What I Learned This Week #1
By. Jahaziel Israel
So, it’s taken me 6 weeks to actually muster up the mental fortitude and the discipline to get into this new habit of blogging about my latest journey into the world of java programming -- mainly because I’ve been on this seemingly never-ending refinement of finding an optimal distraction free work-life balance in this post COVID world.
In all honesty, I prefer to have the option of co-working in public spaces where there are peripheral distractions ( you know, like pretentious hipster parents gently scolding their rambunctious sugar-filled toddlers over their overpriced iced lattes), asking other human beings to keep their eyes on my laptop while I run to the bodega to buy more reasonably priced food than the cafe, (I still can’t justify $15 for a slice of avocado toast?) - I find that when I’m in the solitude of my “cozy” studio apartment, that I find myself surrounded by a litany of distractions disguised as multi-tasking or busy work, which essentially means that I get nothing done.
After working on my last React and React Native collaborative project called Tsundoku, which is the Japanese word meaning “buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands”, I’ve lowkey become obsessed with Japanese philosophy, culture and literature, and have since completed the memoir and first 2 works of the iconic Japanese fiction author Haruki Murukami.
This led me to discover the Japanese mysterious concept of Ikigai, which translates roughly as “the happiness of always being busy”, and is the source that explains the extraordinary longevity of the Japanese, especially on the island of Okinawa. I’m currently reading “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Hector Garcia and Fransec Miralles” and here are some great gems that I’ve taken and applied to optimize my current dilemma of achieving flow while studying and learning programming remotely, during a global pandemic;
In Chapter IV: Find flow in everything you do “How to turn work and free time into spaces for growth”, there are some key principles discussed from researcher Owen Schaffer of DePaul University;
The Seven Conditions for Achieving Flow
- Knowing what to do
- Knowing how to do it
- Knowing how well you are doing
- Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved)
- Perceiving significant challenges
- Perceiving significant skills
- Being free from distractions
As I shared earlier, I have been experiencing self-imposed writers block for the past 6 weeks, and according to some of the strategies I’ve read about, had I just taken out a blank Google Doc and got the first few words going (like I’m currently doing), I would get over my mental block and achieve a pleasant flow, or ikigai.
Strategy 1: Reflect on what we hope to achieve before starting study/work
Before we begin each day, we should ask ourselves questions such as;
What is my objective for today’s session in the studio?
How many words am I going to write today for the article coming out next week?
What is my team’s mission?
How fast will I set the metronome tomorrow in order to play that sonata at an allegro tempo by the end of the week?
I’ve found that when I take the time to be intentional about how I’m going to spend my time during the day, that I get more sh*t done and I’m more productive -- and for me, this list has to be analog (handwritten in a planner… yeah I’m still old school like that!).
Strategy 2: Concentrate on a Single Task
Now, this has been one of the biggest challenges for me during the pandemic working remotely from home while public spaces and indoor dining in coffee shops and cafes is severely limited or non-existent. From watching Treehouse tutorials on 1.5x the speed while simultaneously streaming lo-fi music, and toggling through (VERY DENSE) Java documentation… to then Googling more simplified explanations or videos of the very dense Java documentation, and being distracted with mobile notifications, Amazon and Uber Eats deliveries and never-ending zoom calls >> lol.. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to keep up.
The authors write that “concentrating on one thing at a time may be the single most important factor in achieving flow.” Studies show that working on several things at once lowers our productivity by at least 60% and our IQ by more than 10 points. In order to focus on a single task we need:
To be in a distraction-free environment
To have control over what we are doing at every moment
Here are some tips that I’ve implemented in the book that have actually helped my significantly in being more focused on my learning during this “pandemonium”;
Don’t look at any kind of screen the first hour that I’m awake and the last hour before I go to sleep. I spend that time writing gratitude, journaling and reading.
Turn my phone on DND and mute all notifications before beginning work.
Time blocking tasks like checking emails, social media, calling friends, etc…
Pomodoro Technique has been helpful >> and watching YouTubers who make pomodoro study with me videos. (I’ll be creating some of these soon!)
Work in a space where you will not be distracted. For me, I can’t do this at home, so I have to go to a library or cafe and look for several weeks until I found the right place.
There is a whole litany of other more technical topics that I learned this week, including;
How to construct objects and create instances of Objects in Java
Managing state with getters and setters
Arrays > Array literals, multi-dimensional arrays and ArrayLists
Java Lists & Maps
Strings are actually objects
IntelliJ is becoming less scary the more I use it… lol
Whew… I finally got all that out!
✌🏾 ya next week.