*Real* Programmer Productivity

My friend Adam, otherwise a really smart guy, has it all wrong. Read his post for an example of what not to do, then continue reading below to see how you really get productive.

Sleep? None of this setting your alarm crap. Sleep when you’re tired, then wake up, wipe the drool off your “V” and “C” keys, and start typing. I take my inspiration from the animal kingdom. You think bears set an alarm? Hell no. They stop hibernating when they’re hungry and some hiker walks into their cave. Sharks? They sleep until their nose bumps into some fat mackerel or boat, then they start chomping.

Sobriety? I’ll go out on a limb here and say that no significant advance in the history of computing was done without some sort of chemical-aided inspiration. The whole concept of recursion was developed by Alan Turing after eating a handful of sweet English mushrooms. Python was obviously developed by some dude high on quaaludes. Who hasn’t had their most creative thoughts after four or five gumdrop martinis?

Exercise? Sure, it sends oxygen-rich blood to your brain, but so does shotgunning a couple Red Bulls, and in a lot less time. Exercise makes you look good for the ladies, but so does photoshopping your MySpace profile pic. Plus, as Craig Newmark has found, text-only listings were designed specifically to make nerds look good. My own personal programmer-productivity workout circuit consists of four stations: Computer -> Refrigerator -> Toilet -> Bed. There are 4! permutations, more than enough for variety.

Eat All Day. I can’t really argue with this one, except for his choice of what to eat. A Bavarian Cream doughnut sounds good right about now.

Meditation? If you want to think about things and not do any actual work, you’re cut out to be an Architecture Astronaut, or perhaps a “thought leader”. Real programmers type. Nothing beats working out your ideas in code. Plus, if you’re a consultant, you can’t bill for “meditation” – how do you SVN COMMIT that? You can’t. If you really need to think, re-read that Lisp code you wrote last night at 3 AM.

So, in summary, avoid well-meaning but misguided attempts to put you on the straight and narrow path to personal productivity via unproven “theories” such as rest, exercise, abstinence, and temperance.


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