How do I achieve laser focus and concentration?

The single most important thing I do to “achieve laser focus and concentration” is to work in such a way that I don’t need “laser focus and concentration” to get my work done.

This has to be done the night before.

I always quit all online work at least 2 hours before bedtime and print whatever I’m working on.

Then I go into any other room with program listings, blank paper, and pens (especially red!) and plan out all of tomorrow’s work.

All analysis, design, and refactoring must be done at this time. I do not allow myself to sleep until the next day’s work is laid out. I also do not allow myself to get back onto the computer. The idea is to have a clear “vision” of what I am going to accomplish the next day. The clearer the better.

This does 2 things. First, I think about it all night (maybe even dream about it). Second, I can’t wait to get started the next day.

I always wake up and start programming immediately. Once I get going, it’s easy to keep going. Any difficulties are probably because I didn’t plan well enough the night before.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted December 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Any suggestions for coding in a noisy office?

  2. edw519
    Posted December 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hey, Sam, some great suggestions (especially the ear muffs) here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6768395

  3. Patricia Webster
    Posted September 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I always plugged my ears listening to my own music. Pointed to a post-it that said “Working on deadline” or “Go back and make sure your problem is identified clearly” knowing that quite often the answer would be discovered in the question if it were asked clearly.

    As a project manager I once had an obnoxious programmer who wrote a program that he would start each time he was interrupted. A large clock would come up on his screen that displayed how much time was being taken up to the 10th of a second. Below that was the amount of money it was costing the company for his services based on his hourly contracting rate. He would turn the monitor (yes, I’ve been coding THAT long!) so that while looking at Ed, er, Dennis, you couldn’t help seeing the cost of each exchange. Of course I stole the code and implemented it on everyone’s computer, calling it “Example of Contractors Unauthorized Work” and reduced Ed, er, Dennis’ pay for the time it took him to write it.

  4. Patricia Webster
    Posted September 9, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really Ed? Still? Seriously? What happened to starting the work day with 15 minutes of trash talking the boss, stretching and exercising then the 30 minute power nap? Just kidding. \

    Really, getting into the zone (in my humble opinion) seems like something that gets learned over time until it becomes just an automatic action, like a race car driver getting into the car then breaking speed records, the part where he gets into the car becomes easy and automatic, just a necessary step in preparation.

    Having a daily ritual or routine that includes a few preparatory steps always helped me. Anticipate what interruptions are likely and try to address them first. Make your greetings in person or through returned phone calls,, talk over last night’s game and the days terrorist threat level, get your coffee or whatever you need then state your intention to those who might likely interrupt you. “I’ve got to get the purchase order program working, write up a proposal for next quarter’s contracting budget and train Gloria on the new utilization process before noon so I’m going to get to it.”. The message is “I’m busy and we’ve already talked, so don’t bug me” but put as nicely or succinctly as possible to be effective.

    Then for yourself, get the necessary listings, the pens and highlighters lined up where you want them, the music queued and get to it.

    Mix it up until it works best for you and those around you. The process will become as natural and automatic as the steps for getting yourself out of your home everyday.

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