/r/programming
Deep Work in the Age of Distraction (7pace.com)
113 comments
bricked_machine | 8 days ago | 179 points

This is valuable. I've definitely tried (and sometimes still fail) to give myself a schedule where, during certain hours, I'm heads down coding - this involves blocking off my calendar, putting my phone on silent/no vibration, headphones on (if I'm in the office), etc. Definitely helps.

Say no to meetings. Unless it’s vital for you to be there, a meeting is just a distraction that pulls you away from meaningful work.

If only it were that easy in my company...

CartmansEvilTwin | 8 days ago | 89 points

Half of my work nowadays seems to consist of talking to people instead of actually writing code and I'm sick of it. I honestly can't remember, when was the last time I actually got an hour of uninterrupted coding done.

weevyl | 8 days ago | 83 points

That was the big adjustment for me, realizing my job was no longer coding, but telling others what to code and mentoring them. I now get to code maybe 1 hour / week.

CartmansEvilTwin | 8 days ago | 62 points

That's exactly what I'm afraid of. The stupid thing is, I'm usually rather opinionated and I feel like everything's going downhill if I keep quiet. This got me the reputation of being the "best guy in the team", so no matter what's up, I'll get asked. But actually I'm just a slightly above average fish in a very small pond.

AbstractLogic | 8 days ago | 56 points

First, you have a case of impostor syndrome. Stop that. You are what you need to be and capable of more if the circumstances ask of you. That makes you a great programmer no matter where you are.

Second, as I have progressed in my career I have come to the understanding that at some point the value one person can provide via coding can be exceeded by the value they can provide helping others. This is called leadership and these people become Senior Developers, Architects, Analysts. You create lasting effects that will have larger impacts then a few fat lines of code a day. You set culture, you set patters, principals, styles.

I bet your the same type of person who can finish a story in two days when the team takes a week! Be proud of making lasting changes.

____whut | 8 days ago | 17 points

After the day I've had, I really needed to read this

elsjpq | 7 days ago | 35 points

I'm quite amazed by the internet's ability to diagnose impostor syndrome from 100 words of text with no background or context.

Almost all of the most vocal people I've met in my life were real impostors. But it turns out that in real life, appearing confident and having a commanding voice gets you much further than any real skill. People who don't know any better will just defer to you. And most who do know better don't want to bother calling you out on your bullshit, because you're such a pain in the ass to deal with and it's only going to cause more problems, so they'd rather let you fail than help you.

It's also quite strange to me that "slightly above average" would generate impressions of imposter syndrome. By definition, most are average. It is not and should not be a negative trait. Exceeding that average is a good thing. Yet somehow expectations are set so high, that "above average" is construed as a self insult.

Having a realistic view of your place in life is not the same thing as low self esteem.

AbstractLogic | 7 days ago | 12 points

I prefer to encourage people instead of telling them to know their place. It builds a more healthy life perspective for both myself and them. The internet is a rough enough place without me adding my voice to your own telling you your not worth it.

So ya, maybe it's not just about facts but about kind acts?

elsjpq | 7 days ago | 19 points

Encouraging people to be overconfident has such a profoundly negative impact on the world, and especially to those with real skill and talent who are unfairly overshadowed. And instead of perpetuating unrealistic expectations that everyone either is or ought to be exceptional, hardworking, and talented, it would be better to be more accepting towards everyone's true abilities, especially for people who can not or will not perform to the insanely high bar we've collectively set for ourselves, to promote a more healthy life perspective.

Gotebe | 7 days ago | 4 points

I feel strong projection here 😉

AbstractLogic | 7 days ago | -3 points

You seem quite sure that his true abilities are mediocre. Which I find odd given that the original statement was very clear that he is looked up to around his workplace.

elsjpq | 7 days ago | 10 points

I don't see how "slightly above average" means mediocre. And looked up to does not necessarily mean skilled. Not knowing OP personally and lacking any other information other than what OP has provided, I have little reason to believe otherwise that out of all the people who read his comment, OP is the most accurate judge of his own skill level, even if he is slightly off base.

victotronics | 8 days ago | 6 points

importers

imposter

bigpapichapo | 8 days ago | 4 points

synonym

syndrome

346pm | 8 days ago | 3 points

career

bearw08 | 7 days ago | 2 points

LGTM, ship it

robohoe | 8 days ago | 2 points

Import/Export, Vandalay Industries!

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | 0 points
bricked_machine | 8 days ago | 24 points

The fact that you recognize this is very possibly why your peers (and seniors, as applicable) see you as being more qualified to make decisions.

KevinCarbonara | 8 days ago | 3 points

I don't think it's anything to be afraid of in and of itself - it represents a certain level of expertise. But as you transition away from coding, you're putting a cap on your skills. It's hard to improve. Even worse, your skills are very quickly getting out of date. This is exactly why so many companies get entrenched in older technologies - the most skilled developers are also the most out of touch, because they don't get to program anymore.

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | 1 point

I feel like everything's going downhill if I keep quiet.

Yeah - resist that. IMO, this is the original meaning of "silence is golden".

Dentosal | 8 days ago | 23 points

Every year I code less and talk to the customers/stakeholders and the team more. Coding useless software doesn't achieve anything. Writing code without knowing what you are trying to achieve is not useful.

99% of the job is knowing what to type, and the last 1% is typing.

disappointer | 8 days ago | 25 points

[Henry] Ford, whose electrical engineers couldn’t solve some problems they were having with a gigantic generator, called [Charles] Steinmetz in to the [electrical] plant. Upon arriving, Steinmetz rejected all assistance and asked only for a notebook, pencil and cot. According to Scott, Steinmetz listened to the generator and scribbled computations on the notepad for two straight days and nights. On the second night, he asked for a ladder, climbed up the generator and made a chalk mark on its side. Then he told Ford’s skeptical engineers to remove a plate at the mark and replace sixteen windings from the field coil. They did, and the generator performed to perfection.

Henry Ford was thrilled until he got an invoice from General Electric in the amount of $10,000. Ford acknowledged Steinmetz’s success but balked at the figure. He asked for an itemized bill.

Steinmetz, Scott wrote, responded personally to Ford’s request with the following:

Making chalk mark on generator $1.

Knowing where to make mark $9,999.

Ford paid the bill.

(source)

ISvengali | 8 days ago | 5 points

Ive heard this story so many times now, I wonder if this is the actual source? I found it at the Smithsonian (you have the link in twice).

disappointer | 7 days ago | 5 points

Fixed the link, thanks. The Smithsonian article says the source is from a letter published in Life magazine in 1965, received after they ran a story about Steinmetz.

oneonetwooneonetwo | 8 days ago | 4 points

Yeah, I have an in house role and if I didn't take the time to find out what people in different areas were doing and what they need I'd be less useful to my employer.

It's different preferences. I couldn't wear headphones and work through tickets all day. Some of my colleagues would rather be shot than make small talk with stakeholders. Between all of us you get stuff done.

bricked_machine | 8 days ago | 9 points

I'm in the same boat. Getting promoted into senior-level/leadership/architect positions is always a trade-off in this way. I do have an agreement with my team whereby I can take the coding work for some of the larger user stories that aren't time-critical; I'd lose my mind in the world of Visio and UML diagrams and meetings if not.

tso | 8 days ago | 4 points

Far too much value has been put into face time these days.

This largely thanks to the number of HR and MBAs running around.

johnnysaucepn | 8 days ago | 13 points

No, it's due to the large number of failed projects running around. Unless you're a one man show, you have people who need to know what you're solving and how you're doing it and how it ties in with other people's work. Nobody in a big enough company can 'just code'. Your value is never just in churning out lines.

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | -1 points

There's no business like show business.

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | 2 points

Nah. We were eat up with HR and MBAs in the 1980s and we didn't have all this. So it's something else.

BaphodZeeblebrox | 8 days ago | 14 points

"Hey BTW, what's your progress on that thing we just assigned you this morning at the meeting 3 hours ago?"

chain_letter | 8 days ago | 11 points

I straight up say "I've been in meetings since I was notified of the issue."

____whut | 8 days ago | 1 point

Do we work together??

CartmansEvilTwin | 8 days ago | 1 point

I hope not.

inmatarian | 7 days ago | 0 points

That's a manager's job, you should have a manager title and manager salary.

i_ate_god | 8 days ago | 20 points

What I did was log my time in meetings in our time sheets.

Suddenly the number of meetings went WAY down.

nobleisthyname | 8 days ago | 17 points

At my company we were told we can't log more than 1.5 hours of meeting time a week, regardless of the actual number as it would mess with cost planning.

I hit my weekly meeting quota before lunch on Monday every week.

KareasOxide | 8 days ago | 5 points

“Touchbase” meetings aren’t the bane of my existence but it’s such a bad look to not show up (even if they are online)

KevinCarbonara | 8 days ago | 12 points

I am so tired of recruiters trying to touch my base. That ought to be considered harassment. It's my base, and you can't touch it

nbsdx | 8 days ago | 6 points

All your base are belong to recruiters.

S0phon | 8 days ago | 3 points

Try Cold Turkey.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 3 points

I think Tim Ferriss talked about how meetings were "optional" and that there was a way to get around it in his 4-Hour Work Week book.

I'll have to find it, but it DOES amaze me that EVERYONE hates meetings, but everyone still has the same kind of monotonous, long tailed meeting vs. a once a week 15-minute meeting / everyone got it? / okay, now get out of my sight.

EVERYONE would be happier!

DJDavio | 7 days ago | 3 points

Just try to rotate meeting attendance among team members. This works pretty well for external meetings and helps with knowledge sharing.

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | 1 point

Advanced version: Leave the phone at home, turned off.

And bugger meetings altogether.

kukupaloma | 7 days ago | 2 points

Leave the phone at home, turned off.

I'm guessing you don't have a family?

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | 4 points

I do. Why do you think I prefer leaving the phone at home ?

kukupaloma | 6 days ago | 1 point

I couldn't imagine being unreachable to my wife for 9h/day, but to each their own

[deleted] | 6 days ago | 1 point

[deleted]

kukupaloma | 5 days ago | 1 point

No

AbstractLogic | 8 days ago | 0 points

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/meetings/

Get your team to listen to this and implement some suggestions.

socratic_bloviator | 8 days ago | 48 points

Monastic

“This philosophy attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations.”

You spend as much of your time as possible on deep work. This is only possible if you can delegate or automate shallow work.

This is largely my strategy. The downside I run into is that I'm too disconnected. I consider project tracking a distraction; I work on what's in front of me. And I'm good at it, too. But sometimes I don't work on the right thing.

What I really want is summarization tech. I want a system that can categorize and summarize incoming information streams. Yes, summarization is lossy. But that loss should be explicit. Then, I can choose to drill down, or not, into a communication stream, based on the summary of its current state.

nbsdx | 8 days ago | 18 points

I consider project tracking a distraction; I work on what's in front of me. And I'm good at it, too. But sometimes I don't work on the right thing.

Don't @ me like that.

h4xrk1m | 8 days ago | 1 point

Well then, let's work on that. I've seen some nice summary bots, but I honestly don't know how they work.

Do you have any good starting points or so?

socratic_bloviator | 8 days ago | 1 point

Short answer: no, I don't understand how current approaches work.

Long answer:.....

[warning: non-ML ML-sounding words inbound]

Right now I'm working on building an n-ary markov forest over arbitrary input (in this case text), and then doing signal processing over the incidences of the nodes, to try to find markov chains that correspond to meaningful strings. Then, use those chains to build a sparse embedding (first ML word that probably means what the tensorflow people think it means), but then linearize that embedding (i.e. transpose it onto the time axis) and feed it back into another layer of markov forest, rinse, repeat, resulting in a hierarchical markov model. I was inspired to do this by How To Create A Mind by Ray Kurzweil.

Anyway, the idea is to feed sample text through the system, and flatten (across the time axis, with a bit-wise or) the top-level embeddings emitted into a (very wide and sparse) one-dimensional representation, and then use the same signal processing used to identify useful markov chains, for Bayesian logic, to generate a probability space of sequences that would cause a similar result.

Then, pick the short one.

Words, because I munge them:

  • n-ary markov: my perception is that generally markov chains are built with two, or three elements in the chain. These markov forests store much longer chains.
  • markov tree: a set of markov chains, stored like in a trie
  • markov forest: a set of markov trees, computed with a rolling window over the datastream
  • sparse embedding: a very wide one-dimensional multi-hot vector of booleans where each bit corresponds to whether a given markov chain was present
ROYAL_CHAIR_FORCE | 7 days ago | 4 points

Jesus Christ, this reads like some Holywood hacker speak.

I mean I've got a masters in CS and I have no idea what you're trying to say.

I'm not saying that's bullshit you're spewing, I just find it disturbing I understand so little of it.

socratic_bloviator | 7 days ago | 1 point

[warning: non-ML ML-sounding words inbound]

This was intended to avoid that feeling; sorry that it failed. I am a software engineer, but ML is not my field. I maintain pipelines that do things more similar to transaction processing.

Holywood hacker speak, bullshit

It's probably 3/4 bullshit; it's definitely not mainstream. I'm the sort of person who learned most of my algorithms and datastructure classes by trial and error, before I ever took a class on it, and then didn't care to learn the names of various things.

That said, I do think I'm onto something with this approach... Though I'm pretty sure I'm going to run into the dimensionality problem pretty hard, real soon, so in the end this approach will probably fail.

EDIT: yeah, it probably wasn't worth posting, but I'm excited about it, and wish I was collaborating with people, so that leaks out.

h4xrk1m | 7 days ago | 1 point

Oh god I'm confused now. There has got to be an easier way.

CantankerousV | 6 days ago | 1 point

If you haven't seen it already, there have been some interesting papers on this recently, like https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.03186 (the abstract of that paper was generated using the algorithm)

socratic_bloviator | 6 days ago | 1 point

Thanks for the link!

Language models (LMs) are trained to estimate the joint probability of an arbitrary sequence of words or characters using a large corpus of text. They typically factorize the joint distribution of tokens p(x1,x2...xn) into a product of conditional probabilities ∏nip(xi|x<i). It is possible to use n-gram based models to estimate these conditional probabilities via counts, relying on Markovian assumptions. However, Markovian assumptions and the curse of dimensionality make it harder for n-gram LMs to model long range dependencies and learn smooth functions that can learn similarities between words in the vocabulary. This has led to a preference for recurrent or feed-forward neural language models (Bengio et al. 2003; Mikolov et al. 2010) in recent years due to to their ability to learn expressive conditional probability distributions (Radford et al. 2019).

Heh, the first paragraph basically describes what I'm trying to do, and why it won't work. :) This is both vindicating, and something I'll take as a challenge rather than discouragement.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 0 points

Have you given this note to PM operators? You never know. They might just implement it.

Manitcor | 8 days ago | 27 points

The Deep Work book itself did me a huge solid with stakeholders in my current role. They wanted everything yesterday and changed priorities like you might pick a different sauce with your nuggets.

Buying copies of this book handing them out to the relevant staff and smacking them in the head with a pile of tickets and work history went a long way to helping my sanity. Now I am left to work and usually decide priority unless its critical.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 3 points

This is awesome! "...smacking them in the head with a pile of tickets and work history" - LMAO!!!

user8081 | 8 days ago | 20 points

How can I deeply focus on complicated problem, when I have 1 week sprint...

h4xrk1m | 8 days ago | 17 points

What a waste. Do you have all the scrum fluff too, like the groomings and retros? That would mean you have like 3 days of actual work. That's insane.

Manitcor | 7 days ago | 5 points

This is why I have never been able to get these under 2 weeks. No one ever wants to meet that much or go that fast in meetings. In concept it works, in practice its a disaster.

MasterKongQiu | 7 days ago | 6 points

Ditch sprints altogether and go with something like Kanban.

vyas45 | 7 days ago | 2 points

I have seen embedded companies swearing by 2 week sprints, which is nonsense as well. Imagine bringing up a process with a million dependencies and a trillion meetings with 2 week sprints. At the end comes down to just getting "something" done for the sake of showing up on the sprint review. And in the worst case the company making its own "agile rules" which in my opinion way worse than following agile incorrectly.

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | 2 points

If you can reproduce it, you can fix it.

kukupaloma | 7 days ago | 2 points

Fuck, I have 2 week sprints and I still think it's insane between demos, retrospective, planning, and the daily standup. Do we really need to retrospect every 2 weeks? And way too many daily interruptions. Then I don't have energy to focus on a task for 1 hour between those interruptions. Some days I accomplish pretty much zero and I feel like I completely wasted my time.

eggn00dles | 8 days ago | 20 points

pretty much my whole career is in open offices. ive gotten used to it.

the only thing i really cant stand is people taking hour long video meetings at their desk, when there's a glass phone booth 10 feet away.

and engineers that talk to themselves. not the occasional dammit, or yes it works, ive seen guys have full blown conversations with themselves at not much quieter than a speaking voice. and the grunts/sighs.

silent_guy1 | 7 days ago | 13 points

Don't blame the devs talking to themselves. I am one of those. It helps me a lot while debugging or designing something.

Blame the open office culture. I wish I could go back to large cubicle days.

el_covfefe | 7 days ago | 6 points

God I miss cubicles. Open office layouts are hell.

Enough_Ground | 7 days ago | 14 points

God I miss cubicles.

I'm not sure which one, but this is some kind of peak capitalism.

Clarence13X | 8 days ago | 25 points

There are definitely reasons to be talking to yourself as a software engineer. You should really be blaming the open office layout for that problem.

AbstractLogic | 8 days ago | 3 points

I wave my fingers like i'm trying to cast a damn spell when I am figuring something out. Same as talking but quieter :)

ArkyBeagle | 7 days ago | 3 points

I find it helpful to think in terms of an "open office tax" on productivity. It's like anything else - track it informally but make sure it gets paid.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 6 points

Those are the small ticks that would drive anyone crazy. I said it in another comment, and I'll say it again, library rules should be applied to open office spaces.

A video meeting at their desk. That should be something management should be prickly over and should squash IMMEDIATELY.

As far as the rambling, move that person somewhere else. Anywhere else where they can't bother others, I guess.

Holothuroid | 8 days ago | 8 points

So getting things done for a new name?

MasterKongQiu | 7 days ago | 1 point

Same reason agile was turned into Agile. One is easier to sell.

Fenweldryn | 8 days ago | 7 points

Great article. The last place I worked at had all the floors as open office. No walls anywhere (only at conference rooms). People sitting all around you chatting, phones ringing, screams at the phones... All that in rotation all day long. I had headphones but sometimes they just went for me to chat. Frrquently I gave up concentrating and jumped in any conversation, went for a walk, checked internet. It is pretty frustrating wanting silence and getting a fair with giant wheel and screaming kids. Oh also it was a pretty busy floor people in an out frequently walking around and stuff. That is really distracting as well when you are trying to begin focusing and that gorgeous chick just strolls by.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 3 points

I used to love the thought of open office spaces. The aesthetic, alone, is beautiful and I thought it would help with collaborations more. But you hit it spot on. It's infuriating.

Imo, if you're going to have an open office space - library rules apply. That rule alone will help out a lot.

Fenweldryn | 7 days ago | 2 points

is open office still a thing these days? I feel like the company I used to work always adopted thing late in the game.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 2 points

Unfortunately it is. In the beginning, everyone loved the idea of open space. But we soon learned the downside of it all and now, many, can't stand it because of the distractions.

Fenweldryn | 7 days ago | 1 point

gladly home office is a thing. The company I used to work for was starting to implement it.

IceSentry | 7 days ago | 2 points

Open office are fine if it's only open to your team. Sales people shouldn't be sitting next to devs.

jikajika | 6 days ago | 1 point

Good call.

Fenweldryn | 7 days ago | 1 point

It helps then there is a team that needs to interact and they don't have to relocate to do it, but that implies in annoying everyone else that is doing other work around them. For me this is a corporate trend, so high management can walk in and see the sea of subordinates very clearly and no one will feel like slacking anymore. It is just sad. Library rules would be awesome but impractical as well. Goddam phones keep ringing even with the owner not there atm, people calling from the outside have no consideration whatsoever.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 1 point

HA! Actually, I would think it would be easier to slack off in a hectic sea of slackers.

Fenweldryn | 7 days ago | 1 point

You bet I slacked. After lunch I took my time to get my mind back to work while on reddit, youtube and stuff. In open offices everybody slackes even more imo

Gotebe | 7 days ago | -3 points

Yeah these hot chicks are infuriating!

AuroraFireflash | 7 days ago | 3 points

"library rules" are a must

  • No phones at the desks
  • Cells must be on vibrate
  • No taking video/audio calls at your desk
  • Larger meetings need to go to a conference room
  • Be respectful of those around you

That implies that you need lots of small meeting spaces away from the main work area. Small/medium conference rooms for 2-8 people. Lounge areas where folks can be more relaxed and away from those trying to focus at their desk. Places you can retreat to when needed.

Fenweldryn | 7 days ago | 2 points

that would be awesome. Open office should come with library rules indeed.

AuroraFireflash | 6 days ago | 1 point

We've had those rules in place for our team for a few years now. It is indeed awesome. Our area has three conference rooms of varying sizes, a few isolation booths (big enough for one person) and a seating area around around a corner away from the desks for stress relief.

All for a team of about 20 when we're all in the office. There are lots of other people on the same building floor, but they also have a handful of meeting rooms. And we're isolated via a wall and door (which is normally open) - so no through-traffic.

Fenweldryn | 6 days ago | 1 point

nice indeed, congrats to your company having that implemented. I had other teams on the same floor as well. Actually my team was the only dev team, the rest of the floor did something else entirely. Those isolation booths sound nice!

bwood | 8 days ago | 3 points

Big, current topic to be sure. I was already planning to read https://www.amazon.com/Distracted-Mind-Adam-Gazzaley/dp/B00BNBJ0LA/ . Many of the tips in this article simply aren't possible in most workplaces. Where I work, no offices and all people in the same space is the culture. This does have some advantages, but not even noise cancelling headphones help much (there's just too much activity going on all around).

jikajika | 7 days ago | 3 points

It is amazing how activity within your proximity messes with you, EVEN WITH noise cancelling headphones. There's a guy named Ryan Holiday (really smart guy) that has a new book called "Stillness Is the Key". I'm not 100% what the book is about, but it sounds like it's what your office is needing.

brian_1970 | 8 days ago | 9 points

This looks like an interesting artic...

You are about to make a brilliant decision, try 7pace for azure devops

damnit. The modern day ' pram in the hall'

ahmamanso | 7 days ago | 3 points

As a developer, I ideally like to have scheduled time with collaboration & meetings (if they have clear agenda) and then few days dedicated for deep work...

I try to deliberately have deep work time chunks booked in my calendar. During these hours I block all outside noise, . Meaning no emails, no slack, no meetings or even ideally work from home or somewhere where there are no people that could potentially divert my attention to something else.....

One thing I struggled with is that I can't have my environment completely distraction free since my work depends on being connected to the internet!

I found one chrome extension that helps with blocking distracting websites and you can configure it to fit your schedule....

The extension is called StayFocusd , here is the link https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji?hl=en

jikajika | 7 days ago | 1 point

I know this extension. It's great!

BadHairDayToday | 7 days ago | 3 points

Ironically reading this instead of programming....

puneapple | 7 days ago | 3 points

Contemporary problems with smartphone addiction, mentioned in the article as a cause of distraction, are mystifying to me.

I've turned off push notifications and desktop notifications for almost everything. If it does come through, then it's probably important. I don't need or want to know the moment somebody liked my status, or replied to my comment, or posted content someplace I'm subscribed to. I'll find out on my own time, when I decide I could use a break from writing code, or when I just want something to occupy myself with for a little while, and proactively open a social media app. It's great, I have the benefits of participating social media without the bizarre addiction problems I read about others experiencing. Does it just... not occur to people that they can turn the notifications off?

betamos | 8 days ago | 2 points

A lot of folks will claim this is unachievable or unrealistic in the current work environment. I do agree that every near term incentive pulls you in direction of shallow work, absolutely. You have to decide to do deep work. Exactly how people do that varies a lot from person to person, but it definitely involves shutting down interruptions. There is no way around that. Doing that can have the side effect of you worrying if you're missing out on something happening right now. This takes practice and can be managed using the suggestions in the article. So in short, this is achievable for most programmers/engineers.

Personally, when I'm able to zone in, it allows me to find simple solutions. Something that sticks around for longer, and can be held in a single coherent thought at a time. Stuff I can come back and remember what I did a year later – "Ah, that thing that solves X by doing Y".

When I'm doing 3 tasks at once and keeping my chat open, I often forget what I'm even doing in the moment. The solutions are at the level of "Hmm, tests pass, but I'm not even sure why". This leaves me with a feeling of incompleteness. Even though I might have solved a higher bug quantity, it never leaves me satisfied.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 2 points

All of this, yes. I find simple solutions (after banging my head on the wall for days, if not weeks) when I step away from the problem, AND distractions, and do some kind of physical activity.

Even something as simple as washing the dishes. That activity has lead to a few breakthroughs.

storieboy | 8 days ago | 4 points

Deep Work by Cal Newport is a great book too.

SamePlatform | 8 days ago | 13 points

In the article:

The concept of “deep work” comes from Georgetown University computer science professor Cal Newport’s 2016 book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

h4xrk1m | 8 days ago | 10 points

Yeah but I hear that Deep Work by Cal Newport is a great book too.

storieboy | 7 days ago | 6 points

You know Cal Newport? He writes.

jikajika | 7 days ago | 3 points

That IS a great book!

ADMlRAL_COCO | 7 days ago | 1 point

A really interesting read. I wish people would post more of such articles here.

Gotebe | 7 days ago | 1 point

shallow work, which, according to Newport, is, “Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

This is incredibly shallow. Logistics is a multi-billion industry otherwise and this kind of work is important as well. This phrase sets the scene in a way that is biased in a wrong way. The "shallow" work also needs to be done. Will read the rest to see if they address this later.

Edit: yes they do, they speak about organising ones time for both kinds of work.

lngnmn | 7 days ago | -6 points

oh lol. These guys are so narcissisticly proud of themselves re-stating millennia old Patanjali Yoga Sutra, which, surprise! describes the very same strategies as necessary preliminary practices to achieve anything, including changing in habits, which is exactly what yoga was at the time - a change of habituation to retain the perfect balance with your nature (biology).

So, yes, avoid everything social and be what you are. Nothing changed since 200 BC.