My Take on the Don't Break the Chain and No Zero Days Techniques

Posted on March 13, 2015

Suitless Pursuits Progress

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to keep up with my side project, Suitless Pursuits. The crew requested a design refresh and on top of that, I wanted rewrite its backend. So I’ve been trying to keep up with this project by keeping to a principle: do one thing everyday. And the gif up there is a progress report of how it’s going so far (more on that later).

Apparently, this is a thing that Jerry Seinfeld (of all people) did to keep up with writing new jokes and coming up with a brand new material every year: he got a giant calendar and just put an x out on the day he wrote a joke. Eventually, he got a chain going and it felt good seeing that chain. Then all he had to do was to not break that chain.

I started doing it too

My Chain

That’s a tiny calendar in the inside of my notebook. You’ll notice that there were a couple of days I missed doing a chain. It sucked.

No Zero Days

Similar to the chain is a thing called No Zero Days. From what I can tell, it started with this reddit post. Here’s a summary:

No Non-Zero Days

Always do something every day. Even if it’s just one line of code. No matter how tired you are, or how lazy you feel - just one line. In my case, sometimes one line turns into a tiny sprint.

There are three of you

Past, Present and Future. Your past self has given you gifts (that line of code from yesterday) and your present self can give your future self a gift (another line of code). This is kind of new age-y but I dig it: I appreciate how much work I did yesterday and it motivates me today.

Forgiveness

Sometimes past you screws up. Forgive him but thank him for the times he didn’t.

Exercise and books

Take care of your body and take care of your mind. The original author expanded this by saying that endorphins from exercising give you a boost of energy for your task. He also recommends reading motivational books. For me, I bike to work and I rock climb. And considering I work at a major tech news site and I monitor / read a bunch of other publications, I think that counts.


Make a Progress Report

I’d like to take these principles and expand on them. I’m going to keep a diary of my progress with screenshots, gifs and mini reports. I haven’t decided how often I’ll post but consider this the first.

The idea is, if I really made some quality commits, there’d be something to show for it in the form of a screenshot or a gif.

The gif above is how the homepage of Suitless Pursuits will look. I haven’t done anything to rewrite the backend just yet since I’m so focused on look and feel. But I hope to have a build to show the team sometime this week.