My Thoughts & Views

Unproductiveness

Posted on: December 23, 2008

Sometimes I just can’t get anything done.

Sure, I come into the office, roam around, check my email every ten seconds, read the web and even do a few brainless tasks. But getting back into the flow of writing code just doesn’t happen.

These periods of unproductiveness usually last for a day or two. But there have been times in my career as a developer when I went for weeks at a time without being able to get anything done. I was not in flow. I was not in the zone. I was not anywhere.

Everybody has mood swings, for some people they are mild, for others, they can be more dysfunctional.

It makes me think of those researchers who say that basically people can’t control what they eat, so any attempt to diet is bound to be short term and they will always return back to their natural weight. Maybe as a software developer I really can’t control when I’m productive, and I just have to take the slow times with the fast times and hope that they average out to enough lines of code to make me employable.

What drives me crazy is that ever since my first job I’ve realized that as a developer, I usually average about two or three hours a day of productive coding. One fellow worker mentioned me that he too can work productively for 2 to 3 hours a day.

Sometimes I feel guilty when I see how hard everybody else seems to be working, & I get about two or three quality hours in a day. But its not the days when I “only” get two hours of work done that worry me. It’s the days when I can’t do anything.

I have thought about this a lot, as per my understanding the productivity greatly depends on the work environment like Google or Microsoft Office.

Many of my days go like this:
(1)get into office
(2)check email, read the web
(3)decide that today I will work productively
(4)lunch time comes I go out for lunch, at hotel I think that once I go back I will do work
(5)Come back from lunch, read news paper
(6)Check email, facebook, read the web
(7)Finally decides to start working and realize that its already 8:00
(8)leave office

This reminds of Newton’s law, An object at rest tends to remain at rest……
And over the years I have figured out what we have to do in such unproductive periods, the rule is simple, get started & stick to it………… once you get into the flow, its not too hard to keep moving as other part of Newton’s law mentions it, an object in motion tends to move until and unless an external force is applied………

What do you do in such unproductive situations?

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