Prototyping vs Programming

I have been working within a different method & context for the past three days & I have noticed some very interesting results that I would like to share here. It might sound like a journal but consider it as a report or comparison between two systems of working.

Boxing Schedule

For a few years I managed to do a lot of IT projects with some of them concurrently. I learned & gained a lot of knowledge in terms of planning & execution. What was really key during this period was breaking tasks into their smallest possible representation so they could be done independently with a focus on flexibility. I never wanted to tell a client that their request was going to be “impossible” or that “I have another deadline” therefore I developed a habit for these challenges.

Over 4 months ago, I divided my time into 45-50 mins of work or as in some systems it is referred to as a Box ( timeboxing technique) with 10-15 mins break in between. This made it easier to do the things I was not eager to do because after all it was going to be less than an hour & nothing is really that unbearable.

I used the same method for other activities such as meetings, musical activities, sport, planning, journaling, reading & so on. It does wonders to the degree that I worshipped my calendar because it gave me a great sense of security , reliability & most importantly peace of mind that helped me enormously to focus on the tasks. As a results all my clients were happy because the quality & delivery of the work was of highest standards.

Flow mode

After reading a number of books during this period I noticed that a lot of very successful entrepreneurs have a pattern of exclusive & long term focus on one project at a time. The more earlier they were in their journey, the more focused they were & the fewer things that had to deal with. Even Elon Musk who is running gizillion companies at the same time started by focusing on one major task only which was coding for Zip2.

I finally had a chance to try flow mode once again last week because my schedule was pretty clear. Flow mode for me is constantly coding & testing for 10+ plus a day. It sort of looks like The Social Network movie when they were referring to a state of being “plugged in”. I choose this mode for tasks such as user friendliness, refactoring, researching & experimentation.

A couple day with this mode & you are eating binary breakfast & having object oriented dreams.

Tips

Flow mode seems to be working better for me for personal projects especially if there are no design or UI guidelines present & things need to be decided on the fly. I would not put a lot of time in flow state for projects or even sub projects before any significant amount of work has been done because it makes the initial boost very difficult to accomplish.

Timeboxing is working great for client projects especially in early stages of their life cycle. It is also good for Bug Fixing & quick prototyping. I highly suggest for personal projects to write 50% lesser cleaner code if you know that later on you will have time to spend in flow state. My experiment shows refactors save a lot of time rather writing the perfect code in the moment when you are working alone on a personal or startup project.

I would spend a lot of time planning for either of these states prior to the experience. The last thing you want is planning in the moment when you need to be doing the actual work. Always plan a bit more than what you are used to. It is difficult to understand the meaning behind a general word such as planning but simply, make sure you exactly know what you have to do.

Last but not least, do not be distracted. Disable all notifications or remove apps if necessary. My experience showed me that I did not lose anything by not being connected to the social media or other networks online while I was working. Cost of distraction is ten times or more higher than missing out on something due to you being focused on what you love or what you have promised to deliver.