I started to read the book Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey. One part stood out to me yesterday: [… the brain] has a built-in “novelty bias.” Whenever we switch between tasks, it rewards us with dopamine […] Continually seeking novel stimuli makes us feel more productive — after all, we’re doing more in each moment. But again, just because we’re busier doesn’t mean we’re getting more accomplished. Having a smart-phone with enabled notifications is an especially delicious distraction.
Today I realized that using tools like the terminal, Vim or Tmux “spark joy” for me. The term comes from Marie Kondo’s bestselling book about tidying up. It loosely translates from original Japanese to ”the feeling of excitement and pleasure”. I thoroughly enjoy using Unix and its tools. For me, it’s like a mini game where I can always learn something new and feel more productive. For example, you can be productive with Vim after a few days.
It took me around 5 years to learn to code and to switch careers. Programming started out as a hobby for me when I was on parental leave. I enjoyed learning to code. I didn’t feel confident that I could get a job as a web developer. I had a decent-paying and secure job as a tax officer. One of the perks was being able to work part-time and to work from home, even before the pandemic.
This is a reminder for me to focus more. I easily get distracted by Twitter, Email or Discord. Cal Newport wrote a book about the topic: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. (Here’s a summary by Derek Sivers.) I’m notoriously bad at focusing. I sometimes wonder if that comes from having children. My daughters constantly interrupt me. That’s life. It is also the reason why I’m not a huge fan of “work from home”.
I am listening to The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef, a book that makes a case against motivated reasoning and argues for a more honest view on our thinking. Quote from chapter 3: We overestimate the importance of how we come across to other people, social costs […] feel a lot more significant than they actually are. In reality, other people aren’t thinking about you nearly as much as you intuitively think they are, and their opinions on you don’t have nearly as much impact on your life as it feels like they do.