Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's a marathon, not a sprint

Alright, it has been a little over two weeks since I started pounding the pavement, and I quickly discovered that a kickass attitude is no match for burnout.

The first week was easy. Well, it was technically easy. It was hard to get out of bed, and get to Starbucks, but once I was there, and my brain was in gear, there was no stopping me. I may have been more tired than I was used to at the end of the day, but it wasn't that bad.

But after the first week, I started to notice that not only was I more physically tired, I was also mentally tired. Code I had written days before made no sense to me, which wouldn't be the first time, but probably the first time for code I had written so recently, and definitely the first time I could not grok after a few minutes. Frustrated with the confusing code I had written, I decided to just start work on a different segment of code. Except... Nothing was coming out. I just sat there, unable to put two thoughts together. I started just writing whatever came to mind so I could keep track of what I was doing, but I'd forget where I was after a few lines. Then I got really angry with myself for forgetting how to code, and surfed the net idly, stopping periodically to see if I remembered how to code. I didn't. Then I got mad at myself for wasting time, and opened my list of things to read, and started reading about some perl methods I wanted to try out. Except... That didn't make sense either... I was broken, frustrated, and angry. I went home.

The following week I started sleeping through my alarm. No matter how much I turned it up, I slept right through it. And when I woke up an hour or two late, still with time to work, I didn't want to go to Starbucks because I felt like it would be a waste of time and money. So I tried to work at least one hour at home. But I had the same problem. So I just wound up playing Fallout New Vegas. More metaphorical comfort food, but it didn't matter to me, because I knew i wouldn't be able to code.

When the weekend rolled around, I wanted to code, but something always got in the way. I played obscene amounts of Fallout, and honestly had fun doing it. But I still knew time was passing me by.

I overdid it on Sunday, and stayed up too early playing, and fucked up my morning. I still work up early, and actually woke to my alarm this time, but I knew I wouldn't be able to do anything but play Fallout. So I thought about it a bit, and decided to sleep in as much as I could because I was going to work Tuesday.

So two weeks after I declared war on sleep, I slept.

After about 10 hours of sleep, I woke up a new man. Feeling refreshed, and ready to work. I didn't though, because I didn't want to jinx it.

I went to a particularly vexing day of work, came home, unwound with some teevee with the wifey, and got to bed at a reasonable hour.

This morning, I was up on time, got ready for work early, headed into Starbucks, got 2.5 hours of serious coding done, and still had a half to write this post, and head in to work.

tl,dr; I need to start pacing myself. I don't think I've ever worked as mentally hard as I did that week, certainly not on that little amount of sleep. I just didn't think I could induce burnout in a little over a week. Honestly, I'm kind of impressed. But I'm not in it for the short game, and I certainly shouldn't expect to take off at a full sprint with no training. I'm going to try doing half-mornings of non-business stuff in between my business mornings, and generally figuring out the maximum I can do without going over that threshold.


DirtCrashr said...

How's it going after a week? Time is sometimes so fleeting, othertimes its elasticity seems to stretch on forever.

ErnestThing said...

Good question DC, I'm not sure this applies at the moment since I got laid off, and I can devote more time to the business. I'll follow up once I have a 9-5 again, and have to juggle my time again.