A while ago I was having trouble working. I had just begun a new workout regimen, which was taking up a lot of my focus and willpower, as well as leaving me more tired with the same amount of sleep. I felt as useless and helpless as I can remember, staring at a todo list with very simple items on it, and being all but unable to get myself to finish them.
Thoughts tend towards permanence. As I sat there staring at my list of things to do, I noticed a thought cross my brain: I used to be so productive and now I'm not.
In these situations, I find it helpful to remember that everything passes. My least productive days will yield to more productive days, and my most productive days will be followed with less productive days.
Knowing that I will be productive again when I'm unproductive helps me put things in perspective. Rather than wallow in the doom of "losing it" and being unable to work efficiently again, I see my failure as a temporary valley. This enables me to keep a good attitude about it and focus on crawling my way out of that valley.
On the other hand, when I'm operating at my peak, I try to remember that I won't always be like this. That helps me appreciate the work I'm doing, focus on keeping the ball rolling as long as possible, and deriving enjoyment from my performance, soaking in the view at the top of the mountain.
There are very few things that are permanent in life, and clinging to those things or even hoping for them is counterproductive. It's better to develop strategies that account for life's variance and capitalize on it.
Dating is another example. I think it's always better to assume that it won't be permanent rather than to assume it will be. Taking this attitude will allow you to fully experience relationships while they last, fully appreciating the other person. When single, it allows you to enjoy the benefits of being single, knowing that it won't last forever. Contrast this to someone who takes their partner for granted, assuming the marriage will last just because of a half-day ceremony, or someone who complains about being single, ignorant to the benefits of being so.
As a rule of thumb, it's usually helpful to understand how the world really is and to plan around that. Almost everything in life is transient, so enjoy it while it lasts, and plan for what may come next.
Photo is Shibuya, Tokyo at night. Some awesome videos from the recent Japan trip:
One of my favorite proverbs is "this too shall pass" - it's wisdom through both good times and bad is powerful and something I try my best to keep in mind. As Abraham Lincoln put it:
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!
The picture isn't showing for me. Anyone else having this problem?
For two days, I didn't do any programming for SETT. The morning of the first day I was busy with other high priority stuff. I finished that up, ate lunch, and decided to work on SETT. But then... I didn't. I answered emails, played my violin, researched some stuff, and bought some plane tickets. I wasn't unproductive, but I was not working on my top priority, and I knew it.
That whole day I was tired, so I went to sleep early and woke up fresh the next day, ready for a full day of programming to make up for my prior shortfall. But again, I didn't program a line of code. I didn't even open up my code editor.
The next day I woke up mildly panicked. Two days of lost productivity is a bad thing, but worse was that was that I felt as though I lost my edge. Part of me wanted to work, but another part of me was avoiding it at all costs. It felt as though all this discipline I'd been building for the past couple years was crumbling to nothing. How disciplined could I be if I was unable to spur myself to action for two whole days?
Okay, let's diagnose this, I thought. I opened up a text editor and asked myself what my problem was. Why wasn't I working?
Last week I set out to see how many hours of programming work I could do in one week on CodeCombat, our multiplayer programming game for learning how to code. I clocked in at 120.75 hours. Here's the epic time-lapse video I generated from Telepath (watch in 1440p if you can):
So what did I learn from this experiment?
Adjustable height desks are amazing.
I bought one from Ergo Depot a few days before. I must have switched between sitting and standing fifty times last week. I would never have survived otherwise.