Recently I started adding a new thing to my work day routine and it has turned out to be a great addition. I take one hour when I’m done with my coding/sitting at a computer work and I go into a different room, I sit in my favorite rocker and I read or sketch or do a bit of both for one hour.
For years I’ve had several dense non fiction books on my Amazon wish list that I wanted to read. Most of them are about the brain or psychology and how the mind works. My problem was getting myself into a place where I could read them with full concentration and digest what I was reading. It was completely my own fault that I wasn’t able to do this because I always made an excuse for something else I needed to do. But that ended when I went back to an article that the Wall Street Journal published about our state of busyness. Laura Vanderkam argues that we really aren’t as busy as we say we are, we just aren’t saying no or prioritizing the stuff we want to be doing. Well this past week I decided to change that and rearrange my priorities. It means I spend less time online and just falling down the rabbit hole of twitter or wikipedia. It means that I disconnect myself from everything for an hour each day to concentrate on a few things that I want to make a priority. I am using a small piece of technology to help me sort and think about what I want my priorities to be, a new app for my iPhone called Habit List. I’ve found it helpful to write down my priorities so I don’t get distracted away from them.
So far it has been really wonderful and I end my day with some quiet, peace and also some stimulation for my brain in a different way - something other than code. I also leave the hour and then move into cooking dinner, usually, and as I do the tasks that don’t take much concentration, I find myself thinking about what I read or getting an idea to take a sketch further. It doesn’t seem like much as I write it here, one hour a day, but in the way our culture pushes it can be a lot. So I am taking my hour and I believe that it will help me in my work in the long run. Not just in refreshing my mind but also in learning something that may not make me a better coder, but will definitely make me a better team member.