Do Less, Care More

I’m an active person. I quit my job to become a freelance developer in April, so I’m constantly moving between projects as well as trying to track down future work. To those ends, I’m involved on the internet with Twitter, this blog, and a slew of other social sites. I’m also involved at my church, working part time developing a leadership training program, and I also volunteer on the pastoral care team, help with student training, and play music on the Sunday band from time to time. And I have a family, a wife and two amazing kids. I love being involved.

But recently I’ve rethinking my level of involvement. I’m not quite hitting the wall. I learned in college how much activity I could handle and how much I couldn’t. So I’m able to do what I commit to, but sometimes only just. I get things done, but I haven’t had the time to put that is necessary for the passion to come through in the work, the extra time for polish and tweaking, to make sure my work is the best it can be. This has caused me to think, why am I involved in so many things? My initial response was that I cared about so many things. There are a lot of things worth doing, people who need help, projects that need work. But if I’m only just getting by, do I really care about what I’m doing, or do I just care about being involved?

That is a deep question, and in many ways I’ve only begun to formulate answers for myself. But the question of care could not have come at a more opportune time. A month or so ago I started work on an iPad app. Two weeks ago I was technically ready to submit the app to the iTunes App Store. Functionally it worked, I tested it on my new iPad and everything functioned properly. A friend of mine tested on his iPad 2, and while it worked most of the time, there was a bug that caused the main window to display off-centered. I also wasn’t completely happy with the look of the interface. The app generally made sense and worked fine, but it didn’t quite feel like it fit. This led me to ask myself, do I care about this app? Or put another way, do I like this app? The honest answer turned out to be no. I didn’t quite like it. I appreciated the work I put into it, I was excited to begin selling an app on the App Store. But if it wasn’t mine, I probably wouldn’t buy it.

After this realization, I set to work. I changed and tweaked the interface, I fixed and tested the alignment bug, and I worked for hours on designing a new app icon. When you care about something, there are a lot of little details that need attention and polish. Two extra weeks of work and a couple late nights later, I submitted the app to the iTunes Store. And now I can proudly tell you that I built something that I care about. Sure there are more features I want to add. But I can honestly say that the app I built, I like. It does what I want it to and feels nice to use.

All in all, this was a small exercise in what will undoubtedly be a larger focus in my life. But it starts with one thing, and grows from there. There is only so much time in a day. I don’t have time to care about everything. I can do a lot more if I don’t care so much. But I’d rather do less and care more, and teach others to care more while I’m at it.