Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Multiple Project Planner

And there you can see my current projects, either the ones I have already started working on or those many pending for the future. Some people might say that having so many things to do instead of focusing in only one is what demotivates me and frustrates me. While it partially makes sense, say you are thinking of the various projects you want to start and then worrying about starting with one and leaving the rest you would also like to start, it's not the primary force that kills my will for creativity. I think that even with one project (and there were periods that I was focused in only one) I would still be the same lazy and thus frustrated. There is also an advantage of having multiple project, in that if you get bored of working on one project for a long time you can switch into something different and this can increase your motivation to be creative. In fact I have noticed some points to where I get bored or deny starting to work on anything but that's not with working on multiple projects. Maybe it has to do with daydreaming about multiple projects or it's simply laziness. Still, in the place is the hard decision of which project to start with. That's where this new project planning app and actual experiment seems to be an interesting way to overcome it and motivate me on working on anything. I just need to go on with it for a month to see the results..

Let's talk about this application. First of all I am playing strategically here. From my experience I know that every attempt to "robotize" myself, I mean to make a strict plan and say that at certain hours I will code this and that, simply failed. Even the lighter attempt which sets that I should work for few hours on some project but make my schedule elastic. Well, elasticity is still the way to go (and I use the concept in this app) but it wasn't enough because I would simply deny going to the schedule or forget the whole concept. Also, the idea of either using scheduling software or even coding one was out of the question because I would have to spend a lot of time to learn how to use or make the software while multiple demo projects were running. In fact I used the hard approach here but with a strategic thought. In the past I was thinking about of coding a big application with database, statistics, app uses per hour, etc which I never managed to start of course. But this time I had the rule to find the shortest way to make something, unfinished, very alpha but which can start me up. For example you can't use the app atm. The values are typed inside the C++ IDE and when I want to change those * and @ or set a different status (color) to a project I do it manually. Because it would take a long time to make an interface. The idea was, ok I will do a pointless schedule like app to start helping me with my projects, but what kind of thing can I do in 2-3 days of code? That if I want I will only evolve later, but atm it will do it's job manually from inside the code. Just a project struct, some font rendering and lines, loading static values from the code inside and voila.

And so MPP was born. I can also easilly set sub-MPPs for running project, e.g. if I have a critical project (like a demo I want to finish before a deadline) and I want to make another list of parts of the demo I want to finish and define some time and status for how they are going. I have already done this for our incoming CPC demo. Of course this sub-MPP app is a different DevC++ project with copied files and changed subplans.

Some explanations. The green are active, the red inactive, the grey are OFF atm (and there is some dark orange or brown color for OnHold). When projects are active, they have one @ per day. The yellow mean that work has been done, the dark blue means I was lazy that day. In some inactive projects I wanted to start soon, I have the white stars in the third row. Each day the project is inactive the stars decrease by one. Projects I initially decided to not start soon (e.g. the C64 or GP32 projects, because currently the CPC project is more important) I have put more initial starts. Also if an active project is idle for 3 days it becomes inactive and the stars start decreasing again. If the project is finished I put a white color text and the Working minus the Idle days multiplied by 2 are new stars I can share with other projects.

There is this specific problem, say for some reasons I was idle (it's not only laziness but real life too) and the stars and idle days of various projects are coming down. Or you may not be motivated to work for a project that has reached zero stars. There is an option to exchange stars, e.g. to steal some from an inactive project with many ones and give it to the project you want to avoid at the current time, thus postponing it for the next days. You can also finish a small project to get new stars to share with the rest. Yes, a bit pressing condition watching the counters decreasing like monsters and wondering how you can work with five projects the next day. And I am currently near this situation. It's interesting to see what will happen. What is the entropy? Will the stars decrease faster than I can sustain a balance? Can I cheat by starting inactive projects for a day, being idle with most for less than 3 days and work the other day again? (remember, when active the stars stop to decrease, unless you are idle for 3 days again). Can I cheat with other ways? Do I miss the point which is to actually being motivated to be creative and not chase some counters? (though it's a nice game too that keeps me focused on projects I would forget for months otherwise and a different perspective to be creative too :) Will I have to switch and adapt to different rules that fit my own pace? I believe that the sets of rule will slowly slowly evolve. It's interesting and I will know in less than a month..

Another bet I set to myself is if I can succeed this time. Always, when I started planning a demo and visualized it in my mind it never end like I have wished and I was even frustrated near the end to finish it harsh. Now we have a CPC demo in my mind, one that if this predictable phenomenon doesn't occure this time, it will be something really great that I will be very happy with. It might be the first demo for me that I will be really really satisfied with. And I want to win this bet because it will change how I see things. When you have failed for 10 times, each next time you know that the predictable result will be to fail again. And you get dissapointed so much that you are not motivated even to start. If this doesn't fail this time I will have broken the ice and a lot will have changed with my psychology of how I see myself and demomaking. Each next time I will know that it is possible in once to dream of a good demo and make it a good demo without having to kill it and make a harsh release. Well, I think I said similar things in "A Step Beyond" too, that it was the first time to break that ice (and it was but several things weren't exactly what I wanted and there were only 2-3 effects and no design (for this one I have great plans :)). But I know that the bet seems like putting myself too high, being unrealistic. However a lot of parameters have changed that persuaded me that now is the time to set the same bet again to myself and truly succeed this time.

Recently I have evolved into a being that might easier and without much frustration as in the past finally make his dreams come true. For projects in general I have first of all evolved my psychology of how I view things concerning demomaking, my frustration, my laziness, what motivates me and what demotivates me, what I really ask for and methods I could follow. Even to stay calm in case of bad times. Also, I have experience. I have build some nice frameworks that are not yet finished but evolving. I have learned to play strategically, e.g. coding the things I can finish fast in order to show something, to motivate me and have a start. In top of all is this MPP application which reflects some of my ideas. I have learned to persuade myself to work for 1-2 hours and not go for 8 hours full (except if I am really into it) because I wrongly believe that without hard work a demo can't be done, to work for 1-2 hours slowly slowly, then make something else and have patience. And I still try to evolve my attitude towards how I plan and work on projects and my life too because it's dynamic. I still find times where I loose my patience but I regulate my feeling better now. Other than that, with the CPC demo I have great support from Rex and Voxfreax this time and we really hope to finish something before Xmas. At least I hope but if I don't I will keep the project still for the next year if my schedule gets out of proportion.

All I need is faith and a lot of courage. Patience, good psychology, trying to regulate my feelings even in bad times, understanding of what I am and what I want to do or where my flaws are. As long as I speak about it and don't code I have this feeling. But I'll have to break the ice this time. I have to succeed and well. Step by step..

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