Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Coding for 8 hours straight and staying focused

  Hello, everyone!

  Last Saturday I was supposed to go to a Ruby meetup in DC that was cancelled last minute. So I thought to myself, "well, I was supposed to spend 3 hours driving to DC, spend 2 hours at the meetup, and 3 hours driving home. How about I spend 8 hours on studying instead?".  Well, I did. Should you do it? Do I want to do it again?

  I have a difficult time focusing at home, when I try to sit down and study and/or code. My wife tries to be as mindful as she can when I am buried into my laptop, but with her cooking in the kitchen, my dog barking,  our bird chirping, house chores, TV on in the next room, the laundry buzzer going off, etc etc it is not easy to concentrate.

My dog Zoe especially insists on supervising my studying,
and she wants to make sure that I am aware that she is here for me in case I need anything.
Anything at all!!!!

  Well, I did find another trick that has been working for me. Lately I have been "running away from home" to study. After work, I come home, walk the dog, say hello to the Mrs, and then go study somewhere else for 2-3 hours. My locations of choice are coffee shops with good wifi. I get me a cup of coffee, put on my headphones and study. Zero distractions. :)

  So last Saturday, I went to my local Panera Bread in the morning and spent 8 hours studying. I had breakfast and lunch there. I was pretty tired but it was productive 8 hours. I did Chapters 47 and 48 of "Learn Ruby the Hard Way", Chapters 11 and 12 of Chris Pine's "Learn to Program" and worked a little on a couple of scripts I am writing as side projects. It felt really good to knock those chapters of my to-do list, and move forward.

  I mentioned it before in my blog, but when I code for more than 2 hours, the Pomodoro Technique is what really helps me stay focused. Basically, I study for 25 minutes until the timer goes off, and then I have a 5 minute break (where I do something totally unrelated to give my mind some rest: browse Facebook, check my text messages, watch a cat video on youtube...). Once 5 minutes are up, it is back to laser-focused studying for next 25 minutes without any distractions. It really helps me out, and I don't get burned out or tired. It has really changed the way I study.

  So, coding for 8 hours straight... Do I want to do it again? Heck, yes. I loved getting so much stuff done in one day, and seeing so much progress. I am looking forward to when I can schedule another power study day!

  Should you do it? That is something that you might have to decide for yourself, but it sure is a great way to get some of your projects done that have been on your back burner.

  Last piece of advice in case you do. Make sure you do a nice physical activity to get your heart rate up after you spend 8 hours staring into your laptop (go for a walk, for a jog, for a bike ride). What a satisfying way to end a super productive day!

 Have a great day, everyone, and thanks for reading!