Sprint 14 Results
After setting an 8 hour goal for Sprint 14, I then proceeded to not only reach the goal (which I did on Friday) but shatter it. I completed 17 hours during the week. That's as much as all three previous weeks before it. This is the kind of time I was hoping for when I started. I think it just genuinely took this long to really build momentum.
I do feel like I made the right call, lowering my goal week-by-week, from 10, to 8, to 7. Even though this week shows that if things go well, I can approach 20 hours (which I still think is actually very doable still) I don't plan on setting a super high goal for the future.
But it is nice to not only meet my goals, but far surpass them. I'm glad that I'm ending the competition strong.
To top it all off, I was able to do 6.5 hours of work today, on Labor Day. Obviously, it helps that I had the day off. I don't think there's any reasonable way I could have done that on a work day. But it was also a great way to finish things out strong.
I had hoped to have something worth showing off. I don't. Yet. I've said it before though… I think it's important to get things out to people earlier rather than later. My first book was probably delayed by two or four months because I revised so much once I got actual feedback. Had I done that sooner, I probably wouldn't have wasted so much time. In some ways, I think the only thing stopping me from releasing the chunk I've got so far is that I'm worried that people won't like it. That they'll find it incomplete, confusing, etc. And they probably will. Whenever I do release it. Because it will have been viewed by me, and me alone. So that shouldn't stop me from releasing, but it's going to. At least for a bit longer.
I'm kind of sad. We've reached the end of the competition. This is actually the first time I've ever been going strong at the finish line of one of these competitions, with the possible exception of the 1st one where I threw away my original plans (a reverse Space Invaders) and did a straight up Space Invaders clone on the last weekend. I've always crumbled apart long before the end. So this is new territory for me.
But having said that, I also wasn't active for the first 70 days of the competition, except some activity during the first week. Work got too busy, and all of this competition stuff took a back seat.
I've found a secret to success, at least for me. Let me walk you through it, in case it is beneficial to you too.
The first big paradigm shift for me was to just realize that what I wanted to do could not possibly be done in the time frame allotted. I was starting on this book stuff at Day 70ish, and under no scenario, including taking a month off of work, was it reasonable to think I could actually write a full book.
The second big shift was to also realize that I could not reasonably predict what I could accomplish. I had some hopes and some thoughts that seemed reasonably accurate (I actually don't think I was wildly off) but there was simply no way to know how far I could actually get. Work life, family life, entertainment, exericise… they all take up time, and it's tough to know how much. So I decided right from the beginning that there was no way I could set reasonable scope-based goals for this project.
Truth be told, that's something I've always known about creative projects like book writing and software development. You can fix the scope or you can fix the time period, but you cannot fix both. They are a function of each other. And creative work is beastly tough to accurately predict. Since these competitions are fixed time frame, I probably shouldn't be trying to pin down the scope ("complete this whole game" or "write these two chapters", etc.).
So the final piece of the puzzle here was to change my type of goal. Rather than saying, "Here are the tasks that I'm going to complete," I said, "Here's how much time I'll put in every week." This allowed me to have a concrete goal to make progress towards, without me feeling like I'm not completing everything I need to complete.
I do think this was the key for me, and the next competition that we do, I think I'll structure my sprint goals this way again. I think it works better this way, at least for me.
I don't think this would fly at work, with a customer that is paying us. It probably ought to work. But if I told our customer, "Yeah, it's hard to guess what we'll be able to actually complete. We're just going to make sure we put in 40 hours (or 20 uninterrupted, meeting-free, distraction-free solid development hours)," well… I just don't think they'd be happy with us saying that. Even though that's probably pretty accurate. Customers like being lied to and told exactly when they'll get exactly which feature. But I digress from the original point…
I do think I've found a pattern that has worked well for me lately. I'm looking forward to the next competition to give it another goal. But speaking of that, I'm not sure I need to wait because…
I plan on just continuing on. My goal for Sprint 15 is 12 hours. That's the highest goal I've set, and I'm mostly only doing that because I've already got 6.5 in. Next week may not be as high.
I had originally estimated a total of 400 hours to complete this book. I'm currently sitting at 40.5. That's about 10% of the way there. I feel like 500 might be a better estimate. Ask again in another month.
I think I can probably commit to continuing on at least through the end of September. If I average something like 10 hours per week for the next 4 weeks, maybe I'll be more like 20% of the way there. While not a guarantee, I want to get an actual early access style release out by then. I said that for this last month too. We'll just have to see how it goes. Again, the primary focus is in spending time with it, little by little, every day and every week. If I do that, then the chapters will fall into place, and eventually the completed book as well.
I'll keep posting here in the forum with future updates.