Hopefully a better approach than making a master design upfront

2 minute read

You can’t build a garden. You have to plant the seeds and let it grow naturally. It is a slow, deliberate process that involves guiding that growth rather than strictly planning out a structure. Hopefully, this website of mine is more like a garden than a construction project.

This idea of a “digital garden” is something I only recently heard of. Before, I would have tried to nail down every last detail of this blog before I even wrote a post. Instead, I actually wrote some posts in a Google Doc before I had a domain or a template on which to put those posts. If you are reading this post right as I post it, you’ll see that the site still has some growing to do. I’ll snip and prune away and, hopefully, it will take shape over time into something I can stand back and be proud of.

In the meantime, I’m not stressing about it - and that is the real beauty of a digital garden. I have done many side projects that very quickly felt like a ton of work and planning. When your unpaid hobby starts to feel like work, it becomes really easy to drop it and do something else. With a garden, however, it doesn’t feel like a ton of work. I’ve seen commercial farmers looking stressed and overworked, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nice old person pruning flowers in their front yard that look unhappy. Is it work? Sure. But it is never much work at once, and it is easy to walk away and come back later.

This approach works really well for a blog, but what about a personal project? I think that is the next step - to take something I have already put a lot of work into and treat it more like a garden. Maybe if I think of it more like “pulling a few weeds” I’ll be more inclined to put in a tiny bit of work all the time. I’m sure that tiny work over time would amount to much more than my current habit, which is to ignore a project for years at a time and then do a flurry of work in a month before I get exhausted from it all.

So, you heard it here first - 2022 is the year I pull the weeds in a project or two. My first stop will be my so-called Level Up Learning project. I had worked on it furiously while my kids were trapped at home during the height of the COVID pandemic, and once they returned to school I stopped updating it. It could use plenty of pruning, and I think it has the potential to grow into something pretty cool. For now, I’ll set a reminder to follow-up in 6 months. If I haven’t done some work on it by then, feel free to shame me for all the internet to see.



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