In my so far small software development carrier, I have found place of work to have great influence on my focus, mood and hence productivity. The cubicle in title refers to the place of work, rooms or cabins. In this post I discus how I find a new room to pleasant to work in, and how the same room slowly become cancer for my productivity.
Recently I’ve started caring about productivity, focus and stuff. It was not something I’d care about earlier when coding/computers were a form of pure pleasure. But things change when money is involved, or may be when you’re obliged to do something. As bizarre as it may sound, all the excitement of programming start turning to anxiety/worry/stress as the deadline approaches closer and client start beating his drums.
I’ve noticed that when I first start working from a place, say my room, everything is beautiful. Hard problems are interesting, easy problems are giggly and focus is super intense. But this quality of energy start degrading with time. After a week, hard problems cause face palms, easy problems become chores, and I have to actively put in my energy to focus. After about two weeks, I start to procrastinate. I’d sit in front of my computer and stare at the screen. Then I give myself an excuse to open HN or reddit to “refresh” myself. Such refresh span to several hours before I know it.
I wonder if this happens with others as well or if I am the only one. Changing the place of work seems to boost up my energy/focus/productivity by magnitudes. It’s like the workplace has an energy of its own. When you first start working in say a room, you feed on the room’s energy. Room’s energy helps you to focus, it cheers you up, and after a 10 hour coding session, you are sleepy and tired, but still alive and blazing. Slowly you eat up all the room’s energy, now it’s your turn to fill the void. Now room starts eating you up.
After working in the same room for more than two weeks, I am fresh when I wake up; full of creative juices, thinking about how I gonna implement the clever solution I thought while my brain was in superhuman mode having lucid dreams early in morning, and then after few minutes I enter my work-room. Suddenly birds chirping is gone, it’s shunned silence all around. Darkness approaches and I am all caught up before I realize what’s going on. “Why do I have to work?” “I don’t need money” “That problem would be so hard to even think of” “May be I should try that new game I downloaded last night” “I won’t even open HN. HN people are so stupid. They make me think”. Then I’d open something like /r/funny and after wasting couple hours suddenly I realize “holy fucking crap, I haven’t got anything done today. I’ve just started my consulting carrier, I can’t do this shit, I gotta be serious”. At this point I’d actually shoot my Emacs, open the terminal and actually start doing some work. I’d do it for couple hours, more if I don’t bump into something. On the first problem I hit “I should rather sleep and ‘refresh’ myself”. And bang, another 4 hours are gone, it’s dinner time. After dinner “I shoudln’t work for whole day, let’s watch something stupid on youtube. Commentors on yt are so retarted, I feel like a king there.”
Such are all the days after 3-4 weeks working in same room. You restore your energy after 7-8 hours of sleep, but what about the room? How would it restore its energy? No, planting some plants there and watering them with redbull won’t work (or may be it will, I haven’t tried).
I’ve worked from many places. This has happened every time with no exceptions. First 1-2 weeks are the best. I cherish my coding life like when I first got a computer 4 years ago. It slowly starts degrading after that, and as I said, it finally reaches the point where my room is eating me up and I hardly get something done, if anything at all.
May be rooms eat up our energy. There need to be a equilibrium of energy between you and your work place. May be this is why so many people I’ve read prefer to work from coffeeshops / public places. If my stupid hypothesis has truth, public places should be overflowing with energy.