What's wrong with me?



  • On job I'm working on a large multi-year project. At home, I have my own small hobby project. But lately, working on both feels like a chore.

    As in, I have to close all the fun browser windows and force myself to stay inside the dev environment and keep typing. I finish a tiny function or a piece of functionality, and I'm like "There! Now I deserve a few minutes on reddit or TDWTF". Every little thing draws my attention away, and I WELCOME IT. I'd rather deal with junior's inane questions and business emails than programming.

    So, have I just grown tired of programming?

    Apparently not, because give me even a hint of greenfield, or an interesting question on SO or a good article and I'm all over it. Not even noticing as hours slip away, not even thinking about twitter or reddit.

    So, have I just grew tired of the grind on my boring main project?

    Nope. It's the same with my hobby project. And there, I damn well picked the technologies I'm genuinely interested in. As in, I play around in a fiddle or a one-off TODO list thing, and I'm fascinated. But then I start plugging it into the real production code, and suddenly, it's like someone's holding a gun to my head.

    Anyone else experiencing this? What's wrong with me?


  • sockdevs

    It happens to everyone ;)


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Burnout. Happens to me as well from time to time.

    Currently in the same bucket, actually. Hence, many postings here.



  • You don't feel rewarded enough. Not enough sense of accomplishment. Everything feels like a drag, like a routine, like "now what?" stuff.

    According to Douglas Adams, Nowwhat is the most dull planet you'd ever set your foot on.

    You don't want to be there.



  • I was about to go back to work, but then I decided I should respond to your comments first.
    What's the harm, that's just a few minutes of my time?

    ... there.

    Sigh... maybe I should check my email again?



  • I've been struggling to become a productive person for years, so I know that feel bro. Sadly there are no easy answers but here's what I have:

    Being productive requires energy, motivation, concentration and time. Are you getting enough rest per day? A little known fact: while it might seem counterintuitive at first, planning what to do during your free time makes you enjoy it more.

    Sounds like your problem is with motivation, meaning you need to want to do that work, on a deeper level than just your rational "I need to finish that or I'll get fired". Try thinking about why you are working on that project in the first place, what your reward will be when you finish it, and also what your loss will be if you don't get it done.

    Also, check out the TMT. It's never benefited me personally but you might find it useful:

    And of course, willpower. Which, as a human, you will always be lacking on because we weren't designed to work. But remember, success is not about doing some herculean effort to get to work and then you're done, it's about constantly pushing yourself to work a little harder (until you reach your productivity peak of course, then you stop), every day, even if you've failed a thousand times.

    Also, be smart, don't just blindly follow any strategy. Every day stop and try to think for 5-10 minutes about how you really feel, what your (true) motivations are, what you could have done better.

    And if you have been completely stuck for a while, try changing some things in your life, even if you do it at random and it doesn't seem like it should work. Take a week of full vacation, that helped me once.

    Oh, I almost forgot: make sure you sleep well, eat well, and get some exercise. Mens sana in corpore sano, as they say.

    And remember there are subreddits about that: /r/getMotivated, /r/getDisciplined, /r/productivity, etc. where you might find some more specific advice if you need it.



  • @cartman82 said:

    As in, I have to close all the fun browser windows and force myself to stay inside the dev environment and keep typing. I finish a tiny function or a piece of functionality, and I'm like "There! Now I deserve a few minutes on reddit or TDWTF". Every little thing draws my attention away, and I WELCOME IT. I'd rather deal with junior's inane questions and business emails than programming.

    I'm feeling like that at the moment. I've been on the same project for two and a half out of my roughly three years of working as a programmer, and am thoroughly sick of it. Waiting to hear back from a new job I interviewed for, and am finding it close to impossible to actually do work in my current job.

    I don't think I want to do the "multiyear project" thing. New job (fingers crossed) is lots of smaller projects (2-3 months each, apparently). I think that'd do a lot to keep my brain fresh and interested.

    Do you think the multi year nature of your project, getting into a rut, could be a source of your problem? (Granted, doesn't explain why you're bored of the hobby project, maybe it's been going for a long while too?)



  • @anonymous234 said:

    I've been struggling to become a productive person for years

    Here, you have it.

    "Struggling for years" and "becoming productive" don't really mix. When you feel like you struggle, you're doomed. When you're in the flow, everything seems effortless.

    You struggle, because you don't feel progress, you don't feel like you're advancing in your work, you don't feel the drive of it, you feel that there's no point in struggling it because at the end of the day you're going be exactly where you've been in the morning.

    And as days/months/years pass, you feel progressively more and more stupid. Cool kids around you produce cool things, all the while you are treading in place.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Anyone else experiencing this?

    This sort of things comes and goes in periods for me. IMO, it's the worst when I can't be "arsed" (for the lack of a better term) to work on something I normally would consider interesting and fun.

    I don't have a good solution to it. ATM trying out some task management app, where I can just say "show me the next task(s) that I should be doing". That way I don't have to think too much about what I should do, which inevitably ends up being "procrastinating". (Me posting here shows how well that's working, I guess. :confused: ...)



  • @cvi said:

    This sort of things comes and goes in periods for me.

    Yep, that happens to me every so often. Sometimes, at least for work, you just have to slog through it.



  • I assume you've already read this. It's a pretty common problem and I definitely go through phases of high and low productivity.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Summary: Sleep, eat, exercise. Introspection, examine own motivation. TMT. Willpower.

    Some useful advice. But it focuses more on forcing myself to get things done.

    I can actually usually do that part, as proven by the fact I have not been fired yet.

    But what I'd really like is to not HAVE to force myself. To capture the level of concentration and interest I achieve on my throwaway fiddles and apply it in my real projects.

    Easier said than done, yeah.

    @wft said:

    "Struggling for years" and "becoming productive" don't really mix. When you feel like you struggle, you're doomed. When you're in the flow, everything seems effortless.

    Yeah that's it. The "flow". The "zone".

    When I get that, coding is the best job ever. Unfortunately, for me, it usually happens when it doesn't matter, or when I'm so far behind the schedule, I HAVE to get things done.

    @KillaCoder said:

    Do you think the multi year nature of your project, getting into a rut, could be a source of your problem? (Granted, doesn't explain why you're bored of the hobby project, maybe it's been going for a long while too?)

    No, the hobby thing has just started. Basically, I'm making the new version of my personal site. You know, the basic blog + see my CV + download my projects thing. I already had a few of these before.

    I guess I sort of feel like I can't do other things until this is ready (so I can "blog" about it, post project pages, whatever). But also, I want to do a real site, not just some wordpress low-effort crap. So........ dunno. It's like I'm blocked by perfectionism? Or something?



  • @wft said:

    When you feel like you struggle, you're doomed. When you're in the flow, everything seems effortless.

    So "I've been struggling to get and stay in the flow" then?

    Also, I don't agree. Sometimes I'm "in the flow" and can get stuff done effortlessly, sometimes I need a small but constant effort to keep working, but still get a lot of stuff done.

    Also, I'm still in university, with my daily schedule changing 3 times per year and >50% of my required work being "self-controlled" so it kinda sucks (Bologna process, all European students must learn to work by themselves and in group). I'm hoping I'll be better when I get a job, even a crappy one (hello 52% youth unemployment rate, nice to meet you).

    Fuck, I've been procrastinating for an hour now. Good bye, gotta work.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Yeah that's it. The "flow". The "zone".

    When I get that, coding is the best job ever.

    QFT.

    @cartman82 said:

    Unfortunately, for me, it usually happens when it doesn't matter, or when I'm so far behind the schedule, I HAVE to get things done.

    I can get into the "flow" fairly easily, but staying there for any significant time seems to become increasingly hard. I miss the times where I could sit down, start coding, and at some point realize that it's suddenly 6-10 hours later. Too many distractions? I dunno.

    Filed under: or just getting old


  • mod

    @cartman82 said:

    working on both feels like a chore.

    @cartman82 said:

    I start plugging it into the real production code, and suddenly, it's like someone's holding a gun to my head.

    Pretty sure that's stage 1 of burnout. Try dropping your hobby project for a while and focusing on less intellect-dependant tasks, like playing casual games, during your off hours. Let your brain recharge a bit. Or better yet, take a vacation, but that's not usually something you can just decide to do on the spot.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    Try dropping your hobby project for a while and focusing on less intellect-dependant tasks, like playing casual games, during your off hours.

    Trust me, I played every casual podcast game I could get my hands on. Still no motivation.


  • mod

    I meant for a week or two :)

    I switched jobs about a year ago, becoming full-time QA with no ongoing development tasks. Lately, I've had a ton of costuming work to do, so I've been putting off my hobby projects. Suddenly, without warning (I still have costuming to do, dammit!), I'm utterly engrossed by SockDrawer stuff, and the hours just slip right past without my noticing.

    But try to make myself work on a hobby project when I've been writing automated tests all day and it's a total nonstarter. The last thing I want is more code, so I keep slipping off to do anything else.


  • sockdevs

    @Yamikuronue said:

    I'm utterly engrossed by SockDrawer stuff, and the hours just slip right past without my noticing.

    this happens to me too!

    :smiley:

    it's weirdly fascinating that i'm still working on a project i originally intended to be a "see? it can be done!" thing that would be promptly forgotten. nope! still going strong!


  • sockdevs

    @accalia said:

    still going strong!

    Not to mention it's not just one personfox now; you have a whole team! And a second product!



  • Find something you really enjoy that is 180° off from tech so you can get away from it all. Works for me.

    Doing stuff outside helps me a lot with fighting burnout because I'm really an outdoorsy guy at heart (I grew up on a farm) and living and working with computers in offices and cities 100% of the time goes against my grain. So I'll go dirt biking, cycling, visit the rifle range, or camping if I have the time and vacation. I actually view computers and tech and such as a drain on my motivation and energy and I need something totally different to re-fill me.

    I definitely like to play video games but they don't recharge me at all, they're merely sufficient for passing time.



  • It's probably Cancer according to WebMD.

    Sorry, I jest in a rather cruel way. This also happened to me last year. I motor through coding in work but any hobby work I used to do just feels like a chore and doesn't get touched at all.

    So instead I went and bought GTA5. Worked out well for me.



  • I often find that when I'm doing 'hobby coding', I want to make the code too perfect and end up in a depth-first search to find the cleanest and best ways to tackle every problem, or best practises for the architecture. It makes it very difficult to actually achieve anything.

    A good example is a few months ago when I decided to try to learn ASP.Net MVC by creating a small project. I spent so long writing unit tests and trying to structure them consistently that I eventually got bored and gave up on the whole thing.

    I think I need hard deadlines, or at least pressure, so that I can force myself to produce something in a reasonable time scale.


  • mod

    @Keith said:

    I want to make the code too perfect

    OMG this.

    Maybe that's why SockDrawer is so addicting. the code's all in Node, and Node programming basically consists of glueing together the appropriate libraries until it does some approximation of what you wanted in the first place. You can go days without writing any actual logic.


  • sockdevs

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Node programming basically consists of glueing together the appropriate libraries

    <grump>
    that's my favorite language you're bashing there
    </grump>

    :rofl:

    yeah there's a lot of that, but take a look at the core of SockBot , discourse.js and messageBus.js in particular. there's a lot of logic in there and surprisingly few library dependencies ;-)



  • @Keith said:

    I often find that when I'm doing 'hobby coding', I want to make the code too perfect and end up in a depth-first search to find the cleanest and best ways to tackle every problem, or best practises for the architecture. It makes it very difficult to actually achieve anything.

    Oh yes. It's like a paralysis. I'm so concerned with getting everything right, that I just delay and delay and delay, until I'm sick of the thing. Actually, I think that's what happened with my hobby project.

    Now that I think about it, also what happens when I'm doing architecture planning. It's just waffling around between ideas, frozen with uncertainty. It's only once the deadlines loom and I start reducing the feature set to the minimum I need to push the feature out the door, that I get into "zone" and can be productive.

    Fuck.

    @Yamikuronue said:

    OMG this.

    Maybe that's why SockDrawer is so addicting. the code's all in Node, and Node programming basically consists of glueing together the appropriate libraries until it does some approximation of what you wanted in the first place. You can go days without writing any actual logic.

    It's not node.js - I get frozen just the same as in a "real" language. I think it's all about the attitude you take.

    If you don't care about the thing, you're free to just hack away and not care that this or that pattern isn't perfect for long-term blah blah blah. I get into the same mode with things I don't care about, like PHP.



  • My personal site is just a bunch of garbage HTML tables mashed together. If it's hobby stuff, just for you, who cares if its gross code? Just make sure it works, for whatever you need.


  • mod

    @accalia said:

    there's a lot of logic in there

    Yeah, I'm just a grumpy kitty :)


  • sockdevs

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Yeah, I'm just a grumpy kitty

    is rum or tea (or both) the correct remedy?


  • sockdevs

    @KillaCoder said:

    If it's hobby stuff, just for you, who cares if its gross code?

    Does it hurt to take at least a little pride in your work? :smile:
    @Yamikuronue said:
    the code's all in Node, and Node programming basically consists of glueing together the appropriate libraries until it does some approximation of what you wanted in the first place. You can go days without writing any actual logic.

    If you've ever worked in WPF/Silverlight/WinRT, thanks to databinding and WCF, you can do a similar thing, except it's binding expressions and XAML rather than libraries ;)


  • mod

    Both XD

    good news is, there's a convention on this weekend, complete with tea parties and all-night parties. So I ought to be less grumpy come Monday


  • mod

    @RaceProUK said:

    XAML

    No thanks :fearful:


  • sockdevs

    @Yamikuronue said:

    No thanks :fearful:

    It's verbose, but if you stay within Blend, it's manageable ;)



  • @RaceProUK said:

    Blend

    :barf:

    I always hand-wrote XAML because Blend would create XAML that's 26 times as complicated as it needs to be while making it far more difficult to change in the future.

    Been a few years though, maybe Blend has improved?


  • sockdevs

    @mott555 said:

    Been a few years though, maybe Blend has improved?

    Yeaoiahoeh… ish…



  • A hobby shouldn't be "work" though. It should be enjoyable. If you are having fun writing perfect code, do so. If a part of your code is a headache or a paralysis, then just chuck a quick pile of mostly functional garbage together and get back to the fun stuff.



  • @cartman82 said:

    On job I'm working on a large multi-year project. At home, I have my own small hobby project. But lately, working on both feels like a chore.

    Programming is the most boring part of developing a new product.

    @cartman82 said:

    So, have I just grown tired of programming?

    I spend tons of "downtime" in between working on functions or what-not. My code comes out better as a result, because while I'm surfing the web, my brain's coming up with a better design. In the course of working on the feature I've been working on the past 3 weeks, I've probably removed 3 times the code I've added to the solution. And it does more than it used to do.

    If you're literally sitting at an IDE and doing nothing but typing for hours on-end, you're probably producing really shitty code. We've discussed that on this forum before. Work smarter, not harder.

    @cartman82 said:

    Apparently not, because give me even a hint of greenfield, or an interesting question on SO or a good article and I'm all over it. Not even noticing as hours slip away, not even thinking about twitter or reddit.

    Ah; so you're one of those people who links code-wank more than creating actual useful products.

    @cartman82 said:

    So, have I just grew tired of the grind on my boring main project?

    Just take a break from the code and work on some of the more fun parts. For me personally, even designing a relational database is about 10 times more fun than writing code. And it's not very fun.

    @wft said:

    You don't feel rewarded enough. Not enough sense of accomplishment. Everything feels like a drag, like a routine, like "now what?" stuff.

    I've basically gone through my entire life without a "sense of accomplishment". It kind of sucks.

    @KillaCoder said:

    New job (fingers crossed) is lots of smaller projects (2-3 months each, apparently).

    I did that for awhile, I found it really enjoyable.

    @cartman82 said:

    But also, I want to do a real site, not just some wordpress low-effort crap.

    Code-wank is worse than going out there and actually creating a new product. But even worse than code-wank is going out there and creating a product that already exists. Ugh. No wonder you can't get motivated.

    @Yamikuronue said:

    good news is, there's a convention on this weekend, complete with tea parties and all-night parties.

    Invite me to do a talk on the difference between zeppelins and blimps, and why neither has a "balloon".



  • @blakeyrat said:

    If you're literally sitting at an IDE and doing nothing but typing for hours on-end, you're probably producing really shitty code. We've discussed that on this forum before. Work smarter, not harder.

    This.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    Invite me to do a talk on the difference between zeppelins and blimps, and why neither has a "balloon".

    Are you willing to dress up like Gilgamesh Wulfenbach?



  • @cartman82 said:

    What's wrong with me?

    You need to take a month off, find a nice beach or waterfall somewhere, let your phone go flat and recharge your battery.

    If you can't do that, find somebody else in your org who is suffering from the same thing, and try a little pair programming. You will know you've lucked onto the right partner when you finish each day tired as hell and having knocked out five times as much code as the pair of you could have achieved separately in your present state.



  • This is why I moved to more "managing" positions. I mean, how many CRUDs, login forms and data models you have to build until you are bored to death? 15 years for me. I still do some hobbies stuff from time to time and do some coding at work, but is usually challenging stuff which I feel motivated to do.
    I also liked being in DevOps, since I had to do different stuff everyday.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I spend tons of "downtime" in between working on functions or what-not. My code comes out better as a result, because while I'm surfing the web, my brain's coming up with a better design. In the course of working on the feature I've been working on the past 3 weeks, I've probably removed 3 times the code I've added to the solution. And it does more than it used to do.

    If you're literally sitting at an IDE and doing nothing but typing for hours on-end, you're probably producing really shitty code. We've discussed that on this forum before. Work smarter, not harder.

    Yup. That's what I argued in the vim flamewars. If you spend so much time flinging text that it pays off to invest months optimizing typing speed, you're doing it wrong.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Ah; so you're one of those people who links code-wank more than creating actual useful products.

    It's not either - either.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Just take a break from the code and work on some of the more fun parts. For me personally, even designing a relational database is about 10 times more fun than writing code. And it's not very fun.

    Sometimes change of pace helps. Unfortunately, any kind of deviation into dev-ops or client relations or whatever usually spills into delays on my main project. Boss is understanding, but I feel like shit.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Code-wank is worse than going out there and actually creating a new product. But even worse than code-wank is going out there and creating a product that already exists. Ugh. No wonder you can't get motivated.

    Every product already exists. You're not gonna change the world. Also, I have reasons for maintaining my own site other than "making a product".

    But whatever. This isn't the first hobby project I started and then grew to hate. And some of those others were actually even half-original.

    @flabdablet said:

    You need to take a month off, find a nice beach or waterfall somewhere, let your phone go flat and recharge your battery.

    Yup.

    @flabdablet said:

    If you can't do that, find somebody else in your org who is suffering from the same thing, and try a little pair programming. You will know you've lucked onto the right partner when you finish each day tired as hell and having knocked out five times as much code as the pair of you could have achieved separately in your present state.

    I never did that. Sounds like it could turn out either fantastic or utterly terrible, and you won't have any idea which until it's too late.

    Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon.

    @Eldelshell said:

    This is why I moved to more "managing" positions. I mean, how many CRUDs, login forms and data models you have to build until you are bored to death? 15 years for me. I still do some hobbies stuff from time to time and do some coding at work, but is usually challenging stuff which I feel motivated to do.I also liked being in DevOps, since I had to do different stuff everyday.

    When older colleagues used to tell me they are looking forward to moving into management, I was like "What?! You'd rather deal with idiot clients and icky people and meetings and suits and ties, than play some cool music and fling code all day long?"

    I'm starting to see the appeal.





  • @cartman82 said:

    It's not either - either.

    Look, the measure of a programmer is their ability to work in large, established, projects. Those are the people you want.

    Any clown can write a few lines of one-off codewank for a Stack Overflow page.

    @cartman82 said:

    Every product already exists.

    Not true; we had a thread just yesterday where I pointed out a few products that do not exist.

    @cartman82 said:

    You're not gonna change the world.

    I'm not, no. I'm a total slacker.

    @cartman82 said:

    I never did that. Sounds like it could turn out either fantastic or utterly terrible, and you won't have any idea which until it's too late.

    Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon.

    Just do it. You don't need buy-in from management or something, just plop down your ass with someone and do it.



  • @cartman82 said:

    it could turn out either fantastic or utterly terrible, and you won't have any idea which until it's too late

    It's like life in that regard.



  • @KillaCoder said:

    My personal site is just a bunch of garbage HTML tables mashed together. If it's hobby stuff, just for you, who cares if its gross code? Just make sure it works, for whatever you need.

    Well, if it's a site that hosts your CV, you might want to make the code sensible... Especially if you're aiming for web dev-related job. If I had a job candidate who would send me a Geocities-style personal page, I'd probably think twice before inviting him.

    As for the topic... Yeah, you tell me. The truth is, it's designing a project that can be fun. Actual coding is boring most of the time. For every interesting challenge you find, there's ten times as much boilerplate you have to write - and it's not much fun when you have already figured out what to do long ago and all that's left is to churn out the code.

    I spend a shitload of time on TDWTF when I'm working - both to refresh the brain and to let myself think straight while browsing. It's like with podcast games - your eyes are on the forums or emails, but your brain is figuring stuff out in the background. It's not really that bad.

    And being burned out and tired of coding isn't abnormal either. It's work, after all, and anything you do for a long period of time and not on your own accord can get boring. If you had to play Skyrim 8 hours a day, you'd probably be cursing this game after a week too.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    Well, if it's a site that hosts your CV, you might want to make the code sensible... Especially if you're aiming for web dev-related job. If I had a job candidate who would send me a Geocities-style personal page, I'd probably think twice before inviting him.

    Missed the part about it being for his CV. Yeah, don't do what I said :smile:



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    Well, if it's a site that hosts your CV, you might want to make the code sensible... Especially if you're aiming for web dev-related job. If I had a job candidate who would send me a Geocities-style personal page, I'd probably think twice before inviting him.

    This.

    Among other reasons.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Among other reasons.

    Though not for a CV, I still think it's better to fire out filthy code that works, if it gets you back to the fun stuff, rather than nothing at all.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    If you had to play Skyrim 8 hours a day, you'd probably be cursing this game after a week too.

    Impossible.

    Wait, can you use mods?



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    If I had a job candidate who would send me a Geocities-style personal page, I'd probably think twice before inviting himimmediately hire him as a full-time professor.

    FTFY, if my university experience is anything to go by.


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