I know how to get a lot done in a little time.

The secret? Well, it’s easy really, it’s also terrible. The secret is obsession.

A couple years ago I lived and breathed code. For every possible hour of the day I was thinking about programming, about how to code the next great thing, about designing systems, about building my dreams. I built a lot, I read a lot, there are piles of code built up on my hard drive. My old computer is surely scarred by all the programs I installed and uninstalled only to install again. My mind was scattered with theories on program design, language design, OS design, and ideas for all sorts of projects and implementations. It’s all really cool, it’s all really interesting. I learned a lot, I produced a lot, I helped steer my life and dreams for years to come, but it came at a price.

I remember walking across a grassy field. I’ll hazard a guess that it was a beautiful day, that the grass was soft and dewy and lovely, that my friends walking nearby were sharing a funny joke. But I don’t remember any of those details. I was lost in code, my most recent project was the most fascinating yet, and when I was away from the keyboard, my mind would soon jump to what I would write next, what was left to do, and how I would do it. I started to feel somewhat distant from other people, when code left my brain loneliness often took its place. I gained weight, I often yearned for escape from something, but I could never figure out exactly what.

Now, things are different. I still love to write code, love to get lost in the lines of a program, but I don’t get to as often. School has placed more demands upon me, I go out more, I do more stuff than I ever did before, and I read much more widely than I ever used to. It’s nice, I wouldn’t trade what I have now for what I had before. But I still look at my project list, I still run across those old ideas, and I wish I could get them done. And I know I can, but the price I’d have to pay to complete them all, I won’t pay it.

So there’s the secret: Obsession. A single-minded focus will get you farther than you could ever imagine it will, but be careful.


~ by Tyler Church on December 6, 2010.

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