What Have You Shipped Today?

When you’re wanting to get something done, Be it an application coded, more visitors to your site, or even writing a book, you have to work at it. Whatever it is you want to release isn’t going to build itself.

I used to sit around, think up cool ideas, then do nothing on them and wonder why it didn’t happen. About two years ago that changed. Now I’ve released three things personally, and I’m helping a close friend release a fourth. So what made me go from dreamer to do-er?

The answer is a simple question: “What have you shipped today?”

That’s the question I try to ask myself everyday. No, you’re not going to actually ship something everyday. That’s not how I look at the question. I look at it more as “what have you done towards shipping today?” meaning what did I do to move me closer to the goal of shipping whatever is I’m building.

Large things like applications, books, screencasts, home repairs, don’t happen in one big sweeping gesture, they are the accumulation of of a bunch of smaller actions. When writing a book, you might set a goal of 1,000 words a day. If you can “ship” that daily, then one day you can ship the entire book. Put it out on Amazon, get it printed, and so on. You want to ship a book, but shipping a book means spending many days shipping just a small amount of words. So when you are asked “What did you ship today?” you can say “I wrote 1,000 words in my novel.”

Most of what I ship is application code. Recently it’s been screencasts for CodeCasts.tv. But everyday I try and ask myself “What did I ship today?” or “What will I ship today?” And this question gets me motivated to do something. It makes me want to get something done.

So, what have you shipped today? This week? This month? This year?

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