TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

Getting into the zone - Crazy tips for maximum productivity

The zone is a mysterious place familiar to deep thinkers. It is a mode of consciousness in which you are almost superhumanly intelligent and productive. Hard problems are solved in the zone. Getting into the zone is not easy, but it pays off. The downside to the zone is that it raises your expectations from yourself and others so much you will never be satisfied by normal again. The upside is that you realize what you are truly capable of.

In the zone, your mind is a blade, a ferocious form of violent, nearly malicious intelligence.

Keeping track of time

For the last few years I've been using a nifty little program called gtimelog to keep track of how much time I am actually working (and in a basic way on what), and how much time I am off work, whether it is for a meal, a personal phone call, random web surfing etc.

On motivation

Don't wish for the peak while you are still climbing the mountain.

This is going to take as long as it's going to take to do it at a satisfactory level of quality.

Mental shortcuts and trying to rush through the motions will significantly extend how long it takes to achieve this goal.

You have to focus on the next step, and enjoy taking it.

I suspect you are going to have miserable miserable time if you are praying for it to finally be over.

Just say no to multi-tasking: reflections on productivity

Tafasta merubhe, lo tafasta.
תפסת מרובה לא תפסת

- Ancient Hebrew proverb from the Talmud (Translation: Try to catch too much, catch nothing.)

I had an unsatisfying couple of days that got me thinking what I was doing wrong.

In retrospect, I realized I was jumping all over the place, trying to keep too many balls in the air. I was investigating the rsync algorithm, while trying to fix a TurnKey build problem, while researching distributed filesystems, etc.

This is problematic for two main reasons:

Insights on what makes me productive

A few insights I've had with regards to what makes me productive:

  1. satisfying "meaty" workplans: I tend to be much more productive if I something on my table I can really sink my teeth into. The best example is an interesting development project with the high-level design sketched up and a road-map with deliverable testable milestones for me to bite through one mouthful at a time.

Why I resist criticism (loss aversion and cognitive dissonance)

Have you ever felt like your Ego is getting in the way of being productive?

These last few days I've been feeling I might be overly resistant to criticism with regards to some new stuff I've been developing. So as an anti-dote I'm writing this blog post to remind myself why that might be.

In a nutshell, I think I tend to fall in love with my creations and let it bias my judgement.

Remember, the more effort you put into something the more attachment you feel towards it. It's a well known cognitive effect. You need to make sure you compensate for that and don't let your ego get the better of you.