The Lock Down Log: Debugging Me and My Code

Being stressed out

Over the past week, locked down at home, I’ve gotten to observe myself. I noticed that I was always rushing through my work and never seemed to have enough time. I manage to complete my tasks but I was rushing through it. This pattern was true across – professional work, while learning Python, blogging, or even read the new. This pattern had two major effects – one, the quality of my work suffered, if I’d given myself more time to do my tasks I could’ve come with better analysis or improved my learning outcomes or deeper thoughts; two, the act of constantly rushing caused mental stress which led to a feeling of a burn out.

When I thought through this, I realized I was not giving enough time for my high priority tasks. Instead, I was expending valuable time on non value adding activities like frequently thumbing through social media, idling or feeling unmotivated or battling self-doubt. Here’s the remedy: In the coming week, I’m going to deliberately give myself more time for my priority tasks. I’m also going to ensure that I put in consistent focus throughout the allocated time.

I’m reminded of a gym analogy. The principles for work-out effectiveness seem to apply to mental tasks too. It was one of the work-out guide videos on YouTube. The trainer advised that for maximum work-out effectiveness, each ‘rep‘ be long and consistent rather than rushing through it. He also elaborated on the underlying logic. The effectiveness of a single ‘rep’ is a not only a function of ‘effort‘ but also of ‘time‘. When we rush through a rep, though the effort exerted at a single point in time is higher the time elapsed shortens, pulling down the effectiveness. I find this very similar to me rushing through mental tasks, the ensuing mental stress and the lesser work quality.

I’ve spent the major productive part my day punching, modifying, deleting and re-punching codes. I completed the first module on my Python course and I took up a tiny personal project to keep my interest going. What’s more interesting that movies! I found a reliable Netflix data set on Kaggle. Even for a simply analysis, I typed long-winded codes where I’m sure fewer lines could’ve sufficed. My code wouldn’t work as expected until debugged it ten times or more. On more than an occasion, I doubted if it was all really worth it – the basic analysis I was doing now could be done in an Excel, with much less effort. But I tried to reason. This was just the beginning. I was trying to build familiarity with a coding language, and as I improve my skills I’d be able to perform more complex tasks. In addition, the dopamine rush I experience every time I get a code to work makes it worthwhile.

I’ve noticed, in general, that often times my mind sets me up for failure. It works on a logic from an absurd premise. A point in case here is that I expected grand results from something I’ve been learning for only seven days. When I don’t see those results I get disheartened and give up on the project entirely. I have let this absurd thought process ruin more than a fair share of my projects. Well, not this time.

I’ve been working to the music of Ludovico Einaudi.

Good night!