January 31, 2016
My friend TJ shipped his app earlier this week.
He's been talking about this app and some of the ideas behind it since I first met him at CocoaConf DC years ago.
It's a much better app because of all of the thought he's put into it - but at some point he decided to ship it.
I don't just mean he decided abstractly "I should ship this app". He'd been toying with that idea for many years. I mean that he set a deadline for himself and said "I plan on shipping this app by this date."
This turned out to be a great strategy.
He missed the date by a tiny amount - but without that date he wouldn't have shipped at all. Having a ship date allowed him to look at things he wanted to do before the app shipped and say, "sorry, this isn't going to make it into the first release."
You will always come up with new features or refinements for your app. There are plenty of things you can work on to extend the time between now and when you share what you've been working on with the rest of the world.
This is true about books. This is true about art. This is true about any creative endeavor. I can always be better.
Sure there are plenty of parts that people can see that can be better, but we obsess on the things people will never see or notice that can be better. What if we rename this method - that's a much better name. The user doesn't care what method is called when they tap this button - they only care that the button tap results in the behavior they expect.
Set a ship date and ship.
When I was in graduate school several years into the research for my thesis I read a book of advice for graduate students that said "at some point your job is to finish and get out"
There will always be interesting questions you can spend more time looking into for your thesis. These questions can be great fodder for papers you will write after you graduate.
Let go of all the reasons that keep you from sharing the wonderful things you create with the world.
So many people bemoan the gaps between Apple products and their (unrealistic) expectations. "Steve," they say, "would never have shipped that."
Generally, they are wrong. Apple shipped a lot of products that weren't as good in their initial incarnation as people may remember in retrospect.
In fact, Steve Jobs famously said, "Real artists ship."
You can and should make great - not just good. Don't let perfection keep you from shipping something that is great. Once you've shipped, make it better.
That's my third word for 2016.
I set a goal for myself. By the end of January I wanted to have the three words I would live by for the rest of the year.
The words are "Rapt", "Move", and "Ship".
I set a deadline. I met a deadline.