New Ideas and Overwhelm: Ramping up as Workflow

This year’s vacation has given me time to do more of my own creative work and I’ve found both the Garmin ConnectIQ SDK for Sport Watches and the Amazon Alexa SDK for Voice Services to be fertile ground. I like to think that one of my stronger talents is to quickly see how new technology can be applied and both of these software/hardware systems have a wide array of possibilities.

My first idea for a ConnectIQ app is to provide triathletes a way to get the fueling information they need during a race and I have ideas on a web-based approach to creating a community, possibly interacting with TrainingPeaks or MyFitnessPal, and monetizing it.

For an Alexa skill I’m looking at providing business folk a way to improve efficiency in meetings. This could be something embedded in Amazon’s Echo, sold on their developer store, or possibly licensed as a technology.

Awesome. I love the rush of having a new idea and seeing its’ potential. Let’s do this! So I jump in (and RTFM) and reality hits hard: these aren’t things that I can throw together in a couple of hours. Seeing the ideas through to fruition will take commitment. Just starting my Alexa idea involves

  • learning the SDK
  • learning a new language
  • learning the SDK
  • setting up a back end website
  • setting up
  • actual coding

I’m reminded of the old adage about how you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. I’m not sure that person ever had a full-time job, two kids, and a house I think it is more like “How do you eat a second elephant while juggling on a unicycle?”. It’s at this point I need to step back and take a breath. The psychology of overwhelm really impacts any forward movement.

Instead of fretting over not being able to start coding right away, I think a better approach is to accept that the project startup includes phases like “Self Training”, “Infrastructure Setup”, and “Prototyping the Design”. Formally recognizing those things as part of the creative process gives them the space they need and reduces the overwhelm.

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