“So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.”

-Gene Wilder, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”

I have a problem. I have boundless ideas, limited time and resources, and a paralysis that comes with that. Right now I have a long list of things to do (that’s just for this one project), and I keep tripping over myself trying to figure out which ones are most demanding of my time first. I have a new theme that I’m working on that apparently just needs to have every option imaginable in it, otherwise no one will want to use it.

I know that this is not true. I know that I can do well and improve myself, and others who may use my work, by limiting options to a manageable subset, so that no one is driven crazy trying to figure out what to do. Unless you are really that person that needs this column to be 47%, that one to cover 21em’s, and the other to have a minimum width of 312px or bust, then a simpler solution with one or two base choices of styling should work just fine*. I need to stop thinking that everything needs to be perfect, since that’s not usually the attitude I take when it comes to other projects, so why for these? I suppose a vanity project is just that: a chance for me to prove what I can do. Eventually I’ll realize that if I try to wow everyone right out of the gate, then I’ll never end up leaving the stable.

 

*If you are that person, never fear. I have just the solution for you, coming to public release after holiday.

How many of you have this issue: You sit staring at a problem for hours on end, and work that should only take a few minutes of your time ends up turning into an all-day affair with no end in sight and no clear solution?
That seems to happen to me far too often, and I think that I’ve come up with a solution. It isn’t always the best idea, like if this project needs to be done just-right-now, but if I have a bit of lead time built in (which I try to do as much as possible, save for my own impatience), I now try to set it aside for a bit, clear my mind of it entirely, and work on something else. At the very least, I can cross a few other things off of my to do list, and not be swamped when this project finally comes due. The added bonus is that when I come back, I can often see past what was originally roadblocking me, and go “man, how did I miss that before?”, while banging out the solution in a few minutes.

This has been especially true of those little bits of punctuation that hang me up. That extra indent there, the missing brace here, sometimes looking at pages worth of code lets me miss simple things. Embarrassing and possibly bad for any future careers, I know, but it’s the truth, and I know it happens to us all. Code editors don’t always find these things either. Notepad++ allows me to close up tags while working to simplify my view of a page, which is a tool that Dreamweaver is either sorely missing, or that someone needs to teach me to do. As far as that other popular paid editor, it is great at helping you to figure out where closing tags might be needed, but not when you are in a minefield of nested divs and table cells. Sometimes it seems like they almost expect the user to have a clue about what they are doing when they sit down to work, which I think is rather presumptuous to expect of me 😛

Regardless, this technique has been helping me immensely in taking the pressure and stress off of individual details and letting me focus on the big picture of a project or schedule of tasks when that is most helpful. Now all I need to do is keep up productivity, and I’ll be set!