I mentioned a project I have been working on and off for some time now. Unlike before, I am actually making tangible steps forwards. And more importantly, I haven’t had to start over recently. For a good part of the project, I would get some work done, then hit some kind of road block in the technology I had chosen. My solution, start over with something else. But finally, I am using the JHipster web application stack and I am not doing that.
The one thing I do realized now though, is that had I done a bit more planning earlier, things would have gone a lot smoother. I did a lot of stopping and thinking about what I wanted and how I wanted it to work. But, by not writing it down on paper to see if it fits, it was just all in my head where if fits easily and consistently. Regardless of the project size, you will always have changes as it starts to material. So pretty much no amount of planning will change that. But, some planning will help with the number of restarts and stalls.
Yesterday, I realized that my page flow was just too confusing as I added more pages. That right there was something I would have noticed I had spent some time writing it down and going over it. I knew that I would be adding more pages, and in my head, it seemed to have worked so well. Once I thought it up, I just started coding one page at a time. Eventually, I have a few pages and the navigation didn’t work well.
Once I started doing what I should have done before, plan. The ideas I had in my head, I now had some more insight about how they might work. I am planning a bit more now before jumping off again.
There is a delicate balance so observe here. No project is too small for some planning. But too much planning and no work, will just keep you in the planning stage. Sometimes you just have to get going and only then you get some insights, you will know if what you are thinking is even feasible. Of course, that is when you figure out that things don’t work the way you think.
If I had to summarize it, I would say always do some planning, especially on paper. May be something like a Passion Planner journal. Easier than using some computer program and doesn’t take a lot of time. But don’t wait too long to start getting your hands dirty, else you might just lose interest. And once you start, it is ok to take breaks to plan. Even if you might have to back up a bit before going forward.
You will be making progress so long as you are thinking, planning, and doing something. If you are not thinking about your project, you are problem not interested in it anymore. If you don’t do any planning, that will make materializing it harder. Whatever you do, do something that helps your project materialize.
Final tip, as much as restarting a project might seem like running in the same place. Don’t be afraid to throw out something that is not working and start over. What you throw out or throwing out to early, will be something you will have to figure out. But don’t get bend out of shape for having to start over, if that is the smart thing to do. Better to correct going down the ‘wrong’ path as early as possible, than later.