Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Power of Boredom

I love the Wolverine look  of this selfie.

    When working on any project, there are points or days when nothing seems to get done.  Maybe some tweaks here or there, but nothing substantial.  For me, this is usually when I am planning an undertaking that will require extra thinking or effort to complete.  I form the original plan or concept and start my mind thinking about the various ways and variables that will be involved in completing the task(s).  This week it is more of the A.I. logic for the computer opponent, but other weeks it could be something else.  The point is that the tasks are going to require some effort and when you sit down to do the work, your mind just shies away from concentrating on the task.
    In my case, this is usually a few mental or physical non-related tasks that can distract from the actual work.  Maybe a bit of news reading, a study of a new programming constructs or language, or some household chores that need to be done.  We all have our ways of getting out of work, even when you work for yourself.   "If I catch up on this, I will be free to work on that", my thinking runs.  Sometimes it works, but most times, it just took you away from the required job.  This can lead to more inertia building up for the task and mentally making it harder to tackle later on.  Weird, but it feels like this at times.
    Setting an actual time to start work for the day or scheduling work periods, helps a lot avoid this procrastination.  Other times, you sit at your work area and just feel bored or uninspired.  It is easy to be bored with something that you do all the time, like programming, writing, or even driving a truck. It is pretty hard to avoid boredom in most jobs.  In my case, I find that embracing my boredom instead of trying to alleviate it helps break the cycle.  Recognizing that I am bored, especially when I have a tough task ahead, is the first step.  Once I catch on what my brain is trying to pull, it is usually better to just sit there and start reviewing the task at hand.  Maybe looking over previous notes or just throwing a few designs on a white board related to the problem will start overcoming the boredom and start the work moving forward.  After a bit of review or some 'blue-sky' ideas,  I find my interest starting to pick up and the old familiar feeling of fixing or solving a problem starts to show up.  Once I am programming and seeing the problem getting solved, then time flies and the boredom is just a memory.
    In short, if I recognize I am procrastinating or pushing the task down the road, it helps to pick at the problem edges until something triggers that old enthusiasm for the job.  Everyone loves doing something and hopefully it is something they do in their work.  In my case, it is design and programming.  I just need to get bored sometimes to get the work done.

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