This came from a question on a HackerNews thread.
So I used to have problems starting projects – I would plan/read/design etc and then never actually get around to doing anything concrete; I have overcome that issue. But now I find myself not being able to finish anything. I end up with little software projects that are half-done and abandoned because I lose motivation once I solve the ‘interesting’ challenges. When there is a clear path to the finish, I suddenly become disinterested.
This is something I still struggle with quite frequently. I’m not certain if it’s a particular chemistry in my brain or just a personality trait that I’ve developed over time. I find myself constantly hungering for interesting ideas and ways to solve problems. So much so, that the mental exercise of arriving at a unique solution has become a fun pasttime. This “not being able to finish” might seem like the main problem here, but I’d argue otherwise. Admittedly, the “problem solving” is hugely satisfying; more importantly than that, the problem that you’re trying to solve should be just as satisfying.
Moving from project to project felt like a waste of mental energy and my perception of never getting anything done seemed like a huge mark against my personal growth. When I would start new projects, usually there would be some urge or motivation to get going on it immediately. And sometimes it would be easy to derail whatever was currently on my plate for the new challenge. The times when it was most difficult to switch gears was when my current project was MUCH too interesting to put down. And this is the test I began to use.
Gradually, I found myself working on the most interesting project available during more and more of my free time. For whatever reason, a lot of weight is put on finishing solid tasks. (And that’s not to say that getting things done is underrated. There is a time and place for hustling!) But when it comes to your personal exploratory time, I think there’s some room for satisfying your own personal curiosity. And by allowing myself to freely move from one project to the next without the weight of “task completion” being hung over my head, I feel that my personal growth is much more satisfying over the long term.
Do you have a litmus test that determines what you work on next?