Developing Perspective

#76: The best way to avoid distractions.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:03   Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing news of note in iOS development, Apple, and

00:00:07   the like.

00:00:08   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:09   I'm an independent iOS and Mac developer based in Herndon, Virginia.

00:00:11   This is show number 76, and today is Tuesday, September 4th.

00:00:16   Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's get started.

00:00:19   All right, so this is kind of a—see, a lot of the shows that I do on Developing Perspective

00:00:24   are about development, are about the process of building things, are about the process

00:00:30   of marketing and selling things, are about the business of being an iOS or a Mac developer,

00:00:35   being an independent.

00:00:36   These are the kind of things I talk a lot about.

00:00:38   Today I'm going to take a slightly different tack.

00:00:40   And if you're familiar with the 5x5 network, it's kind of like, this is more of a back-to-work

00:00:46   topic than maybe what I usually do here.

00:00:50   And it's very anecdotal.

00:00:51   It's very personal to me.

00:00:52   It's just kind of an experience I had that I wanted to share

00:00:55   because I think it might be instructive,

00:00:57   and I think it's helpful to talk about in that way.

00:01:00   So basically yesterday,

00:01:02   it was last Wednesday, so about a week ago,

00:01:06   I was getting ready to head out to the office,

00:01:10   at least a little bit of office space,

00:01:13   a little bit away from my house,

00:01:14   so I can get away from the kids and focus on my work.

00:01:17   And for various reasons, it would have been great

00:01:20   I could bike to work rather than ride a car because the car seat situation with my kids

00:01:24   or you know, that is completely beside the point.

00:01:28   But I needed to work out, oh, well, I need to check the weather to see if I can, to see

00:01:35   if it makes sense for me to bike to work and so on.

00:01:38   And I was sitting there playing with my phone trying to work that out.

00:01:41   And it was driving me nuts because I can look on dark sky and see that there's no rain for

00:01:45   the next hour, but that's only helpful for me getting to the office, it's not only getting

00:01:49   and it was just reinforcing this constant nag

00:01:54   that I've had for years about, "Oh, man.

00:01:58   I wish there was a weather app that worked

00:02:01   the way that I want weather."

00:02:03   I'm sure my needs are not the needs of many other people

00:02:06   or a large percentage of people,

00:02:09   but this is the way that I want weather.

00:02:11   And the app really fits that need.

00:02:14   I have two or three different things

00:02:16   that I go to pull different information.

00:02:15   A lot of times I even end up on people's like,

00:02:17   you know, weather.com or weather underground's websites

00:02:19   because that's sometimes better.

00:02:21   And it's just driving me crazy.

00:02:22   And I was like, you know what?

00:02:24   I'm going to write my weather app.

00:02:26   I'm just going to sit down and I'm going to write it.

00:02:28   Like, I don't really, it may not have been the best time

00:02:31   for me business-wise or personally

00:02:33   in terms of like where I am with other apps and things,

00:02:35   but like, you know what?

00:02:36   I just want to do that because it's been driving me crazy

00:02:39   for such a long time.

00:02:41   And so that's what I've been doing.

00:02:42   And the reason I'm bringing this up

00:02:44   is because it has been remarkable how different my focus,

00:02:48   my attention, my excitement, my passion for what I'm doing

00:02:53   has been from Tuesday versus Thursday of last week,

00:02:58   and even continuing through until today.

00:03:01   I am working on something that I'm excited about,

00:03:04   that I think is useful, that I have a lot of opinions about,

00:03:06   that I'm really getting in there

00:03:09   and working with these problems,

00:03:10   because they're problems that I have,

00:03:12   and I'm solving them, scratching my own itch,

00:03:13   and really working on something that I want.

00:03:17   I really want this to work.

00:03:18   And I mean, it's crazy how dramatic a difference that is

00:03:21   in terms of productivity.

00:03:23   I think I tweeted about this,

00:03:26   but it was this fascinating thing of,

00:03:29   anytime in the future when I'm complaining

00:03:30   about my procrastinating on something,

00:03:32   or not getting enough work done,

00:03:34   or not having good focus,

00:03:36   you know, oh, I'm watching too many YouTube videos,

00:03:38   oh, I'm checking Twitter too many times,

00:03:40   it's like, I need to understand that more likely than not,

00:03:43   procrastinating because I don't care about what I'm doing.

00:03:48   When I care about what I'm doing,

00:03:51   when I'm doing something that is exciting,

00:03:54   that grabs my attention,

00:03:56   then I'm going to make,

00:03:59   I can barely stop thinking about it.

00:04:02   I mean, it's a crazy thing.

00:04:04   It has literally kept me up at night,

00:04:06   which is a dangerous thing when you have young children,

00:04:08   to be thinking about the app.

00:04:11   When I had a problem for how I was going to display some information,

00:04:10   I'm like, "What if I did this? What if I did this?" And I'm lying there in bed at three

00:04:14   in the morning being like, "Yeah, maybe that would work." And I had to resist the urge

00:04:19   to get out and actually try to encode that. I waited until like five in the morning when

00:04:23   it was a reasonable time to jump out of bed and start working on it again. But it is just

00:04:27   a remarkable thing. And I was thinking about how the week before, I had been so unproductive.

00:04:34   I was constantly checking Twitter. I was constantly going to devour.com, which don't go there

00:04:39   if you don't know what it is, but it's a site full of

00:04:44   viral videos and amusing and interesting and inspiring

00:04:46   things.

00:04:47   I was going there all the time, and funny thing,

00:04:51   and I know Merlin Mann of Back to Work's philosophy enough

00:04:55   to know that inbox zero isn't about having an empty inbox,

00:04:59   but I was definitely noticing how almost always

00:05:02   I have nothing in my inbox.

00:05:03   I'm very good about kind of just working through it,

00:05:05   but so often, I think what I'm really doing is I'm just,

00:05:08   That's just a great way for me to feel like

00:05:13   I'm being productive while not being at all productive,

00:05:15   of making sure that I'm staying on top of my inbox

00:05:18   and really pounding it down.

00:05:20   Now there's like 30 things in my inbox and I don't care.

00:05:21   It's just like as long as I scan through it

00:05:24   and make sure nothing's on fire,

00:05:26   like when I get a server alert or something,

00:05:27   I'm like, "I'll go check that out."

00:05:29   But my focus and my attention is on this one thing,

00:05:32   and it's going really well.

00:05:34   I really am pleased with the way the app's going,

00:05:36   and it's really exciting to see and to be reminded of,

00:05:36   what can happen when you really are engaged

00:05:41   in what you're doing.

00:05:42   And I bring it up here because I think so often,

00:05:46   especially if you're an independent, it's so easy,

00:05:49   and I fall into this myself so much,

00:05:51   that it's so easy to feel a reticence about taking risk,

00:05:55   and about jumping out and doing something

00:05:59   when you get, sort of when the mood catches you,

00:06:03   and you get really excited about something,

00:06:04   and you want to dive into something.

00:06:06   And I started thinking, "Oh man, should I really do this?

00:06:11   Wouldn't it be better if I go and work on audiobooks

00:06:14   or my recipe book or this kind of thing?"

00:06:17   And I've jumped on side apps a lot,

00:06:18   but there's always this tension of,

00:06:21   "Am I just wasting my time?

00:06:23   Am I going to spend a couple weeks, a month?

00:06:25   I don't know how long this is going to take.

00:06:27   The app's coming along really well,

00:06:28   but it's still going to take a little while.

00:06:30   I've got to get the icon made

00:06:33   and do all these kinds of things.

00:06:31   And am I just wasting my time?

00:06:34   Am I going to launch it and it'll flop and no one will care?

00:06:37   But the thing is, what I was realizing with this app

00:06:40   in particular, I was like, that doesn't matter.

00:06:42   I'm going to use this app every day probably,

00:06:44   as long as I have an iPhone.

00:06:46   Like, it is exactly the way that I want this information,

00:06:49   and if no one else cares, no one else uses it,

00:06:51   and I make 70 cents, and that's just the 70 cents

00:06:54   I gave myself for not buying my app or whatever,

00:06:57   like my dad buys it, my mom buys it,

00:06:59   a couple friends, that's fine.

00:07:04   Because I'm building something I want to build and I want to use,

00:07:06   and that turns into a good business thing, great.

00:07:10   But I need to give myself permission to not worry about that,

00:07:13   that every single decision I make has to be a big hit.

00:07:16   That every single app I make has to be some huge, big,

00:07:20   impressive thing that's making a lot of money.

00:07:25   That's not how these things work.

00:07:25   What I really should be doing, and what I've been so delighted about this week,

00:07:30   is I should be excited about making apps.

00:07:35   And I should be excited about working on them.

00:07:37   And what I find often, which is a great balance to this,

00:07:39   is when I work on one of these side projects, and I really dive into it,

00:07:43   and I start working on it, and I'm excited.

00:07:46   I mean, it's all I can think about.

00:07:47   I start getting excited about doing other app updates to some of my older apps.

00:07:50   And that's usually because I think I've learned something

00:07:55   in the process of building this app

00:07:59   that I want to apply somewhere else, and that's exciting.

00:08:00   Solving technical problems in interesting and unique ways

00:08:03   is what engineering is.

00:08:07   I would imagine most people who listen to this podcast,

00:08:08   that's what you get excited about.

00:08:11   There are few joys as sweet as when you come up with

00:08:14   the awesome solution to the problem you've been struggling with.

00:08:17   You're in the shower in the morning,

00:08:22   or you are driving to work,

00:08:24   or whatever it is that you come up with the idea.

00:08:26   And you kind of have that,

00:08:28   I mean, it is a rush.

00:08:30   Then you're like, "Yes, that's how I can do it.

00:08:31   That's what I can do.

00:08:34   I'll do this, this, and this,

00:08:34   and then my performance will go through the roof."

00:08:36   Or, "I can do this, this, and this,

00:08:38   and then the app will be so much more performant

00:08:39   or look better," or, "I can reorganize the data in this way.

00:08:43   It'll be great."

00:08:45   And those are lessons and skills that you learn

00:08:45   by experimenting outside of that.

00:08:47   And if you're not excited about what you're working on,

00:08:50   if you find yourself procrastinating,

00:08:51   if you find yourself distracted or easily distracted

00:08:54   or wanting to be distracted, you really

00:08:57   need to take a look at yourself and say,

00:08:59   is what I'm doing worth doing?

00:09:02   Is what I'm doing--

00:09:03   if I'm not at all excited about it

00:09:05   and I'm constantly trying to find ways to avoid doing it,

00:09:08   should I be doing it?

00:09:10   And there are certainly things that you have to do.

00:09:12   But more often than not, you probably

00:09:15   have some amount of choice in that.

00:09:20   And if you don't care, if you're just doing it for money

00:09:22   or you're just doing it because you think you need to

00:09:24   or to impress people or all kinds of other not so great

00:09:26   reasons, you need to really evaluate that.

00:09:29   And it's just kind of because of how striking this experience

00:09:33   was for me, I'm kind of thinking about it in that way.

00:09:35   And I'm like, you know, I'm an independent developer.

00:09:38   I make enough money for my apps that I can live on,

00:09:40   and I need to be able to embrace the fact that if I get

00:09:41   excited about an idea, that I should run with that.

00:09:46   That I should increase my effectiveness and joy

00:09:49   in what I'm doing and my happiness and my engagement

00:09:55   and work by focusing and building what it is

00:09:57   that I'm interested in doing.

00:10:00   And that's what I've been doing, and it's been great.

00:10:02   And I'll probably be talking about this weather app

00:10:04   over the next, probably however long it takes to build,

00:10:06   and then I'll be launching it and so on.

00:10:07   So certainly stay tuned for that.

00:10:12   I think it's always helpful as I walk through this process

00:10:15   from start to finish to talk about the various stages of that here.

00:10:19   So right now I started off with an idea.

00:10:22   And it is one sketch on one page in one notebook.

00:10:25   I'm not the kind of person who sits there and goes into Photoshop

00:10:29   and deep mocks up everything.

00:10:32   It's like I just wanted a concept.

00:10:33   Like this is the vague architecture of what I'm trying to do.

00:10:33   And then I started building.

00:10:38   And I got an app that basically works now.

00:10:39   It is now my main weather app,

00:10:42   and I'm just working on making it faster, more performant,

00:10:44   looking better, UI stuff.

00:10:48   I'll continue to polish and refine it

00:10:51   over the next however long it takes.

00:10:53   But in this process, I'm learning so much.

00:10:55   And I'm making new mistakes,

00:11:00   and remembering old mistakes that I've made before,

00:10:59   and hopefully not making them again.

00:11:04   So it's been going well.

00:11:06   And like I said, an interesting thing

00:11:08   I was just going to throw out there

00:11:10   is certainly to the developing perspective audience.

00:11:11   As I'm building this, I'm always trying to,

00:11:15   I've been talking to a lot of people I know,

00:11:17   just friends and family, about what it is they look for

00:11:18   typically when they're going to go check the weather

00:11:23   and they want to see what's going on.

00:11:26   Kind of what information are they trying to get quickly?

00:11:27   And then secondarily, what information

00:11:32   do they often look for or are hoping to find

00:11:35   that isn't there in the current crop of applications

00:11:38   or they have to struggle to find?

00:11:41   And so if you have thoughts on that,

00:11:43   I'd love for you to respond back to me,

00:11:46   especially if you can fit it into a tweet,

00:11:48   because that's always really nice for consolidating.

00:11:51   And so I'm on Twitter @_davidsmith.

00:11:53   There's a link on the Developing Perspective page,

00:11:53   developingperspective.com if that's easier for you.

00:11:58   And if you have thoughts on that, definitely just let me know.

00:12:02   Just send me a tweet and saying, "This is what I usually look for.

00:12:05   This is my 90% time I open a web app.

00:12:08   This is what I want to know.

00:12:11   And then here's the thing that I've been struggling to find.

00:12:12   I'm going to look at other things."

00:12:15   And make no promises.

00:12:16   Ultimately, I'm building the app that I want and the app that I'm looking for.

00:12:18   But it's always interesting when you gather information like that.

00:12:19   What I'm not looking for is a way to--

00:12:21   I'm not looking for to create an app that's the aggregate,

00:12:26   or I guess really the sum total of all of those requests.

00:12:29   What I'm looking for is those opportunities where

00:12:31   someone says something and I'm like, yes, that

00:12:34   is exactly what I'm missing.

00:12:36   And hopefully that will happen.

00:12:37   And if it does, that's great.

00:12:39   It kind of reminds me, though.

00:12:40   It reminds me a little bit of the--

00:12:42   there's a great page, and I'll link to it in the show notes,

00:12:46   We have Apple submission disclosure agreement

00:12:51   or something like that.

00:12:52   I'll have to find the actual name for it.

00:12:53   There's a funny thing that if you ever send an email

00:12:55   to Apple, there's a little thing on the page

00:12:57   that you have to sort of agree to

00:12:59   before you submit your feedback form

00:13:01   that basically says any information that you send to us,

00:13:04   you are revoking your intellectual ownership of that.

00:13:09   It's just funny because I'm thinking of the same thing.

00:13:11   Whenever I, like I'm,

00:13:12   when if you're collecting feedback,

00:13:14   Because if someone says something and then I implement it, it's not really, there's certainly

00:13:19   a credit where credit's due, but it's like, by sharing publicly your ideas, you are giving

00:13:26   up your right to have that be a secret that you have ownership of.

00:13:31   It just makes me think, and obviously that's not where I'm going with that, it just reminded

00:13:34   me of that as I was saying it, because there's this hilarious page that you have to, the

00:13:39   little agreement that you sign every time you send information to Apple.

00:13:43   so I'll link that up in the show notes.

00:13:45   But otherwise, I hope you guys have a good week.

00:13:47   It's a short week if you're here in the States.

00:13:48   Well, if you're independent, maybe it is, maybe it is not.

00:13:51   But I hope you guys are having a good week.

00:13:52   Do some happy coding, and yeah, I'll talk to you later.

00:13:56   Bye.

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