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I'm at a point where I have a gracious amount of free time that I'm not in school. I think I have a viable business idea (centered around a computer application) but it happens pretty often that I'm not able to push myself to do an appreciable amount of work! There's no external push for me to work (see context) - I have the option of sitting around doing nothing all day, and I could get along just fine doing so. The only motivation is that I'd like to see this program come into existence, and it could provide income.

Things I have tried/am trying:

  • Do some busy work while planning what to work on next. this has helped me finish loads of chores, and that's it.
  • Block common websites. I've done this to sites like youtube, and even my e-mail. Usually I still manage to get distracted by something on the internet, related to whatever I'm working on, but still sapping productivity. (By "block", I mean, log out, and make access difficult: partly just through a mental promise)
  • Plan moves exactly before turning on the computer. This ends up failing, because I'm not dead certain on the layout of the code I'm trying to write! This, and an unfamiliarity with the library I'm working with, makes planning things out without my computer difficult.
  • Logging time. I wrote a quick script to save date/time as well as a goal to a text file, but this winds up the same as the previous bullet point.

Things I'm considering or am about to try:

  • Creating a separate account desktop, with a separate desktop background, to use solely for work. Sounds like a great idea, especially for building habits!
  • Finding a meetup.com group nearby, to see people who might be interested in project progress. I can see this motivating me, but it doesn't seem very promising at all.
  • Getting membership at a local coworking space. This would mean that I'd drive, and clock in/clock out of a workspace every day. It sounds like a great idea, except that it requires a decent (>$100) investment for membership. I'd also need a laptop, and that's a lot of money towards something with no short-term return on it!
  • Applying programming plans (agile, XP). There are several questions on other stackexchange sites related to this problem, but after trying to boil away the unnecessaries, it seems to come down to details like "use git, log progress, track issues, write tests", which are great but not related to this site. I added this bullet point because related things (list/goal management, daily scrum) are more related to personal productivity. Nothing I read sounded like it was relevant to a single programmer, while at the same time helping motivation/organization, but I'd like to hear others' opinions.

Things I'm not considering:

  • Moving my home workspace. My desk is in a crummy spot, it's where I've played hours of video games, and it's right next to my bed. On the other hand, it's also where I've spent hours studying math, and written at least 5,000+ lines of code. (? cloc on a few recent projects returns 20,000 lines of code but I don't know how much of that isn't original.) So I think the impracticality of moving my workspace outweighs benefits from moving it!

What other methods can I apply to get myself from the habit of lazing around, into a daily work schedule, in the absence of any external pressure?

(Examples of external pressure: classes, competitions [meaning Ludum Dare], and the phrase "do it or you're fired")


context: If I haven't given it away already (free time, providing for myself isn't necessary), I'm an almost not-teen year old college student living at home! This is definitely important; I figure it's either eight hours a day now trying to establish an income in something I'm interested in, or eight hours a day a year from now doing web development and Q&A. I am pretty sure that I'll get myself into a work schedule, just with elbow grease, but I'd like to hear new recommendations and feedback on what I've already tried.

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1 Answer

You think you have a viable business idea, but unless you can identify potential customers and get some assurances they would pay for your app, you're kidding yourself. Once you tell them about the idea and they go along with it, in a way, you've just made these people your boss. They're going to expect to see you get something done. There will be consequences for failure.

Either you're serious about this project and the people you should be helping with this product or you're not. Other than making sure you do the work, why try to conjure up some schedule to adhere to? If you're not careful, you'll put in your 9-5 doing a bunch of unproductive busy work that accomplishes nothing. Getting a work space and all this other stuff is just pretending to have a business. Focus on what is important.

Start making some promises to other people and then try to deliver what they want. It's what it's all about.

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Thank you, I think you hit spot on with the first paragraph, that's something I've read before but wasn't even thinking about in this context. I should make getting feedback my next step. –  NeuroFuzzy Sep 2 '13 at 23:28
    
As far as the second paragraph goes, it could do without the middle three sentences. "Other than making sure..." but, that is the point. Putting in 9-5 is not something I'm close to doing. Pretending to have a business - did it seem like I was? If it did, I can assure you I don't have stacks of embossed business cards and t-shirts prematurely! The workspace issue is for productivity purposes period. –  NeuroFuzzy Sep 2 '13 at 23:45
    
@NeuroFuzzy - Focus on getting the feedback and then review your work habits. If you try too many things at once, you're not going to know which ones work and which were a waste of time. –  JeffO Sep 4 '13 at 2:07
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