Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to get into the "Zone" for software programmers

I do feel like taking my hats off sometimes to the programmers coding software from the uncomfort of a hall filled with cubicles. From my personal experience, its hard if not impossible to get into zone in any room with more than one person. Yes, one.

What is Zone?



Zone, aka, Flow is a mental stage where a person is most productive. In programmers its the state where they write productive codes unaware of the surrounding, yes music is playing but they dont hear the lyrics. The exact state where the Milk will burn in the kitchen and mother wont understand why can't you remember to turn it off.

Its difficult to get into the zone, can take 10 mins or just wont come that day, the trouble is, its too easy to get off the zone with a little disturbance.

How to get into zone?

1. Kill Distraction:

You see that Yellow smiley in your tray bar? Turn if off right there. Feeling urge to check your email every 15 seconds, turn that off too. Turn the voice mail on in your mobile. Close Facebook and Twitter. Let people who live or work with you, be aware of the situation. I seldom code from office due to this and am best in my study room. James has also built a room specially for creative working (go see www.retinax.com).


Timing is also critical, usually programmers are in habit of working late night. However for professional employees, they need to adjust themselves to the sunlight. But ending disturbance is critical. Respect "zone", and ask for respect for your "zone".

2. Music:

The best that helps is rock, and songs in foreign language. As you don't care about the lyrics. Yeah, the idea is not to get you sobbing tears, but to shake your head every time F5 works with no compilation error.

3. Caffeine:

For some Coffee works, for us (J&Z) coke works. I have tried lemonade and juice, doesn't work for me. Ice cold water also helps.

4. Tools:

Here too I have a dreadful habit, for long I can only work on TVS mechanical keyboard. It plays a thak sound with every press of key that coders will enjoy, got it added to the iMac too.


Anyway the point is, ensure you got the tools, hardware and software, that you are comfortable in to work with. An internet connection, and a fair enough screen size with sufficient RAM to compile fast. Wear what you are comfortable, seat how you are comfortable. Software cannot be made in Suits.

5. Push yourself a little:

The first few minutes is difficult, manage your playlist in iTunes, get your drink, seat at your desktop and fire the IDE. And just start.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000068.html
http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2006/07/10/a_nerd_in_a_cave.html

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