Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

    Project soundtracks - how I killed procrastination

    Are you procrastinating?

    I am a procrastinator.

    Everybody who's ever agreed to meet with me can confirm that I am always 5 minutes late. It's not because I'm mean or don't respect people's time, it's because I leave it to the last minute to pry myself away from work and start getting ready.

    The point is, I procrastinate everything. I'd start procrastinating five minutes later if I could.

    It's very bad.

    Cure, step 1 - pomodoro

    About a year ago I started using the Pomodoro techniqueto ward off procrastinating while I work. You know, the whole, finish ten lines of code, go online for two minutes, write a bit of code ...

    Italiano: Autore: Francesco Cirillo rilasciata...
    Italiano: Autore: Francesco Cirillo rilasciata...

    You might call it stupidity and bad work habits, but I was procrastinating The Next Step (tm).

    Pomodoro's 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of internet right-to-the-vein worked great. For a while at least, I've started slipping up a bit so sometimes it's 27 minutes of work or 7 minutes of internet. But that's okay, it keeps me generally inline.

    I noticed something far more interesting than a general improvement in work habits.

    For a while now I can no longer get any work done without a ticking pomodoro timer. The connection between that annoying tik-tak is so strong it's become impossible to focus on a single task when the noise isn't there.

    Sometimes work would be better without forced breaks - when writing for instance - but I just can't do it. Unless something is ticking I can't keep my grubby little paws off the twitter and facebook and hackernews and so on.

    With ticking, effortless. It seems whenever the ticking starts I feel an irresistible urge towork. To drop whatever internet buffoonery I'm up to, fire up a code editor and get cracking. As irresistible as hunger.

    As a result, I've started turning the timer on before I actually start working. Otherwise I would just procrastinate starting until the day was over, but the ticking gets me to stop within a minute or two.

    Brilliant.

    Cure, step 2 - project soundtracks

    About two months ago I decided to take the concept of training myself in a mad Pavlovian experiment even further.

    What if I could program myself not only to feel an irresistible urge to work, but an irresistible urge to work on a specific project?

    Spotify
    Spotify

    The idea of project soundtracks was born.

    I have four or five work playlists in Spotify. 8-bit music mixes has proven the best for coding, while The Electro Swing Revolution seems best for writing. Blogging happens without a soundtrack to a well tuned radio station.

    Amazing results! Seriously.

    The biggest benefit is that context switching between projects is now almost effortless. As soon as a certain playlist starts my mind immediately jumps to its project - ideas star popping up, context is becoming clear and I can remember specific details I've worked on days ago.

    More importantly, other projects and concerns fade into the background instead of jumping all over each other, begging for my attention.

    Has any one else tried this before, or noticed similar effects?

    EDIT: some playlists:

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on January 8th, 2013 in Uncategorized,

    Learned something new?
    Read more Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.

    Subscribe below 👇

    Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

    "Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

    ~ Ashish Kumar

    Join 15,883+ engineers learning lessons from my "raw and honest from the heart" emails.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
    4.5 stars average rating

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Want to brush up on modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️