Charles Pillsbury III

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Problems I have with a 9-5 (or 7-4 as the case may be)

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I broke out of my normal RSS mode this morning and let myself dip into my weekly feeds instead of just my daily ones** (this was because I’m still a bit sick and didn’t feel up to getting up an starting the day yet, but had already finished reviewing my daily feeds). I’m glad I did because I came across this great little piece by Chad Perrin on geek productivity.

Crazy-late hours of intensive hacking lend themselves naturally to entering, and sustaining, a deep state of “hack mode”:

* Other (saner) people aren’t around to interrupt. They’re all asleep. This provides additional safety when juggling eggs.
* The requirement of keeping from disturbing others inhibits the tendency to engage in distracting entertainments (like TV). This almost forces one to focus entirely on one’s work. Only something like reddit stands in the way.
* Subjectively speaking, it seems that the wee hours of the morning lend themselves to an almost surreal, abnormal perspective. Inspiration can be found in odd places under that sort of influence — which leads to new ideas coming to mind and being explored that, by the light of day, may have been dismissed immediately as “crazy talk”.

[From Chad Perrin: SOB » insomnia and productivity]

There is inherently a difficulty in concentration at the office when you know you might be interrupted at any moment. It just sucks up a certain amount of psychic energy. One of my co-workers complains about this on a semi-regular basis. To some degree it’s the nature of the best, but it’s also the nature of us beasts (programmers/Geeks/etc) to need some way of fire-walling ourselves so we can get into the zone. It’s the late night hours I miss for this, because even if it was writing instead of programming, the late night solitude let me get into that mode. I’ve tried to do it in the early morning hours but haven’t had as much luck yet.

This is one of those articles it’s good for loved ones to read so they have a little better understanding of how we (or at least our minds) work.

** I’ve arranged my RSS feeds into Daily, Weekly, and Monthly folders, as well as a News one that is also daily but I read it differently. I’ve seen this mentioned elsewhere as a high-priority feed vs low-priority feed methodology, where you tackle the things you know you want to read first. I did mine as daily weekly because I realize I have a problem once I get started that I may just descend into a rathole of RSS for a couple hours every morning/evening if I didn’t find a way to limit that.


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March 27th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

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2 Responses to 'Problems I have with a 9-5 (or 7-4 as the case may be)'

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  1. Hi, I’m Chad — the author of the piece you referenced here.

    Regarding your statement that “This is one of those articles it’s good for loved ones to read so they have a little better understanding of how we (or at least our minds) work,” I think the same can be said of Sterling Camden’s article “Six steps to productivity and getting tasks completed” at TechRepublic (in addition to being my friend and a fellow hacker, he’s a writing colleague of mine at TR):

    I linked to it from my essay “insomnia and productivity” with the words “geek productivity”, but it’s of course possible you didn’t get around to following the link. If so, I recommend you do so — when I first read that article, my first thought was that it’s exactly the sort of thing that girlfriends/boyfriends and wives/husbands should often get a chance to read, to better understand us and our habits.

    Thanks for reading “insomnia and productivity”, and for the kind words about it. I hope you’ll stick around SOB and read more in the future. Now that I know your weblog exists, I think I’ll poke around a bit and see what I find of interest.


    28 Mar 08 at 11:32 am

  2. Thanks for the reply Chad. I hadn’t read his article yet (I did today from work), I blame the anti-zone geek ADD that led me down a rat-hole of reading the last 20 posts on your blog instead of following any links out to other stories.

    Part of the point I didn’t make in my original post up there was that my problem with my 7-4 schedule right now is that I have to get up so early that I can’t stay up late and code/write/zone. If I can really find a way to transmit that mode of work into another time and place than my old “usual” of midnight to 2 AM in the recliner with my laptop THEN I’ll be golden.


    28 Mar 08 at 7:55 pm

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