How to handle a colossal project

Towards the end of 2016, I decided to start making videos to share on Facebook and YouTube.

I blocked out some time in my calendar to make 3 videos a week.

Since I do freelance work during the week, it meant that I would have to do them in the evenings between dinner and bed.

I estimated that (in theory) I could quickly knock out a 20 minute video in 30 minutes between 9 and 9.30pm and be in bed early enough to get my full 8 hours.

In reality, most nights I would spend 2 hours getting frustrated and making multiple re-takes until I just gave up!

I ended up just doing videos when I had time on the weekend… Then eventually I gave up completely.

In 2017, I committed to releasing 3 full video courses. The first one will cover Python, from zero experience to beginner.

I knew that if I wanted to deliver on this goal, I needed to improve my process so I don’t do what I did at the end of last year. Which was basically overstretch myself and give up entirely.

Brooke and I sat down and brainstormed how we can improve our video production process together. The answer we came up with was to break the task down into smaller, manageable chunks.

Instead of aiming to do a full 20-30 minute video, I would just break it down into multiple 3-5 minute videos.

And I committed to doing on average one of these short videos a day.

During the week I would still have to do these videos at night, but if I aim to produce something short and concise, and I give myself a realistic time-frame to achieve this (one hour as opposed to two), then I should be able to meet my goal, and still meet my basic needs like a full 8-hour sleep and enough time before bed to read and wind down.

I also realised that I was spending almost 50% of my time setting up my environment (lights, position of camera, putting green screen up, taking it down, etc.). So we re-configured my “studio” so it’s set up along the back wall of our office. It’s now out of the way of our working space and because of this I can leave it up and not have to worry about adjusting it every time I need to film.

London App Developer

I also bought a new webcam so I no longer have to use my laptop AND monitor to film (which takes up double the space and makes the filming experience a bit disjointed). Between these adjustments I’ve saved 50% of time and can now meet my target of one video a day a lot easier.

I’m only a few days in but I’m already seeing the results I set out to achieve.

For every new project I embark on, I find there’s always a honeymoon phase – when you’re really pumped and excited to be working on something. It’s the weeks and months that follow that become challenging. But I feel as though I figured out a routine and a set-up that is reasonable and easy to action.

I’m sharing this goal here with you so I can be held accountable for it. If you have a partner, friend, flatmate or family member that can help hold you to your goals, I strongly recommend reaching out to them and asking them for support.

So far I’m averaging 2 videos a night (100% more than I thought I would do). Compared to last years 1 or 2 a week!

And most importantly, I am now ENJOYING making videos!

This experience has got me thinking about how important this lesson is when it comes to programming.

Many times I’ve faced daunting technical challenges. Sometimes it’s a personal project I want to get done. Other times it’s a colossal freelance project that feels like the more I work on it the more work is created.

But now I take comfort in knowing that the key is just to break it down into small, manageable chunks. It also helps to assess where the biggest pain points are. For me, it was the environment set-up. For you, it might be an onerous manual task that can be automated to save time.

So, whatever your challenge, no matter how big: Break it down and chip away at it.

Take the time at the start of the project to break it down into smaller tasks and use JIRA, Trello or whatever works for you to track the progress.

Then just chip away at it day by day, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve!

Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful.

Cheers,
Mark

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