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Learn to Ship Faster by Embracing Ridiculousness

Tal AterTal Ater

I have a problem.

I find it hard to let go of projects.

Development for me has always been a work of passion. I only build things I care about, and care about everything I build. This is a great thing, as it drives me to work harder, fuels my inspiration, and shapes my work to reflect my personality.

But being so passionate about what you build is a double edged sword.

White Rabbit

When you are this close to your projects, it is easy to become obsessed with every little detail and want to make it as perfect as it can be.

Yes, perfect products are great. But only once you are able to let go and release them, so that others can also enjoy them.

I find it too easy to fall into the trap of working on a project in isolation. I become too obsessed with every detail, sitting hunched over my gem in the dark, polishing it to perfection. Too obsessed to ever feel ready to ship it.

I can’t wait to release it, and see how people use it. But I can’t let go of it until I feel it is ready.

The problem is that too often the state of it being “ready” is always beyond my grasp. There is always something more that can be improved. Texts to rewrite. GUI elements to move one pixel to the right. If statements which could be 3 bytes smaller after minification if properly optimized.

Yes, I have a problem.

But what if the ability to “ship” products could be trained like a muscle? What if by shipping a fundamentally imperfect project, I could train myself to let go?

I decided to test this theory. I took a serious topic (generating issue and pull request templates for open source projects on GitHub), and decided to build it in the most ludicrous way possible.

A choose your own adventure book, inspired by Lewis Carroll and H.P. Lovecraft which generates GitHub issue and pull request templates.

Yes Alice, we’re all mad here!

By embracing the ridiculous, I was able to build this project over 3 days, and be liberated by its inherent silliness.

The project’s own imperfections are by definition its greatest strengths. Is it user friendly? About as friendly as a mad hatter. Does the writing make sense? Absolutely not. Did I get it from idea to shipping in 3 days? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Try this exercise yourself. Come up with an idea. Define how many days it will take you to ship it (a weekend project perhaps?). Then do whatever it takes to ship it in that time frame.

I was delighted by the experience, and people’s reactions to it are (as always) the greatest motivation to do more.

(This article was written in one go, and published with no editing… almost)

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