So bored and so easily distracted.



  • Lately, I have this growing problem where I'm so easily distracted and so uninterested that I hit efficiency of as low as 50%. It's not often that it gets that low, but it does happen. On these days, I work longer hours to make up for time lost so that I feel accomplished.

    However, even when I try to focus on tasks, they are often shallow or short that task switching and constant communication issues keep me from hitting any higher than 80% efficiency.

    I must have some kind of attention deficit, I tell myself.

    Any advice on keeping focused?


  • mod

    Have you tried pomodoro? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique I don't care for it myself, but my husband says it really helps him when his work is boring and his brain keeps wanting to distract itself with something more interesting.



  • I'll look into it.

    It doesn't help that right now I'm just waiting on my next task to be assigned.

    I keep getting positive feedback from my employer and supervisors, so it's hard to understand why I feel this way.

    Maybe I'm overanticipating how much work can actually be performing in a cooperative environment?



  • @xaade said:

    Maybe I'm overanticipating how much work can actually be performing in a cooperative environment?

    Maybe.

    I've had some demotivated not-giving-a-fuck days recently. There was a day last week I did like 30 minutes actual work max.



  • Do you define efficiency as lines of code written per minute or something stupid like that? Or is it task time vs. fun time? Either way, it doesn't matter as long as you get things done by the time people want them done, giving consideration to the time people down the line from you will need to expand on your work.



  • I can't help wondering whether I'm just really manipulative in the sense that I'm good at looking good (in the right environment).

    I think it's because there are a couple of people in my vicinity that definitely work too much. But that's veteran military for you.

    Once you have a kid, 12 hour days are out.



  • I work in a noisy open plan office and have been listening to this for a couple of weeks now. It's helped me to concentrate / ignore background noise.

    SOLAR SYMPHONY | Powerful White Noise For Creativity, Studying, Concentration & Focus – 10:00:01
    — Relaxing White Noise



  • I've always been a "worker smarter, not harder" kind of guy. Usually I get kudos at work not because I work long hours, but because I came up with a better solution which saved the company tons of time and/or money.

    EDIT: sometimes you can save thousands of dollars a month with an hour of work, for example, if you identify an opportunity. You can "coast" on that for some time. I've done that in the past, by moving from a very expensive hosting solution to a relatively-cheap cloud service. I've also saved an expensive client who was at risk by spending 2 days writing a threaded data importer to take over from a less experienced developer's non-threaded code, for example.

    I'm also very very bad at "getting in the zone", which I usually blame to open office layouts, but since I've basically spend my entire career in open office layouts, I don't really have a baseline and maybe that's just an excuse. But oh well.

    If your employer thinks you're valuable, you are. That's really what it comes down to.



  • @IngenieurLogiciel said:

    Or is it task time vs. fun time

    There are definitely days I get 4 hours of work done.
    Sometimes it's just because that's the work I have to do, mostly because in a cooperative workplace, the concurrent session limit is hit.

    There are some tasks I'm just not good at. And it gets so bad that I have to change environments just to think clearly.

    Then there are days where I just can't get motivated period.

    I'm beginning to think I'm a work from home type, so I can have an office space.

    Having all these people talk around me doesn't help.

    I don't think I'm lazy, because there's definitely times where I hit over 100% capacity.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    If your employer thinks you're valuable, you are. That's really what it comes down to.

    This.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I don't really have a baseline and maybe that's just an excuse. But oh well.

    My greatest efficiency is an office, with a forum open on the side, like this one.

    Micro distractions help me improve my focus, but it's a fine line between letting myself swap for more focus, and dismissing work for too long of a period entirely.


  • mod

    My work tends to have a distinctive rhythm of super-busy days vs super-empty days. Sometimes I'll have a whole week where there's jack-all to do; it's super hard to focus when you know you're just poking at make-work waiting for an actual prioritized task to come in. Best thing I can do is usually to give myself permission to have an off day and see what I can get done anyway, rather than berating myself over not being able to focus. The more you fret about not being able to focus, the worse it gets.



  • @xaade said:

    Lately, I have this growing problem where I'm so easily distracted and so uninterested that I hit efficiency of as low as 50%

    50% is my high.

    Sigh.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    The more you fret

    Anxiety disorder doesn't help.

    @blakeyrat said:

    If your employer thinks you're valuable, you are.

    Last work place I worked on an agile team and hit a bad week where the estimates just weren't fair (I hit a week where I got 6 points of work done, when 2 week goal was 100, and my last performance was 2 week 60). I had left early on a Friday a month prior because that Wednesday I stayed 12 hours to get caught up. By this time, it was clear I hadn't lived that down. When the pressure came down to explain my performance, I said "F this" and left for a different job.

    Ever since then, I've been real hard on myself and constantly wonder if I have bad work ethics.

    Now I'm working for an employer that's satisfied, and I've literally changed NOTHING.

    :WTF:?


  • mod

    Yeah, sounds like you're in a lot of the same boat I am: learning to give yourself a break is the single most valuable thing someone like me can do. I'm always holding myself to impossible standards and freaking out about not meeting them. Look around: very few people hold themselves to those kinds of standards. Peek when nobody's looking and everyone has their favorite "god, just get me through today" distraction for when they're having an off day. I spend time here, my coworkers watch sports livestreams or LPs on their second monitor while they've got work on the main one. Nobody's "on" all the time.



  • @xaade said:

    Micro distractions help me improve my focus, but it's a fine line between letting myself swap for more focus, and dismissing work for too long of a period entirely.

    My current problem is the project I'm working on has long build times. Not long as in "can go grab a coffee", but long as in "don't want to stare at the screen for 25 seconds, so let's see what's grooving in my RSS reader". The latter is much more dangerous to productivity, because you can never just look at your RSS reader for 25 seconds.



  • Try 30 minute build times, and a process that takes 10-30 minutes just to restart and get up running.

    So, if there's a reason to restart the service so I can see if the startup scripts are working, that's another 30 mins.

    Loading in data, can take hours.

    I just shortened an sql query from 10 minutes to 1 minute. And I can't find a way to make it shorter because 1.5 million records.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I'm writing software for Windows Mobile handheld clients, which means slow VS2008 build times and deploying to the handheld. Just enough time to see what's on WTDWTF, then realise it's 10 minutes later



  • @xaade said:

    Last work place I worked on an agile team and hit a bad week where the estimates just weren't fair (I hit a week where I got 6 points of work done, when 2 week goal was 100, and my last performance was 2 week 60).

    I'm not Mr. Super Agile Expert, but shouldn't you have "spiked" that task once it became obvious it was far more complicated than it seemed at first?

    @xaade said:

    I had left early on a Friday a month prior because that Wednesday I stayed 12 hours to get caught up.

    I had a manager once give me a nasty "this isn't a 9 to 5 job!" lecture literally the day after I'd stay up until midnight working from home to finish-up a project.

    I talked to upper management and got myself and the other engineer on the project put under a different manager, even though the org chart didn't really make sense. About 3-4 months later, that manager was "gently encouraged" to take a non-management position.

    Her attitude was completely contrary to the company's established culture and policies. It happens sometimes.

    @xaade said:

    When the pressure came down to explain my performance, I said "F this" and left for a different job.

    Good for you, but I hope you tried the non-quit options first.

    @xaade said:

    Ever since then, I've been real hard on myself and constantly wonder if I have bad work ethics.

    We work in an industry where lazy is good. Industrious people set up shitty servers, write awful repetitive code, etc.

    Don't feel bad about being "lazy" if you're still beating the average when it comes to increasing company performance.

    @xaade said:

    Try 30 minute build times, and a process that takes 10-30 minutes just to restart and get up running.

    30 minutes is long enough to do some secondary task. 30 seconds is more dangerous.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    "spiked" that task

    I don't think that word is in their dictionary, because I went and told them it wasn't a 2, and felt more like a 20, and atlas shrugged.

    @blakeyrat said:

    "this isn't a 9 to 5 job!"

    These words should never every be spoken, ever, period.
    The expectation is that this IS a 9 to 5 job, with the exception that some days we will need more of your time, but we will compensate you for this (not with overtime, but with some kind of benevolence).

    On my next interview, this will be my first question, I will literally walk out on the interview. I'm salary, not hourly and that goes both ways.

    @blakeyrat said:

    I hope you tried the non-quit options first.

    I'm not the one to partake in non-physical-violent confrontation face to face. Tell me you're going to kill my wife or daughter and I won't wait to snap your neck, but I don't like getting into discussions with people about how they are treating me.

    @blakeyrat said:

    beating the average

    I don't know this information.

    I see my performance as mostly slow, but then I accomplish this one amazing thing that other people would have trouble doing, kudos comes down, and everyone's happy.


  • mod

    I have a good relationship with my team lead; when I was concerned about being perceived as taking too much time out of my day for doctors appointments, he reassured me that people understand and he'd let me know if it started looking bad. I trust him to tell me if I'm not making the kind of progress he expected, since he regularly lets me know I'm surpassing his expectations :)

    So basically, your team lead should have the comparative information, and if you have a good working relationship, should be able to let you know how you stack up. If you're not on a performance improvement plan, you're probably at least meeting expectations; businesses are usually keen to fix or remove their worst performers.



  • So basically I need to get over my fear of confrontation.

    Being afraid of that means I can't ask where I stand and if I need improvement, whether I'm making progress doing so.

    If I keep asking and I keep getting back positive messages, then this is just an irrational fear.

    That's a good place to start.

    Well, thanks everyone for being so understanding.

    I'll take everything to heart.


  • mod

    @xaade said:

    So basically I need to get over my fear of confrontation.

    Remember what I said about being hard on yourself :laughing:

    Yeah, ultimately, you're going to have to take some scary steps to build confidence, but trust me, it's worth it in the end. I was scared shitless when I took this job, but over time, pushing myself out of my comfort zone has resulted in the creation of a new, wider comfort zone. I still hate how I stammer and fumble my explanations, particularly when I'm tired or intimidated, and some days I can't make myself raise an objection when I know something's going wrong, but every day I'm a little bit better at what I do and a little more confident about how I'm doing. Take some time, take care of yourself, eat your favorite breakfast, then talk to your manager. Promise yourself if it goes badly you'll stay firmly in your comfort zone the rest of the day after and it'll seem less intimidating.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    pushing myself out of my comfort zone

    That's the theme of this job.

    This is my first job where I'm not a developer but a deliverer. That's a strange transition, because basically my job is to find out why something didn't work, but without the development tools like debugging and such, because I don't have the source code.

    I'm wanting to rout out my inadequacies on purpose. So I got into this shit knowing this would happen.


  • mod

    Totes kindred souls; I went from being a webdev (comfort zone) to being the primary QA person (waaay outside it), after only a brief stint as a junior QA person at another company to learn the ropes of QA.




  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I have a similar problem and I think that my main problem is lacking a team. I'm currently the only dev on the project. There's no one to push me, either through friendly competition that naturally arises anywhere, or by means of someone waiting for me to finish a part of the code so they can get on with work, My efficiency was at least 50% better when I had someone alongside me driving me to do more and do better.

    Being the only dev sucks.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Efficiency as low as 50 percent. God I wish I could get that much done. You know how many points I was responsible for last sprint? On our team, a normal dev is 80. I had 8.

    I actually accomplished about 2.

    Literally all of my time was spent having meetings, reacting to assorted political and technical bullshit, etc. Evidently my promised return to the world of actually developing software for a living is not going to happen.

    And they have 7 days to produce my fucking raise.



  • Jeesh, 4 hours of actual work tends to be my good day lately. I don't know if it's the code I'm working with, or the fact that I've just recently gone full-time and am totally unable to manage my time well enough to have the energy for the week, not to mention time to actually do anything else than work, Netflix, or crashing to sleep.

    The employee is satisfied, but I'm not sure if that's because I do OK, or they just don't realize they're giving me way generous estimates.



  • Tech lead? Architect?
    I feel you. My time now is spent listening to clients/developers complain about each other's work (the api sucks/the app sucks), meetings I'm dragged into so that our PM doesn't sell any bullshit, keeping documentation up-to-date because devs won't do this shit in an agile environment and debugging crazy ass problems in old forgotten projects which most of the time end up being a change in a remote API or bad data.

    Oh well, at least the pay is much better.



  • @Weng said:

    I wish I could get that much done

    @Weng said:

    And they have 7 days to produce my fucking raise.

    Sorry, couldn't help myself.



  • @Eldelshell said:

    documentation up-to-date because devs won't do this shit in an agile environment

    For some teams, documentation, testing, and meetings need to have estimates.



  • Yeah well, usually the code is documented, but other stuff not. For example, for each project I have to maintain the documentation with all the third party libraries we're using.



  • @xaade said:

    So basically I need to get over my fear of confrontation.

    Being afraid of that means I can't ask where I stand and if I need improvement, whether I'm making progress doing so.

    That conversation shouldn't be confrontational.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    That conversation shouldn't be confrontational.

    It shouldn't be, but maybe @xaade is worried that it might be which is an impediment to that conversation actually taking place?



  • Well it also might be interrupted by 47 dancing mongooses wearing top hats.

    You can't worry about "might".



  • @blakeyrat said:

    You can't worry about "might".

    People do, though. All you can do is force yourself to ignore the voices in your head and do the thing...


  • mod

    @Onyx said:

    I have a similar problem and I think that my main problem is lacking a team. I'm currently the only dev on the project. There's no one to push me, either through friendly competition that naturally arises anywhere, or by means of someone waiting for me to finish a part of the code so they can get on with work, My efficiency was at least 50% better when I had someone alongside me driving me to do more and do better.

    Being the only dev sucks.

    Agreed.

    Having team members helps productivity a lot.



  • I also find it helps to bounce things/ideas off other people.

    I sometimes have up weeks. I sometimes have down weeks. Long as I've got both, I'm not worried.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @PleegWat said:

    I also find it helps to bounce things/ideas off other people.

    This.

    Rubber duck debugging can only get you so far. Sometimes you need someone to smack you over the head. Avoids headdesks later.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Eldelshell said:

    Tech lead? Architect?
    I've been a tech lead basically since day 1.

    I'm an architect now.

    All the crap you mentioned plus dealing with an agilista consultant trying to tell me how to run the team better. I can't run it any better than I do without a fucking QA team, hardware on which to run an actual fucking test environment, software to back it up, and actual direction from the business on what to do with the fucking product. No, we don't need to work with the users to get their buy-in. Their entire job is to use what I build, and they're already so ecstatic that it's not what they had before that they are utterly incapable of constructive criticism. Seriously. I sat there for two fucking hours today with users trying to get them to spell out where the pain points in the UI workflows are. They were far too busy goggling over how much better it is than what they had before to be constructive without my leading them.

    The outcome of the meeting? The UI changes we're going to make are the ones I spitballed off the cuff when we first decided to polish the UI. Took me thirty seconds to spec it all out.

    And then it took two hours to get the users to ask me what the hard parts for them are.

    And then it took another hour for me to convince the UI developer that what I was telling him to do wasn't heresy. Yes. It's a redundant set of controls on a second screen. That's because there are two audiences who need those controls, and only one audience uses the screen they're on for anything else, so everyone else has to context switch in order to use them.

    Meanwhile, I know I have a major version release on August 1st. I have NO direction from the business as to what that major version is going to involve. Not even a vague idea. Or an order of magnitude. Last major release had a 12-month grade scope. We did it in 3 months because they dicked around that long before even telling us about it. Rumors I'm hearing, this one is going to be more on the magnitude of a Five Year Plan type scope. Due in August. With a start date in... Maybe July at this rate. If we're lucky.

    Seriously, it is NOT possible to run a non-dysfunctional agile development team without QA, and it is DOUBLE not possible to do it without any direction as to what you're going to build. An agile team with no QA and no direction is basically 'wisdom of the crowd' style opensource development. Everybody just makes shit up until it either collapses in on itself or direction is provided.

    No, we can't get buy-in from that other community of people over there. They are demonstrably stupid and their boss is insane.

    No, we can't get buy-in from sales, because they are not interested in our existence.

    No, we can't get buy-in from our own senior management because they do not understand what it is we do and are actively disinterested in understanding it.

    No, that's not a sad state of affairs because if you just wait 6 months we'll have been horsetraded to another VP.

    Okay, yes, it's a sad state of affairs, and I'm just jaded.

    FUCK WHERE IS MY GOD DAMNED RAISE I'M TOO TIRED AND DEPRESSED TO JOB HUNT.



  • Is it, by any chance, a large company you work for? Or, to quantify it, how many boss's boss's boss's does it take to get from you to the CEO?


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @xaade said:

    Lately, I have this growing problem where I'm so easily distracted and so uninterested that I hit efficiency of as low as 50%.

    Don't sweat it too much. The work that we do wears on the mind and spirit. Seriously, we all deserve a bit of FOT on occasion. No person in our line of work could ever maintain high levels of productivity on a regular basis. Human brains are not capable. Hell, I have my "Eureka!!" moments when I am laying in bed half asleep. If you get some of them during the day, you are doing better than I am. :smile:

    @xaade said:

    However, even when I try to focus on tasks, they are often shallow or short that task switching and constant communication issues keep me from hitting any higher than 80% efficiency.

    Seriously, you are being too hard on yourself. We all have that bit of nostalgia where we look on the past and think, "I used to write great code for X hours straight." No you didn't. Memories get foggy. In our later years we may "do less", but our minds are typically always busy solving problems. I bet you are not figuring that in to your efficiency ratings.

    @xaade said:

    I must have some kind of attention deficit, I tell myself.

    Maybe, maybe not. I am a random asshole looking at this from only the information you have provided. In my opinion, it seems like you are just being hard on yourself. There might be information you are leaving out that makes you look better or worse. Though, I have not seen anything that sets my "Spidey Sense" off yet.

    @xaade said:

    I keep getting positive feedback from my employer and supervisors, so it's hard to understand why I feel this way.

    If your supervisors are happy, that is all that matters really. If they were coming down on you, it would be another situation altogether. But, they are not. So keep on, keeping on.

    @xaade said:

    Once you have a kid, 12 hour days are out.

    First off, I empathize entirely. Second, I think you hit the nail on the head. But, don't think that time you spend with family is 100% time off. If you are like me, you are still processing work issues in the back of your mind. Try to keep that to a minimum. Enjoy the time with the kids. They grow up far too quickly, but your days of spending 12+ hours in front of a computer monitor are over, unless you want to be an absentee parent. Enjoy the time with the kid(s), be happy that your supervisors are happy, and learn to unwind those clock springs a few turns. Enjoy life and don't worry about work. Work to live, don't live to work. Your supervisors are happy, so the working to live seems pretty taken care of.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    It's a very large company. Fortune 250 globocorp, industry dominating thousand pound gorilla.

    However, my position in the org chart is very flat. Up until last month it was me, director, SVP, CIO, CEO. So short my "I need a new server" approval chain landed in front of the board. Now it's me, manager, director, VP, SVP, CIO, CEO.



  • @Weng said:

    It's a very large company. Fortune 250 globocorp, industry dominating thousand pound gorilla.

    Reading your post, I was mentally checking off 'big company issues' one by one:

    • Any budgetary or strategic decisions are made as a result of executive dick-measuring contests, rather than sober and rational reflection on what the business needs.
    • Different arms of the company may as well be at war with each other.
    • People who are stuck in the trenches enacting the dictates of management never have any actual input into how they might be able to do their jobs more effectively or more efficiently.
    • Arbitrary deadlines you can neither understand nor control, which may as well be being pulled out of a hat.

    I could probably go on (and on (and on...)...)...



  • Seriously, this:

    [Quote]I just shortened an sql query from 10 minutes to 1 minute.[/quote]

    Is a massive win.
    If it's run with any kind of regularity, that one thing is probably worth your salary in improved productivity of hardware and personnel.

    It doesn't matter whether you think anybody could do it, they didn't and you did.

    (PS: HTF do you quote on Android Chrome now? Seems to be completely impossible!)



  • @lightsoff said:

    (PS: HTF do you quote on Android Chrome now? Seems to be completely impossible!)

    I was going to double-check, but apparently Login is disabled while the site is in read only mode OK, and also apparently I'm not logged in on mobile (not that I logged out or anything...)

    Highlighting the text you want to quote then completely ignoring :fa_quote_right: quote reply and hitting the main :fa_reply: reply button usually works for me, if you aren't trying to make more than one quote at once...



  • Otherwise there's a 💬 on the wysiwyg toolbar that does that (oh, wait, are you in mobile view? I think maybe its not there in mobile?).


  • ♿

    @abarker said:

    Having team members helps productivity a lot.

    I get a lot of stupid but easy to fix bugs this way.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @tar said:

    Any budgetary or strategic decisions are made as a result of executive dick-measuring contests, rather than sober and rational reflection on what the business needs.
    Actually, there is sober and rational reflection. The problem is that it happens once a year. In July. For the next fiscal year starting in January. This is cut back continuously over the intervening months until the final budget is released. And my director is in the habit of assuming I've overestimated everything. This has led to my new manager and I deciding to double everything we ask for.

    My current manager (who was just promoted from coworker grade), however, recently discovered that there is an AUTOMATIC year over year increase for every department in the areas of salaries and IT expenditure if they fill out the two relevant forms. So all the idiot year-over-year "I need more server capacity" battles that I have fought have been completely redundant - because my previous bosses have had no idea whatsoever that those forms existed. As is the annual "We don't have money in the budget to pay you better." There's a pool of cash for unexpected mid-year expenses that is basically 'first come first served' which basically requires convincing someone on the C-level that you need the money. Some VP layers are extremely hostile to the idea of using that, however.

    @tar said:

    Different arms of the company may as well be at war with each other.

    Sales v. Everyone involved in delivery, Senior Management v. Everyone, Manufacturing Arm v. Every Other Manufacturing Arm. Senior management infighting is largely friendly horsetrading and gamesmanship. They're good 'ol boys (there ain't women. They lost a discrimination suit. There still ain't women. They did hire a minority director from outside the company, though.

    @tar said:

    People who are stuck in the trenches enacting the dictates of management never have any actual input into how they might be able to do their jobs more effectively or more efficiently.
    I used to have input. I actually had a legitimate conversation WITH IMMEDIATE BENEFICIAL RESULTS with my VP once. Of course, that was three or four horsetrades ago. Then we got moved to a VP who was bona-fide schizophrenic and would alternately beat you up and murder your career and love you to death. That broke my director and he stopped passing information (and after I threw him under the bus for such, he cut off all my direct communication opportunities).

    @tar said:

    Arbitrary deadlines you can neither understand nor control, which may as well be being pulled out of a hat.
    The deadlines aren't arbitrary. They're highly understandable. In fact, they come once a year like clockwork. They are the start of the sector-relevant 'peak season'. The start date on which information about deliverables for the deadlines are arbitrary and cannot be understood or controlled. They aren't pulled from a hat, but basically consist of 'when a winner is declared in the midlevel management posturing contest'.


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