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Laziness

This is a discussion on Laziness within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I spend a lot of time researching the theory side of things and figuring out how to do things instead ...

  1. #1
    Epy
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    Laziness

    I spend a lot of time researching the theory side of things and figuring out how to do things instead of actually doing them. Especially things I don't have to do at my actual job. I figure out as much as I need to figure out "if I wanted to do this, this is how I'd do it" and then kind of move on.

    I eventually end up doing stuff months or even years later later, i.e. figure out how to do something, move on, revisit topic later, and actually do what I was thinking about doing.

    How do you keep yourself motivated? Caffeine used to help, and sometime it does, but nothing really gets me that motivated to sit down and do something unless I have to. If I would've done these things, I feel like I'd be smarter and more capable now.

    This is kind of a pointless topic, like, the answer to not being lazy is to do things. I know this. Guess I'm just wondering if it happens to others too.

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    Cat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    I spend a lot of time researching the theory side of things and figuring out how to do things instead of actually doing them. Especially things I don't have to do at my actual job. I figure out as much as I need to figure out "if I wanted to do this, this is how I'd do it" and then kind of move on.

    I eventually end up doing stuff months or even years later later, i.e. figure out how to do something, move on, revisit topic later, and actually do what I was thinking about doing.

    How do you keep yourself motivated? Caffeine used to help, and sometime it does, but nothing really gets me that motivated to sit down and do something unless I have to. If I would've done these things, I feel like I'd be smarter and more capable now.

    This is kind of a pointless topic, like, the answer to not being lazy is to do things. I know this. Guess I'm just wondering if it happens to others too.
    Well, I've been programming for a little over two decades, and I've never really taken a long hiatus. I think the secret is to work on projects that directly tie into your hobbies and interests. Apart from my earliest "hello world" days, and my college programming courses, I've never worked on a project purely to learn. Most of the software that I write nowadays is for work, and most of the remainder is for my own (non-programming) hobbies. If you really can't think of anything, ask friends or family for software they wish they had, and write it for them.

    Playing freelance programmer for my family and friends has led to some interesting projects for me - everything from writing patches for abandonware games to a spider that crawls websites and indexes products. None of them are things I would have really done on my own.
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  4. #4
    a_capitalist_story
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    I think the secret is to work on projects that directly tie into your hobbies and interests.
    I would agree with this. The problem arises when you have no hobbies or interests.

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    I spend a lot of time researching the theory side of things and figuring out how to do things instead of actually doing them.
    You categorize as a knowledge seeker, or a curious person. Contrary to your idea, you are not lazy. Just exercising a part of you people sadly don't often think of being an actual activity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    Especially things I don't have to do at my actual job.
    Which are usually the things that interest the most. A more extreme case would be you interested in learning all about astronomy, despite your job as a programmer having nothing to do with it. Are you lazy because you feel more exhilarated by acquiring new knowledge than to actually put it into practice? Certainly not, in my opinion.

    The motivation you are asking for, you already found. You just need to stop feeling guilty and drop the idea that learning makes you lazy. You don't need to program from sunrise to sunset in order to be an active person. You don't need to find hobby-like programming activities in order to be considered a programmer. More importantly perhaps, you don't need to put into practice your knowledge in order to validate your search for it.

    Like so many other professions, it's perfectly alright to be a programmer from 9 to 5, and only from 9 to 5. The idea that programmers should be consumed by their profession is a false one. Besides, if you don' find a motivation to program outside your normal work hours, don't force it on you. Your brain has already hard-wired itself to deny you that. This -- what you call laziness -- is in fact a lack of an external drive to program, since you exhausted your internal ones. You need an external drive to motivate you, like any perfectly normal human being would.

    It will come to you more naturally one day, or maybe not. Who cares? Your life as a programmer doesn't start and end in programming. It's just an activity. Few, very few, will ever engage in programming to the personal level you seek. I would even defend you should avoid it: Unless you intend to master yourself on a discipline (and you feel you have the intellectual power to do it), you are better of, and be a happier person, if you experience life from more than just one side of it.
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  6. #6
    Epy
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    Thanks Mario. That makes me feel somewhat better and I agree. You may be thinking though that I actually do a lot of programming but the fact is, I program like once every 3-4 weeks. Could be worse, could just be sitting around watching mindless TV etc.

    My problem is that when I think to program something, I realize that many many others have done the same thing and I feel like I won't be accomplishing anything. On the flip side, when I find something challenging and less common, it's having to do with an area I have no expertise in at all and I'd have to learn something else first before attempting the problem. Guess I should pick a topic and then hope to run into the less common problems once I learn about the topic.

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    Could be worse, could just be sitting around watching mindless TV etc.
    I completely gave up the tube three years ago, and couldn't be happier. In fact, I despise the medium so much now that it's become a "thing" amongst friends and family.

    My problem is that when I think to program something, I realize that many many others have done the same thing and I feel like I won't be accomplishing anything.
    The compendium of human knowledge is a great and wonderful thing, but this has made it nearly impossible to achieve new/great things in most fields without a lifetime of dedicated study. If knowledge of a craft were a snowy mountain, I often feel I'm near the bottom, where the snow is already dirty and trodden. Near the top, where the snow is fresher, is a difficult climb. Perhaps impossible if you choose to be the "jack of all trades" type (as I am - what fun is it to focus on one thing when there are so many interesting things to absorb?).

    I've taken on so many hobbies that I often get mentally overwhelmed, which makes me give in to distraction and end up accomplishing nothing. It's gotten worse as I've gotten older - with a busy job, house/chores, and other obligations, I'm lucky if I can get an hour a day to pursue all the interests I want to.

    I suppose the idea is to chug along, doing what you can as you can.
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  8. #8
    and the hat of wrongness Salem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matticus View Post
    I completely gave up the tube three years ago, and couldn't be happier. In fact, I despise the medium so much now that it's become a "thing" amongst friends and family.
    You might like this then
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD9pJzZ1XGI
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    Epy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matticus View Post
    I completely gave up the tube three years ago, and couldn't be happier. In fact, I despise the medium so much now that it's become a "thing" amongst friends and family.
    I'm heading that way. Haven't had cable for 2 years now, watch some stuff on Netflix but really don't like watching TV at all anymore.

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    You might like this then
    haha nice. I was more impressed by that than I first expected to be. Only made it half through, have to finish it when I get home from work.

    Since televisions are starting to be used everywhere against us (here in the States, at least), I invested in a little device called a TV-B-Gone. Lots of fun, especially in restaurants and bars.

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    I'm heading that way. Haven't had cable for 2 years now, watch some stuff on Netflix but really don't like watching TV at all anymore.
    Good choice. To be fair, I still have my DVD collection I use largely for drunken nights when productivity is shot anyway. But even that is rare these days.

    Only half my gripe with television is about the medium itself - the rest is part of a bigger disdain for advertising. I've considered posting anti-television/advertising rants here before, but figured I'd spare everyone my tirades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matticus View Post
    I invested in a little device called a TV-B-Gone. Lots of fun, especially in restaurants and bars.
    a friend of mine built one, and it's even more fun in a store like wal-mart or best buy
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    You might like this then
    O_o

    Counter argument: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

    I'm not intending to start an argument or anything, and I certainly have no interest in defending the complete trash of "reality tv" thrown at us in a dozen different forms, but I will say that as long as "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" reruns television will always offer something great.

    Only half my gripe with television is about the medium itself - the rest is part of a bigger disdain for advertising.
    *sigh*

    I'm right there with you. It would be one thing if I wasn't paying for content as with the web (*), but watching 8 minutes of commercials for 22 minutes of something I'm only vaguely interested in watching while paying for the privilege is for the birds.

    Soma

    (*) I do use an "advert blocker", but for sites where I get most of the content I consume I allow the adds. A two minutes commercial for ~20 minutes of something I'm very interested in watching is far better use of my time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    Thanks Mario. That makes me feel somewhat better and I agree. You may be thinking though that I actually do a lot of programming but the fact is, I program like once every 3-4 weeks. Could be worse, could just be sitting around watching mindless TV etc.

    My problem is that when I think to program something, I realize that many many others have done the same thing and I feel like I won't be accomplishing anything. On the flip side, when I find something challenging and less common, it's having to do with an area I have no expertise in at all and I'd have to learn something else first before attempting the problem. Guess I should pick a topic and then hope to run into the less common problems once I learn about the topic.
    +1

    Seriously. Not to be pretentious, but it's like the programming for any problem is a trivial exercise. That's not to say that the relevant underlying theories (math/physics/etc) required to accurately/sufficiently model a system are always trivial, or that the code is always trivial; but that once the theory is understood, writing the code is just the trivial application of design patterns and similar things already known.

    That said, I can't claim to have done anything significant, so that may be the problem for me. The most significant reason for that, I think, is that any time I have an idea for something to write, the underlying system that needs to be written is to daunting to write; rather than my inability. I say "I think" because that could possibly be subjective bias towards assuming my own competency.
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