I’m heavy user of to-do apps, specially Wunderlist, but recently my to-do list started to be a place I dread looking at it. I have too many lists, overdue tasks, things that I need to work on today, things that I need to take care of a week from now, groceries shopping lists, and a plethora of other things.
Simply it was just too distracting for me. Just like the 1000+ unread messages in your inbox right now that makes it impossible to read a message without being distracted by all that noise.
My primitive solution to the problem was to grab a piece of paper everyday, write only the important tasks that I need to focus on today, and ignore the rest of my to-do list for the rest of the day. By the end of the day, I throw away that piece of paper and start the next day with a fresh set of tasks. That approach worked quite well for me, so naturally the next thing for me to do as a software engineer was to turn it into an app.
Focus List does just that. It’s a very minimal to-do list with only a place for tasks you need to focus on today. The list is wiped out clean by the end of the day so you always start with a clean slate next day in the morning (or whenever you tend to start your workday).
Even though Focus List is very simple, I’ve been working on it for quite some time now. Since my goal wasn’t just to ship it, but rather to do some experiments in both the UI and the code along the way, I’ve changed the UI a couple of times and rewritten the majority of the code every time.
Focus List is available on the App Store for free with no ads or in-app purchases. Go grab it now, and I hope it helps you be more productive.
At any given moment I’m always working on a little side project. Some times they ship, usually they don’t (I only have TracKit and Photos Cleaner on the App Store, and one more app in review as of this writing).
Usually when I start telling people about the side projects that I’m working on, they wonder why am I wasting my time on projects that I have no interest in monetizing or that might not even ship. I have a very good reason.
Stupid side projects are always a healthy thing to do. You don’t expect any of your side projects to be the next Facebook or Twitter, or to change the world, but you keep on building them anyway. You build them because they are things you personally need. You build them for education, either about a certain technology or a certain aspect of business.
Since I’m usually not expecting to make money out of my side projects, I skip the market validation part and jump right into building them. That sometimes means sketching it on a piece of paper to make it clearer for myself, or on other occasions it means starting to code right away.
In side projects I get to be as meticulous as I want. I have no deadlines so I get to do things the way I see best, which occasionally means completely scrapping some parts and rebuilding them, and that is always great for learning. I also get to try whatever new crazy technology or language that looks cool but is too crazy to use in my full-time job.
It would be great if a side project turned into something that makes a decent amount of money, but that’s never the intention when I’m working on them, and that’s what makes them very special. I’ve learned a lot working on side projects, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as I have the time.
What stupid (or not so stupid) side project have you recently worked on?