One of the most difficult aspects of building websites or doing knowledge work full-time is the lack of motivation and pride that typically comes from physically seeing the work of your hands. Yes, it is possible to achieve this sense of accomplishment when working purely with information and computers, but it’s far from natural.
Looking at my own life, I compare it to woodworking. When I build a piece of furniture I rarely need a to-do list for it. And (given available time) I don’t struggle with getting to work on it like I do a bug-fix. I know that I can go to the woodshop, see my current progress, immediately determine what comes next, and get to work. And when I’m done, there is a innate joy that comes from having built the piece or at least made progress on it.
But when it comes to websites, it’s a different story. I need a list to know where I left off. And I have to develop tricks and rituals to motivate me to get to work. Even after I’m done with the build I need to reflect on my work and put it in perspective to understand its value and develop pride in my work.
The weird part of this is that I really enjoy both. But I do think there’s value in understanding the feelings and mechanics that come with working as a craftsman. If they can be applied to knowledge work, I think there is a drive and enjoyment we can achieve that has typically been reserved for those working with their hands.