How To Finish What You Start


  • learning by trying out new technologies is great, don’t stop
  • doing side projects can be fun – that’s ok too
  • actually launching will teach you more about business

Remember, this is about finishing what you start. It could be a side project or a painting or a blog post. The same strategies hold true.

Accept Hofstadter’s Law

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Know That You Will Have the Same Excuses

  • You didn’t have enough time
  • You underestimated the size of the project
  • Something came up
  • It was a family emergency
  • You got a new client
  • You’ve done the work but it’s not fast enough
  • It won’t scale
  • The design isn’t ready
  • It doesn’t use the new version of a framework that’s just come out
  • Version 1 will be terrible but ship it anyway. Then ship version 2 tomorrow. Repeat.

Ruthlessly Strip Features

Launch with a smaller set of features than you originally planned. Slice up what you have to do in to incremental, manageable steps.

If you aren’t embarrassed by version 1, you haven’t released early enough. You don’t need to offer version 1 to people but you should launch.

You learn by launching. You launch to learn.

Plan More

Micromanage yourself and break down small tasks in to even smaller ones. Set a task to plan. Tick off as you go.

Make Time

How to Make Time for yourself.

Set Up Different ‘Spaces’

This will allow you to get back in to what you were working on faster. This form of mise-en-place will help you get stuff done quickly because you can start quickly.

Ship Daily

Have your side project one click away from shipping. Always.

Exercise Your Launch Muscle

It’s scary. The more often you launch, the easier it gets.

Maintain Enthusiasm

Each project has a half life. The longer you pursue it without launching, the more your enthusiasm wanes.

Enthusiasm can be gained with small victories. Customers. Your first sale. Income.

Battle Your Tendency to Procrastinate

“Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Why You Fail

Understand why you fail (for the brave).

All Time is Not Equal

Time in the morning is different from time in the evening. Optimise your time (as best you can) so that you have energy and enthusiasm to work on your side project.

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” — Somerset Maugham

Treat Yourself as An Employee

Pay yourself only when you get things done (or are actively spending time on your side-project). If you’re used to getting paid by others on their projects, this good work for your own project.

Small Steps Add Up

Make a series of small steps (launches) in the direction that you want to go. You’ll notice after a while that there is a multiplicative improvement rather than an additive one.

Real Creators Ship

They create. They ship.