If you’re anything like me then pumping out 12-hour-a-day programming sessions are not out of the ordinary. It almost feels natural to sit for hours at a time staring into the terminal. This is actually quite an astonishing feat – it takes time to build up the endurance to pull this off 3,4,5,6 and 7 (hopefully not 7) times a week. After all, it’s not everyone that has the dexterous fingers of a programmer and the mighty reach of the pinky finger to hit that esc key in all those vim sessions. If I am not programming, then I’m usually thinking of what I can program next – a vicious cycle that never seems to end. However, with all those hours spent typing away, the novelty and sheer joy of programming had begun to slip away without me noticing.
With the approach of Thanksgiving break, a spark of joy ran through me – 7 whole days of uninterrupted, purposeful programming. No dumb school programming assignments to do, just my own ideas projected onto the screen. Yet, when break came, I had no drive. Believe me, I tried. I felt like a monkey who no longer liked bananas. So I picked up a book and read my break away. Not a programming book, just a pure fantasy – dragons, dwarves, elves, humans and all things inbetween.
And man did it feel good! It was like wiping away the condensation that has slowly built up unnoticed on the windshield. Life had new meaning! Well maybe I won’t go that far, but it sure did re-energize me. Perhaps this was just a newbie programmer mistake and most know the wonders of a nice break. However, for those, like the old me, who believe that they are immune to the slow and eventual decay of motivation or even those who do know but have forgotten the benefits, then I implore you to take advantage of the upcoming winter break. And when you take a break, really take a break. It’s easy to take a small vacation physically and have your mind still coursing over the same-old-same-old.
This is very important to all, but especially the programmer. Computers are everywhere now and it is getting increasingly harder to unplug yourself. Every small inconvenience can be seen as the potential for a new app or new website. This kind of thinking has its place, but not when you’re on break. Let everything go and you’ll be amazed by the effects it has. For me, I got right back into the programming groove without missing a beat and had renewed appreciation. So do yourself a favor and with Christmas, Hanukkah, and <insert your winter holiday here> coming quickly, give yourself a real break.