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Frontend Forum #2: Getting (and staying) motivated

I’m not gonna be publishing one of these every day, I swear.

Acute Rabbit on Cohost suggested:

Maybe some motivational tips on how to actually “finish” it? Like, I know what I want to do and somewhat how to do it, but like… I just don’t feel like it, you know?

Video clip of Shia LaBeouf gesticulating aggressively at the viewer whilst shouting the words transposed on top of the clip: 'just do it'.

Okay, maybe that’s not so helpful.

Still, the first step towards being motivated to do something—in general, not just in development—is to make yourself do it, even if you don’t feel like it.

It only feels like work up until the point it doesn’t anymore.

As for web development specifically…

Websites are living things

There’s a reason why the “under construction” GIF is such an iconic symbol of the personal website.

The truth is that these websites are never truly finished because there is no concrete ending for them. They aren’t printed books or physical albums. There is no deadline to meet, no gold master to manufacture, no manuscript that needs approval.

Websites are living things. They can change endlessly, forever.

Especially if it’s a website about yourself or your work, your website will have to keep evolving alongside you, adapting to meet new needs and desires as they appear.

So my advice is to embrace not finishing what you do.

Upload what you’ve done.

Right now.

Go on.

The same clip of Shia LaBeouf shouting 'just do it'.

Having something online, no matter how incomplete, is better than having nothing.

You may not have built a house yet, but you’ve started pouring a foundation that you can build upon as time, resources and motivation permits.

An amphimorpho cheekily sticking its tongue out at you.

And knowing that other people will be looking at it is often a great source of motivation to make it better, if you’re that kind of conceited and/or self-conscious.

It doesn’t have to be good. It never has to be good. The website you’re reading right now is intentionally not the best website that I could make, because perfection is unattainable and aiming for it is a curse.

Keeping on keeping on

If you stay consistent, making iterative improvements almost becomes a natural process.

Perhaps you’ve noticed yourself repeating some inlined CSS across multiple pages.

Taking the time to abstract that out into a new class in a stylesheet becomes a natural improvement to make. It requires a little extra effort, but you’ve made your code cleaner and future changes a little bit easier.

Down the line your site has grown to a dozen or so pages and making even minor changes start to become a chore. Instead of manually editing each file, you could transition everything to use a static-site generator.

Splitting things into partials and configuring the generator is a bit of faff, but with an evening of effort you’ve made your website more consistent and much easier to update going forward.

Maybe you’re doing some big changes, or you’ve been bitten by the bug and are FTPing files up and down multiple times throughout the day.

You could put things into source control and set up a deployment pipeline instead. That’d help prevent you accidentally deleting something and changes would get uploaded without even thinking about it.

Setting up source control and fine tuning the deployment process might take several hours over the course of a week, but now your code is solidly backed up and you’ve abstracted away an otherwise time-consuming manual process.

This is all very presumptive, beeps

Yeah, probably. A motivational speaker I am not.

In this regard, I can only speak my truth, and that’s that you should…

Shia LaBeouf shouting 'just do it'.