friction from process
I have a lot of projects that need (and get) my full attention, but I've also got a ton of smaller stuff happening on the side that I tinker with in my free time and almost never bring to any meaningful completion.
One such project is this tiny link blog I wanted to make called *shit for making websites*. My logic was that since I spend several hours a week reading about (and subsequently bookmarking and organizing) a pretty sizable collection of resources for making things on the web, that I may as well publish them in a way that is easily digestible for others.
So I did. I ever-so-slowly built a little WordPress site where I could post stuff to when I found something I liked. Don't get me wrong. This thing is just. a. link. blog. I wasn't out to farm traffic or build an empire (b/c link blogs are *exactly* how one builds an empire, right?). And as a result, it wasn't a priority. At all. What seemed like a simple thing (posting to a blog) actually came with more of a commitment than I really had time to invest.
Before I started the site, when I'd find something I wanted to remember, I'd just tag it in Pinboard (you *are* using Pinboard, aren't you?) and that was that. Now I was tagging it in Pinboard, logging into WordPress, posting a description, uploading images, etc. Which is to say I was still just tagging it in Pinboard. The site was mostly dead on arrival.
Over the last couple of months I've spent a *ton* of time trying to make my work process more efficient, and I started looking at this glut of (basically stagnant) side projects I had laying around, and decided it was probably time to clean some of it up.
I started wondering if there wasn't a way to add a bit of automation to my little link blog, and it turns out (of course) that there was. After a couple hours of happy, productive messing around, I was done. I restyled the blog to be pretty minimal (no images, responsive text), hooked Pinboard and WordPress into IFTTT (also wonderful) and now my workflow to both tag something in Pinboard *and* post to the blog looks like this: Tag something in Pinboard. That's it. Wordpress is grabbing everything it needs from the title, description and tags that I was *already using* in Pinboard.
The best thing about it? Once I was actually *using* the damned thing it snuck up on me and became *useful*. Someone I work with easily got set up to post to it as well and we're starting to use it more collaboratively as a group. It's also becoming clear that dropping in quick improvements like tag search and category filters will increase our desire to use it further.
Again, it's *just* a link blog. But it's *my* link blog. And it's taught me some things. Finding ways to remove friction from process is imperative to success (especially when there's no deadline or financial incentive). Side projects that sit unused and unfinished aren't side projects. They're things on a shelf that cost you in time, stress or worse just by merely recalling their existence. Take inventory. Find a way to give them legs.