Thursday, January 23, 2014

Define "Important"

I've been thinking a lot lately about my lack of creativity and drive to learn, in relation to Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. I know there has been some disagreement with this model, but the idea stuck with me since I first read about it in Psych 101, way back in the early 90's. For those unfamiliar, the concept is that you can't address higher order needs like creativity and learning without first addressing lower order needs like food, shelter, and self esteem. In case I haven't been abundantly clear, I've been suffering from some esteem issues lately. I like to think they are getting better. I'm hoping to push the envelope a bit on addressing more than one need at a time.

I found out yesterday I'm supposed to have read Clean Code and The Clean Coder. Well, not "supposed to have" so much as they made this a requirement for all engineers after me. For me, it was "suggested" on a list of several others. I chose some of the others, because I feared the coding in these. For similar reasons, I also have "How to Think Like a Programmer" and "ReWork" on my list of books I need to read. 

I have yet to figure out where in my schedule I can fit reading. Or rather, where I can fit reading when I intend to retain what I've read. This past week, the closest I've come to learning (outside of the learning I'm doing daily in the course of my job) is to watch a YouTube video on Pompeii, and that I only watched half of while running on the treadmill. I have actual code I want to focus on, but haven't.

The author of Clean Code, "Uncle Bob" Robert C. Martin has apparently done video of the tenants in his books.  A quick YouTube search shows there are several hours of Google Clean Code Talks. If I'm going to watch videos while on the treadmill (when I'm running at home), I should choose these over RedBox Instant (which doesn't have any real selection anyway). I'll still want to read the books. I know I won't retain as much from the videos, especially since they won't have my full attention if I'm also running. 

So let's think about scheduling. Where can I fit in the learning I claim to want as a life-long pursuit?

I've been trying for the past few weeks to get up an hour early and work out before work. That is not happening, so getting up early to learn is also not likely. That leaves after work and weekends.

I'm not making it up early, so my workouts happen daily after work. Monday is a long workout. Tuesday and Thursday I also donate plasma, which takes about an hour to get to from work, then an hour to donate. Essentially, I get home from the gym between 8-9pm most days, except the days I spend at Superman's. Bedtime is 10pm. This does technically leave me an hour or two every day to study. Or write blogs. Or, as has happened lately, read Reddit.

I think it's time for the 15 minute rule. This used to work well for me, when applied to my sculpture. Essentially, I insist on spending at least 15 minutes studying/reading/learning every day. If it's not working for me that day, I can pack it up after 15 minutes. More likely to happen is, once I'm into the book/video/code, I'll look up a half hour or hour later, wondering where the time went. At least that's the hope, and how it worked with the sculpture.

I'll have to set this up for my art too, though it won't be every day. There's at least 15 minutes of set up and clean up involved in that. I'll have to make time on the weekends, which is an entirely different scheduling nightmare. What I can do, every day, is write or sketch out ideas I can then work on over the weekend. 
Not quite there, but getting there. The question is, what exactly is really important? 

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