My 8th grade Humanities teacher was one of the best I had in middle school. Unlike many teachers he wasn’t focused on filling our heads with curriculum. Instead he tried to teach us skills we needed to be useful adults.
On the first day of class he told us that one of the most important things we could learn in his class was to write clearly. As adults it wouldn’t matter so much if we’d read The Red Badge of Courage but it would matter if we could communicate well in writing.
To achieve this goal he required us to write for 2.5 hours a week. This was in addition to any essays or other writing assigned by our teachers. With this assignment his goal was quantity over quality. He believed that if we each spent over 100 hours just writing that school year we would improve. I certainly improved during that year but I also learned not to dread writing and became less intimidated by a blank page.
I think that the same idea would work well for improving programming skills. During the month of June I’m going to spend 2.5 hours a week on my personal programming projects. My rules are simple:
- Things I’m paid for don’t count toward the goal
- Time spent writing blog posts, preparing talks, reading stack overflow, etc doesn’t count
- Everything I write toward this goal must be pushed to github
- A week starts at Midnight Sunday and ends at 11:59 Saturday
- To increase my accountability I’ll either blog or tweet what I did each week.
I’d love to have others join me. You can tweet at me or email me to let me know what you spent your two and a half hours on each week. I know many folks who already spend more than 2.5 hours a week on open source and personal projects but I also know there are lots of folks like me who either spend less time or goof off during the time they have set aside for personal projects.