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Accomplish more with the cult of done

A scrambled rubik's cube

Not so long ago I ran into a video about the "cult of done" and it helped me a lot with actually getting things done and stopping procrastinating my work.

In this post, I'd like to unpack the manifesto and see how this can apply to our work as software developers. Keep in mind that these points can also apply to other fields in your life.

What is the Cult of Done Manifesto?

Created by Bre Pettis & Kio Stark back in 2009. So it has been going around for quite a while. And to quote Bre Pettis:

The Cult of Done Manifesto is a special document. Written from bed with Kio Stark in our first few months of dating. It was one of those magic writing moments where I had the laptop open and our ideas flew onto the page. For me, it is a map of my 2009 heart. Getting it on paper was a cathartic documentation of my life, my soul, and my passion for unbridled creativity.

The manifesto

All right, let's dive right into unpacking this manifesto and my interpretation of each item.

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.

Ever tried the learn something new and felt completely overwhelmed and unsure where to start? This is the not knowing.

So what do we do? We take action. We dive deep into the problem and just try things. There doesn't need to be an end goal. Just doing. And after 30 minutes you're done. You're complete. You've learned something, you've become more wise than 30 minutes ago. And then repeat this cycle.

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.

Oh, did I mention that this article is a draft, it's been typed up within 30 minutes, with minimal editing (to get the obvious errors out) and published for you to read.

Does this mean you should be sloppy? No not at all, you should give it your best. But accept that it isn't perfect. Because honestly, after this article I can write another article that'll be a bit better. Remember this, prototypes end up in production all the time.

3. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.

Basically "fake it till you make it". Although I am not fully a fan of this attitude it can help you in certain situations. Like when your client asks you to solve a tricky bug in a piece of software you've never lied your eyes on. You have no clue what's going on, but the client doesn't need to know this. You'll figure it out, I know you will.

4. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.

Got this awesome project idea you want to create, but you just can't get yourself to start? Put it away, don't bother. Do something else. The point is to get something done. If you don't start you will never get something done. Your brain is probably full of ideas, so you can work on something else. Maybe you'll visit this project again in the future, but for now, put it away. You have better things to do than to waste your time procrastinating.

5. The point of being done is not the finish but to get other things done.

Admit it, you'll never finish your website. And that's okay. But finishing is not the same as being done. Your website can be done without actually being finished. A website can be a collection of smaller parts that you've done. Over time you'll create a fully-fledged website. One that's never finished, because you'll think of new things to add to it.

6. Once you're done you can throw it away.

Yes, when you've done something, you can put it aside, throw it away, or forget about it. No need to keep coming back to the same project. You've done it. Now go do something else. Either something new or a better iteration.

7. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.

You'll never be done if you keep trying to make it better. At some point, it's good enough and you should probably call it done. It doesn't help if you burn yourself out on the same boring task. Because you won't get it done, and it doesn't help you on your future projects because you're burned out.

8. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.

If the people criticising your work aren't doing the same or similar work, their criticism is null and void. Don't listen or laugh it off.

9. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.

Sometimes you fail. Sometimes you make mistakes. And that's all right. Because you've done something. You've learned and grown. Consider your task done. Even if the result wasn't what you've aimed at. Next time you'll do better with your new knowledge.

10. Destruction is a variant of done.

Crazy to think about. How can destroying something mean you're done? Sometimes it's as easy as deleting all your old code because either you found a better way to do it. Or found a library that could do it better. Either way, the code you wrote is done.

11. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.

Ever had a good idea and for whatever reason you can't or won't execute this idea? Why not share it on the internet? Maybe someone out there will work on it. And if it's something you want to use yourself too, you help yourself as well. Consider it done. You could combine this with point 4, if you're procrastinating the idea maybe let someone else do it.

12. Done is the engine of more.

Ever wondered why some people seem to be so productive? Because they get things done. It creates momentum. One done thing leads to two done things. It's addictive.


And that's it. What do you think? Do you think this manifesto might help you accomplish more? Remember that not everything needs to be followed to the tee, you can adapt things so that they will fit your life better.

Now, go work on that project and get it done.

That's it for now, have a lovely day!

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