Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's a reasonable thing to do

My last posts were correct, I suspect. One of my largest issues is that of distraction, and of a lack of focus. When I get focused, I can get into a fantastic groove (and produce excellent things quickly! Looking at you, lexical analyzer for pish I wrote in an evening), so the problem becomes getting focused.

My day-to-day activities have helped to breed a lack of focus in me. I switch contexts so frequently that it is now habitual. I wake up, check hackernews for articles, read a few sentences from an article, and then engage switching between MSN, email, getting ready for school, and reading whatever little bits of whatever article I go to when alt+tabbing or ctrl+tabbing around. This has left me switching contexts in places where it's not demanded, and not focusing in when that's precisely what I need.

So the question becomes, "how can I focus?". It may be something I need to learn, but again, how? My thoughts are that it comes down to the mental discipline to force myself to finish a task. If I am blogging (for example) and I decide I would like to watch the new episode of Lost today, or check out a book on my shelf, or read old blog posts, I must force myself to finish my task and then switch instead of just switching as soon as the thought occurs.

This is likely applicable at a larger scale. Getting a project off the ground, or getting a serious improvement to one's self going, takes a lot of energy, which is present in the early stages. As time progresses though, New Task Energy wears off and you want to switch to something more exciting. I've got to learn to be fuelled by Achievement Energy (when I've finished a task) instead of by the energy I get from having something new to work on. I've got to pick reasonable goals and work toward them, and not start new things until I'm done chewing what I've bitten off.

This summer, I have some hopes. I'd like to build two things minimally, and five things maximally:

code style switcher
3d drawing environment
zoomable code editor
knowledge map collaboration station

I'm not even certain which of those is toughest. I also want to do other things, like dissect some open source code and mess with it (particularly the Cube engine used in games like Sauerbraten) and learn some webGL/jQuery/drupal stuff, and then general stuff like math and science skills, etc.

So, knowing that these are the things I'd like to end up with, I should draft some goals, some critical paths to the goals, and see what seems reasonable. The things which have my attention most at the moment are the knowledge map collaboration station and the 3d drawing environment.

That said, my plan is to not be especially productive until I want to be. I'm going to watch television, sleep, play video games, and read until I'm very bored of doing these things (I predict just less than 2 weeks of slacking) and then to come out of it a masterfully productive sort of person.

The biggest point I need to make here is that once I've set these goals up, I can break down tasks for what I'd like to finish, but once I am in the midst of a task, I must perform it to completion. Working on something halfway and dropping out is how to not finish it. Once I start a thing, I will go until it's done. Then it just becomes a problem of starting.

Good luck, future me.

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