Fear šŸ˜±

If there’s one thing I’ve realized in the last year, it’s that making an app is scary. Despite the wealth of resources out there, learning to code still feels a lot like a trip aboard the USS Enterprise:Ā boldly going where no-one has gone before.

Of course, peopleĀ have been there, Stack Overflow is a testament to that, but the universe of brackets and dot notationĀ is so foreign at first thatĀ communicating in it feels like rowing without a paddle. Thankfully, with a little time and persistence it gets better! You learn to ask the right questions, and when you do get stuck it generally takes you less time to move forward again. The little things are also a lot more exciting at first, as shown in the graphs below. You go from being like “My Hello World works! I am a powerful wizard!” to “I named my listener method weightWatcher()! I am a powerful (and hilarious) wizard!”. The takeaway is that code isĀ magic.Ā āœØ

Unfortunately, it’s not always a steady exponential climb. What I’m realizing now is that sharing an app is a lot scarier than making it. We’re three blog posts in and I haven’t even told you what my app does or payed for yourĀ dinner yet! I know that my blog’s tagline is “I have no idea what I’m doing”, but it’s not a crutch for inaction. A couple years ago, I hiredĀ Michelle Akin as a life coach, and one of the things that I took away from the experience was a better understanding of my fears and how they would hold me back.

If I let them.

Right now, sharing my app with the world is terrifying to me. Yes it works, but the design’s not done…Ā it’s missing features… it has bugs… I could go on forever. Part of me wants to just keep working on it until it’s perfect, but that will never happen. I’ve put a ton of time into it and I’m scared of what people will think, butĀ I’m at the point where I need feedback.Ā Let’s break out of the comfort zone.

In next week’s blog post, I’m showing you my app.

There will be screenshots. There will be sketches. There will even be a comment box below the post if you want to give feedback. Or if you’ve pressed a mysteriousĀ button to receive it in your inbox, you’ll be able to hit reply and pour your heartĀ out!




The commitment above comes from a powerful trick that I also learned from Michelle. If you’re scared of something, or if it’s outside of your comfort zone, you probably have a tendencyĀ notĀ to attach a concrete time to it.

“I’ll get fit sometime next year.”

“I’ll start a blog when I have less on my plate.”

“I’ll learn to code once I feel ready.”

Stop doing this; it will help. If you need a reminder every now and then just bring out your inner Beyonce.

Cause if you liked it then you should have put a date on it. šŸŽ¶

A photo posted by Jonathan Lahue (@jclahoot) on

Timeboxing

This blog post and its accompanying image wereĀ made in less than two hours. As I’m writing this however, the word count stands at 24. This may sound like a strange exercise in torture, reminiscent ofĀ college exams, but in fact it’s just putting a very useful tool to work: the timebox.

As I mentioned in my last post, I used to makeĀ YouTube videos professionally, but what I didn’t mention wereĀ some of the failures that came with it. While my personal channel was not very profitable, it wasn’t meant to be and was by far the most fun to produce. I started by making cooking videos, then vlogs, then way more than I could handle. OneĀ month, I decided it would be a good idea to launch fourĀ series simultaneously.

  • Watching Plants Grow: A cooperative series where I’dĀ follow advice in the comment section of videos, and hope that my plantsĀ didn’t die.
  • Hablas Ingles?: This is where I got the idea to teach people Spanish despite not knowing any Spanish myself.
  • Leaving The Nest: I explored Montreal in order to get to know my city better, and find the best neighbourhoodĀ to move to.
  • Just PokĆ©ball It!: I just wanted an excuseĀ to play PokĆ©mon.

None of these series had beenĀ pre-recorded when I launched them, and it quickly became evident that it was impossible to keep up without sacrificing my regular content. The new content itself wasn’t a failure; it was a lot of fun to make, and I learned a lot in the process. It’s the execution that needed some work an this is where timeboxing would have come in handy.

Timeboxing works like this: you set a goal, then you decide how much time you’re going to spend on it.

This might sound a lot like a deadline, but the key difference is that one is empowering, and the other is not.Ā A deadline is given to you, and generally has some consequences attached. A timebox on the other hand is self-imposed, by a group or individual, and typically the consequences are light, if not inexistant.

In the case of my videos, the goal wasĀ toĀ diversify my content,Ā and that could have been done a lot more sustainably had IĀ know about timeboxing. One day a week: Time to innovate. Simple. It can also be applied to lots of other things like meetings, gaming sessions, or scouting out technologies to build your next project. Basically, anything that you don’t want to be spending an eternity on.

With this blog, I’m actually scared that I’ll like it too much, and thatĀ it’ll cannibalize the time I want to spend onĀ other things. Like my app… or having a social life!Ā I figure that 2 hours is probably enough time to write something good in most cases (we are at 1:31:25 according to Toggl), and I can useĀ any extra time to make cool illustrations, or stuff like that JavaScriptĀ button fromĀ the last post that lets you have this blog delivered to your mailbox šŸ˜‰ . At any rate, consistence is key and I want this to last, so I’ll get to drawing, and see you next week!


Initiating Launch Sequence šŸš€

Hi and welcome to my blog!

Two years ago, I embarked on a journey into the unknown. My job was pretty cool; I wasĀ making YouTube videos, and freelancing in design at the same time.Ā That being said,Ā the amount of things that had to be juggled to make it work was justĀ insane, and on top of it I wanted to learn Spanish, and get fit, and work on a bunch of other skills. I realized that it was not humanly possible to focus on everything, but that gave me an idea! What if the solution to my problem wasn’t human?

Fast forward a year, and I’m working for an amazing ed-tech companyĀ and writing my first lines of Java on the side.Ā When I opened Android Studio for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed by what seemed like a jungleĀ of buttons and menus, and I remember thinking:

“I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m going to make it workĀ anyway!”

And somehow… I did!

Move the clock ahead to 2017, and I have a working Android app that I use every single day. It’s far from perfect, but that’s not the point. It works, and forĀ someone who’s completely self-taught in all things computer science, that’s a hell of an accomplishment!

Despite all this, I still have no idea what I’m doing, so that’s where this blog comes in. From the mundane, like finding ways to save money on laundry, to the downright terrifying, like launching my app, every day I run into some new thing that I’ve never done before, and I think it’s going to be fun to document it. LetsĀ try forĀ something new here every week šŸ˜‰

My adventures in figuring shit out are just beginning, and I’d love to have you along for the ride!

Jonathan