A while back, I caught a cold and was sick for a few days. And the weirdest thing happened…
Because as programmers, most of what we do every day is in our mind. Right? Not like an athlete, where they must fully use their body. And an athlete must use his or her mind too, of course. But it’s not the same as for us. To create code, to do our work, we must be able to concentrate… holding a focus inside.
We develop this ability over time. So we get good at it, without even realizing it.
As it turns out, when I get the flu or a bad cold or something, one of the first things to dull is my keen mental ability. My powers of concentration, of creative focus.
Coding while I’m sick? Fuggedaboudit.
I can overcome that with sheer willpower, a little bit… but I’ve mostly come to accept that when I get sick, I’ll just spend a few days watching movies, sleeping a lot, and mindlessly bouncing about online.
But that’s okay: once I recover, my mind bounds back with a vengeance.
This all reminds me of our most important resource these days…
And it’s not money, of course. Though that IS a valuable resource.
Is it time? No, actually. I don’t believe so.
In my cavalier, high-handed opinion, there’s another resource even more valuable than your time:
Especially in today’s world. Where almost everything around you is carefully designed, a-b-split-tested, and fully optimized to grab your attention from you… whether you want that or not.
You know exactly what I mean.
So the big secret to being massively successful in today’s world… in my bold, brazenly un-humble, un-abashed opinion… lies in how well you can win this battle for your mind. The battle for your most precious resource of all: your attention.
This relates greatly to programming, doesn’t it?
So wherever you are right now, I want you to stop a moment…
And think about what you invested your attention in earlier today, or yesterday.
If you had that day to do over again, would you have invested your attention in the same things? Is there anything you would have preferred not to give your attention to?
Not-giving-attention is a skill you can get better at. So if there was something that took up your attention, that wasn’t worth it… ask yourself how you can keep your attention for more important things, the next time it occurs.
I’ve found that the better I get at not allowing outside forces to hijack my attention, the better I get at a lot of things – but coding in particular. I’m curious if you’ll find the same happens for you.