The last 2 years or so have been a huge learning curve for myself and Elliot, we’ve gone from novice programmers to learning and juggling 4-5 different programming languages on a daily basis. Some might say an impossible task, except….its not. We don’t really feel like anything is impossible and we don’t feel like more knowledge can ever really be bad knowledge. It does however throw up a very good question in the life of a programmer and designer. When is taking too much on and learning too much really too much? When does juggling too many different things and trying to do too many different bits and bobs really start to affect the productivity in areas which are really the important ones to your business?
Well heres the view we take, get the work done that you need to get done in your normal daily working hours……then try maybe every other night spending an hour just looking at something new (somedays or weeks as us designers all know this just in reality may not be possible), read a book, learn something and before you know it you’ll be surprised at how much it helped or what that extra bit of knowledge might help you with in the future.
This could be as simple as writing a blog post, following some interesting people on twitter, spending the time just to see what other designers are up to or just setting personal goals together about what potentially could be most useful for you individually to learn for the greater collective of the company. Eg maybe what could help improve an existing project or maybe what we need to learn to unlock greater possibilities in the future. As techies we’ve somewhat got our work cut out, as you could never learn everything in our field of work, nor would it seem like a good idea to even try and attempt it.
Interestingly especially for us as company directors and full time designers / programmers we often have to prioritize our work as a matter of utmost importance. Not only do we have to pull all of the strings with the work load our products produce, but we also take care of all the running of the business. Thus if we spent all our time improving our own personal skills but not metaphorically speaking ‘putting pen to paper’ with any produce, its worthless to us as a company and after a while most likely Bytewire would be no longer.
I think that controlling this at a personal level is really difficult, even when you are a director of the company….just like me. I’ll always look at things other people have done and think woah I want to do that as well, but one thing weve learnt over the 2 years we’ve been a company is that produce comes first, refining and development comes after. After all first you must have a base to build from as the saying goes…..”don’t try to walk before you can crawl”. With everything you try to do, especially if you are running your own company you should try and tie learning it into a real product or finished product that could be of use. That way things aren’t simply just a waste of time from a business perspective. As a small business moving in a quickly changing environment its very important to get out there and make sure you identify what is ‘your thing’ and build your base here as quickly as possible. This is not to say you shouldn’t toy around, some of the best things ever made started out as just messing around to see what could come of a random idea. Infact that’s where Bytewire came from
So try something new, spend some time learning something, develop your skills…..but remember if your ever faced with a choice……fix or make something for a REAL project or spend time to learn something new. ALWAYS make sure the product comes first.