Ten More Minutes

It’s not possible to directly compare progress across all three vs what might have happened had I focused on a single one.

However, when I ask: “have I made steady progress on each one of these?” the answer is definitely yes.

For example, I’ve consistently found that even when I hit a wall grasping a new concept in Haskell, after applying some consistent effort for a few days, I make a breakthrough in understanding.

I’ve fully updated cprogramming.

com to have a mobile-friendly layout and cleaner design.

And I’ve written a number of Medium posts as well as contributing several chapters to a not-yet-released book.

I’ve also had some major day job work projects going on in parallel.

These projects did sometimes distract and reduce the amount of overage time that I might put in to a project (e.


sticking to exactly ten minutes, rather than running over), I was still able to maintain the routine consistently over the last several months, with only a handful of days where I skipped working on cprogramming.


The reason that I didn’t work quite as consistently on cprogramming.

com is instructive.

For the other two routines, I used a technique from Ten Minutes a Day: gating certain activities (checking personal email, piddling around on the internet) until after I’ve done my projects.

I didn’t do that for cprogramming.

com, and that made it more difficult to force myself to work on it at the end of a long day — there was no immediate reward.

Those gates had another surprising side benefit: increasing my focus on other work.

If I had important one-off work, I would sequence it before the project work, and I wouldn’t fall into distraction patterns.

This worked particularly well on workdays — I generally don’t start project work until the evening, ensuring a highly focused workday.

This experiment also underscored the importance of something I didn’t mention in Ten Minutes a Day: roadmaps.

When I wrote Jumping into C++, I always had some kind of outline.

I noticed that learning Haskell was straightforward because I simply followed using courses, so the next step is always clear.

Not everything has been springtime and kittens.

In March, I tried adding a fourth project — a project to practice memorizing faces — but abandoned it after a few weeks.

I probably could have sustained it as the only daily activity, but I wasn’t seeing the real world benefit from it, and without some sense of immediate progress, I wasn’t motivated to spend that now-more-precious extra time.

While that suggests one limit, I believe it would be possible to add additional daily activities, as long as they’re clearly motivating.

As I find these projects, I will add them — starting out small and treating each one like a new habit.

Each will require energy to kick off and some evaluation to decide that I want to keep doing it, but if I can add more small bits of progress to my day, ten minutes at a time, it’s worth it.

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