This is a card in Dave's Virtual Box of Cards.

The Phased Approach

Created: 2022-04-29

On my htmx page, I’ve got working code, creative writing, and art. This is a lot of fun and lets me work on my three favorite pursuits.

But it’s hell on my willpower because there’s a lot of shifting gears between (at least) this many distinct activities:

  1. Learning the thing I’m about to demo

  2. Writing the code to demo it

  3. Creative idea generation

  4. Creative writing

  5. Drawing

Plus the usual file management tasks, etc. that tend to surround this type of project.

(I thought it would be a good idea to do all of those tasks for each little section together because, in theory, each little activity is a break from the previous activity? In practice, it’s forcing me to get "into the zone" on one skill, and then switch to another, which I’ve found to be unpleasant and tiring.)

I already knew this: "assembly line" style is better!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if I can find a way to do all of one part of a task all at once, it lets me get good at (sometimes even automate) that task.

For example, if I need to do X, Y, and Z to 20 files, I find it’s often way easier and less stressful to do X 20 times, Y 20 times, and Z 20 times, even though it may well mean opening files 60 times instead of 20. In other words, grouping by task rather than file works way better for my brain.

(Arguably there’s some crossover here with CPUs and Data-Oriented Design?)

Anyway, I’m switching the aforementioned htmx demo work to three distinct phases:

  1. Learning/programming

  2. Creative idea/writing

  3. Drawing

As soon as I made the decision, it was light a weight fell off my shoulders and I immediately created the next demo section. (Some creative ideas also occurred to me, of course, so I left myself hints for the next phase.)

Counter-intuitive?

Don’t our brains thrive on spontaneity and hate repetition? I guess it’s not so clear-cut. I certainly hate to do something like solve 20 longhand division problems in a row.

And real assembly lines are probably hell on the body, unless you design the process carefully:

But some manual tasks can be zen-like when you get into them. And for some reason, that seems to apply to some mental tasks, too. There’s something pleasurable about a task that is going well and smoothly. The opposite is interrupted, exception-filled, branching work, right?

P.S. Wow, I bet the size of this "card" would upset a zettelkasten aficionado. :-)