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Coding In The Moment

Published 6/22/2018

The way we develop is impacted by the way we view the world around us. In today's episode, we're talking about the concept of mindfulness and recognizing that the past is out of our reach while the future fluctuates, and this can impact the way we view our work as developers.

This uncertainty can impact the way we view our work as developers, and how we can observe this to manage our mental energy.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
What are you doing when you listen to this podcast unless you're driving? Why don't you pause and take a moment and look around you? Think about where you are, where you're physically located, but also where you're kind of mentally located. What are you thinking about? What thoughts have been going through your mind for the past five minutes? Fifteen minutes even the past hour. A lot of people listening to this podcast, you're doing it at some regular interval. You're listening to it maybe on your jog in the morning or on a commute. It's kind of made for those kinds of activities or on a break. That was the original intent for this podcast. But I want you to think about this in a kind of a new way. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers connect to their career purpose and to help them do better works that can have a positive influence on the people around them. This sounds ethereal. It sounds really kind of obvious that you want to have a positive impact on the people around you. But it starts with you and so many of these episodes are about understanding yourself and understanding ways that you can have a positive impact on your own way of thinking so that your work improves. Not only is it important to connect to the work that you do to find the purpose in it, to understand how it is making the lives of other people better, how it's improving the world, their improving humanity or providing for someone. But also to do higher quality work so that the amount of energy that you put out is rewarded with better higher rates of quality. So understanding yourself is key to creating that useful engine. We've talked about that most recently on Developer Tea. That engine rather than having incremental progress, building engines that create value and you are the ultimate engine that you can work on. So I want you to take that moment to really think about where you are and think about how you got there. What led you to find yourself wherever you are right now? Most people are going to answer this with whatever the last transit opportunity that they had was. If you took the bus this morning, you would say, well, the bus led me here today, right? And today is Friday and so very often you're not going to answer by talking about what happened on Thursday. But the reality is that everything that has happened has led you to where you are. Now the past, this concept of viewing this past, these sequential events, really none of those sequential events that have happened. None of them are present with you now. This is a practice of mindfulness. And hopefully if you have listened to this show, you know, we talk about mindfulness and we talk about understanding and living in the moment. And this illusion of past events. It's not that things haven't happened and that you don't have experiences and that you don't have imprints in your memory of those experiences, but rather that nothing that has happened is really under your control. It's not really manipulable, right? Everything that has happened has led you to where you are right now. And so you're thinking, well, this is a development podcast. Why are we talking about mindfulness? And why does this sound like a philosophy podcast? Well, it comes down to how you see the world and how you see every single small interaction in the world. We're going to talk about this and how it can apply directly, not abstractly, but directly to the way that you debug the way that you write code, the way you build features. We're going to talk about that right after we talk about today's awesome sponsor, BitRise. Today's episode is sponsored by BitRise. BitRise provides mobile continuous integration and delivery for your whole team with dozens of integrations for your favorite services. And it goes beyond services. We harp on this all the time when we talk about BitRise, but I think it's so cool and it's so important to understand that BitRise allows you to connect very low-level actions, very simple actions together as well. These are actions that very often in tools like If This Than That, you're not going to have these very simple actions, but BitRise has them available. And the cool thing about BitRise, the most important thing for development teams is that you can run all the stuff that you've set up to run on BitRise in the cloud. You can run locally as well. You just download a simple YAML file and set that up to run all the same integrations with your local environment that you run in the cloud. And what that also means is that you can take that BitRise on YAML file and drop it in the Slack or wherever you communicate with your teams in a three-mail. And your team can also run the same configuration that you have. Of course, you can check that bitrise.yaml file into source control. So if you wanted to update it and have all of your team pull it down, you could do exactly that. Go and check it out. BitRise has automatic platform and configuration detection. So you can go through the process of build, test, and deploy in just a few minutes. Go and check it out. They have over 170 integrations, by the way, head over to bitrise.io or you can use our special links, spec.fm slash bitrise. Make you again to bitrise for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So today we're talking about this concept of mindfulness. And despite whether you choose to think about mindfulness on a regular basis or not, if you aren't really interested in that meditative discussion, at the very least you can recognize that the past is out of your reach. You can't really do anything about whatever has happened in the past. That's really the crux of this argument. And realistically, you can't reach into the future either. You can't affect what will happen tomorrow today. Of course, you can do things today that will influence what will happen tomorrow. But ultimately, whatever happens tomorrow will happen as tomorrow comes. So this concept is not extremely difficult to grasp, even if you're not really particularly interested in talking about kind of the experience of it all, right? So it's important to recognize that this affects how you code. And here's how. So often when we are going through our everyday motions, we try to carry with us the kind of the weight of the day. So a simple example of this is waking up in the morning and encountering something that's frustrating. Maybe you watch the news and there's a headline that's, you know, that's really frustrating to you or maybe somebody cuts you off in traffic or somebody says an offhand comment to you or maybe your kids are being particularly difficult to get ready for school or something like this, right? And so it sets you up to have kind of this poor mood. And this poor mood doesn't stop whenever the event finishes. Whenever the headline is gone and you've turned off the TV or whenever the traffic is passed in your app work now, even if there were no particularly negative consequences after this event occurred, you tend to carry that mood forward. Our mood shifts are very slow. And this isn't just true about events that happen outside of work. It certainly is true when we are coding as well. So if you are experiencing a bug and you keep on experiencing that bug, no matter what you do to try to fix it, eventually that frustration continues to mount. And this can be kind of debilitating, right? This starts to cloud your vision a little bit, not your literal vision, but you can't really think straight because you're so frustrated by the time that you've tried 10 different ways of fixing the bug that the last thing that you want to do is try thing number 11. And this is true not only for bugs, it's true for features. If you build a feature and that feature doesn't perform well and then you build another feature or you iterate on that same feature and you continuously put time and energy into things that are failing. This can take a toll on your mental energy. You're going to feel as though the next thing that you do is kind of bound for failure, that everything is kind of useless, right? And some of this is actually really important. We have to recognize that our brain is doing something really amazing. It's learning from our experiences and then trying to predict the future. So what we experience is recognizing this kind of looking into the past and knowing that we can't do anything about it, but then also projecting what we see you from the past into the future. And this can be really detrimental to our mood, it can be detrimental to our work and it can also cause us to make poor projections. So here's what I encourage you to do. Because this is kind of hardwired, you're going to do this because your brain is trying to learn, it's trying to predict what will happen next. And it's addicted to that prediction so that it can keep you safe, right? You calculate these predictions all the time about other things as well. And it's very important for you to continue calculating those things. So it's not like we can turn this off, right? It's a part of who we are. It's a very good part of who we are. However, sometimes our brain needs a little bit of help. And sometimes we need to intentionally think about only now, to think only about this bug in terms of my next action, not my last 10 actions. And of course, this is kind of ludicrous. If you continuously take the same action over and over, then that's not really going to work, right? That's going to continue producing the same result. And that is kind of the definition of insane. You're not really going to have any effect if you do that. So what you're doing is you're updating that state in your mind without carrying forward the kind of the weight, the baggage of having done this work on this one thing for so long. Now, I can hear many of you thinking, well, it sounds easy when you say it, but it's certainly isn't easy when I'm feeling the burnout. And I encourage you to take a moment, walk away from the computer, get some water, look outside, and focus on something that brings you back to the moment. And this is a common meditation practice as well. If you have a specific thing, for example, even if you have a physical thing, let's say you keep a coin on your desk to pick up and hold for a few seconds, you can rub the ridges of the coin and really focus on how that coin feels in your hand. This is going to kind of interrupt that process of retreating out of the moment into your brain. And it's going to force you back into the moment. Another really good way to do this is to get up and do some jumping jacks. If you're a leader in your company, encourage you to encourage the people that you lead to get up and do jumping jacks to walk around the office and be active. Not only is this healthy for your body, but of course, being in the moment is going to be healthy for your mind as well. And being in the moment is going to produce better work. It's going to produce better code. And you're going to be much more resilient when you face the same bug again. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. I hope I've encouraged you and I hope that I've challenged you. Even though this is a gentle message that is reminding you to be in the moment, it is also a challenge to you because it requires awareness. It requires the ability to recognize when you have exited the current moment to the detriment of the work that you're doing. It's important to have kind of those boundaries, those guardrails in that way of returning to the present. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Bitrise. Head over to Spec.FM Slush. Bitrise to get started with Bitrise today. They have over 170 integrations. Bitrise is mobile, continuous integration and delivery for your team. Head over to Spec.FM Slush. Bitrise. Again for listening to today's episode and until next time, enjoy your tea.