I have always wanted to contribute to Open Source. I have reaped the benefits of using Open Source packages throughout the years, I sincerely want to give back. What has been stopping me all this time? Lack of time is my main excuse. I have two small children and by the time I clean up from dinner and get them bathed and off to bed, there is little time left to code. I tend to use this excuse for lots of other tasks that I avoid around the house, like closet cleaning, reorganizing the garage, etc … But an excuse is exactly what it is.

I learned an invaluable technique to tackling projects around the house that I would like to get done, but seem too large or for some other reason have become subject to procrastination. First, I schedule a day to do something about it and then I put on a timer and just start doing it for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, I am officially done. I can quit with no guilt and have the lovely feeling of having made a dent. Most often, once I get started, I want to keep with it and really get rolling. That’s OK too.

Last Wednesday, I decided to apply this technique and made a date with Open Source. After a Ruby user group, the night before, demonstrated the mechanics of fixing a bug using GitHub, I was finally confident enough to give it a go myself. I created a GitHub account, forked the Redmine project, fixed a bite-sized bug and submitted a patch – all in one night!

I was so jazzed up about it, that I decided that I was going to continue in my Open Source contribution quest on a limited time budget, by declaring that my Wednesday night is my Open Source night. It might only be 15 or 30 min, but I will be doing something and feeling that contribution buzz goodness.

I encourage everyone that has been struggling to find time for Open Source to just schedule one night a week. Just do something for 15 min and see what flows …