our youtube channel mainly focused on reviewing video games. We always tried to spice things up a little and mix in some sketches into our video reviews. It was a great time, and we actually managed to gain some traction. But as my friend Thomas and me started to study we lost our focus and videos were uploaded more irregularly. Our last video was release in march 2014.
Now that I’m done studying I feel the urge to do something creative again. I know that it can’t be the same as in the past but I have some ideas for developer oriented content. Some of these would be a podcast in which I could talk to different people within the IT sector, this website where I would like to blog about project ideas and my bad time management or a video series about my journey as a developer. All these projects will have to convey my kind of humor somehow. I expect this project to be a creative balance to my day to day job. Furthermore shooting and editing videos gave me a blast in the past so I’m quite sure that it would enrich my life again. This target would also improve my visibility on the employment market as it is welcomed to be active in the developer community and to prove one selfs market value.
Totally got no time for that
I have not enough time. At least not enough time to realize all the ideas I have. And every week or so there are coming new ones joining the others on a huge pile of forgotten projects. The huge problem I have with this situation is, that I never know whether it would have been worth to spend more time thinking on or even realizing an idea. Not mentioning all the fun working on these projects I let slip through my fingers. So this blog is how I want to change that!
Obviously there is still no time to realize all the projects, but I want to spent at least some thoughts about concepts, possible technology stacks or business models for some of my ideas. This way time worthy projects can become closer to their realization and nonesense ideas can give me some joy while thinking about them.
Maybe this can be an inspiration for me or anyone who reads this.
Best regards Norb