Picture of Michael Lee
:wave: Hey hey, I'm Michael Lee and this is my site about being a developer, being a dad and making side projects.

Pruning

Written on April 24, 2013

prune: trim by cutting away branches or stems to increase fruitfulness and growth.

Recently, I’ve had the urge to prune things in my life. This started the other day after reading, John Saddington’s blog post on removing almost all his apps from his iPhone to just the bare essentials.

Taking heed of John’s example, I trimmed down the number of apps on my iPhone as well. I didn’t delete as many apps as he did, but did cripple my phone’s ability to suck and drain precious time and productivity out of my life. Along with deleting unnecessary apps, I also turned off push notifications. This allows me to take control of when I want to check for emails, Facebook updates and other notifications.

The second catalyst to this urge to prune things in my life was this blog. Last night, within a few hours I actually changed the look and feel of the site. This felt great! The site isn’t completely done, but I have always enjoyed working on my own things. And this made me realize I haven’t been focusing on my own personal projects much lately.

Riding on the high that I got from changing the blog, I quickly worked on another small project idea I had on the back burner for a while. I often use Adam Whitcroft’s excellent and free, Batch icon set in my front-end development work. But one thing I kept running into when using the set in my workflow was, when needing a particular icon, I usually knew exactly which icon I wanted visually. But didn’t know what the actual icon was called in the set.

This would cause a disruption in my workflow since every time I wanted to use an icon, I’d have to track down the icon in the set folder. Sifting through 300+ icons several times a day can be very time consuming.

So I came up with a very simple Sinatra app where all the icons are laid out with their file names. Now I can scroll through the set a lot more quickly and can even use command + F to search for various keywords that might be in the icon’s name. I’ll go into more details about this small app in another post.

Simply put, I’ve had spurts of happiness as a result of deleting the iPhone apps, changing the look and feel of the site and creating a simple page to view all the Batch icons.

Deleting the iPhone apps has allowed me to focus less on what goes on a small 3.5” screen and focus more on my friends and especially my beautiful, patient, and awesome wife.

Changing the look and feel of the site has removed a lot of the visual clutter and now allows me to focus on the writing and for the readers, hopefully focus on easily reading.

Creating the Batch icons viewer reminded me I enjoy creating things.

Even with all this, one would think I am happy. But I realized I’m not. While driving back home from dinner instead of conversing with my wife, my mind was preoccupied by the many projects I have accumulated over the past few weeks. These projects aren’t my own, they are actually contract projects.

I originally sought them out because it was something that was necessary. I was currently at a crossroad with where my career was going so to prepare, I sought out some contract projects to help ease the financial burden on my family. Thankfully, last week I found new employment. But instead of letting go of these projects once I had the new job, greed got to me and I wanted to hold on to them to create some extra financial cushion.

As a result, my mind has constantly been queued up with these projects, further pushing back my own personal projects down the queue. Realizing, I’m just not happy with how thinly stretched I am, I’ve decided to let go of these contract projects.

I’ve got two phone calls lined up in the morning to let the owners of these contract projects know that I won’t be continuing my work with them. One of my character flaws, is the inability to say no. This is due to the fact that I absolutely hate letting anyone down. But when thinking about how limited my time and energy really is and seeing as to where I’d like to focus my energy, I feel pruning these “branches” from my life will only lead to an increase in fruitfulness and growth.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I'd love to stay in touch and share more tips on programming and design and side projects. Sign up and I'll send you my articles straight to your email.
Next post: Batch Viewer