Re: Constant interruptions and left brain - right brain thing

Chris Sonnack <Chris@xxxxxxxxxxx> writes:

> I can't speak to the work modes of others, but it's not uncommon for
> me to be--figuratively speaking--several "sub-routine calls" into a
> process that requires successfully "popping each frame off the stack"
> on the way back to the main process.

Same here, and it causes no less than two different problems. When
interrupted, first you start losing your mental flow on the computer
problem as you're interrupted. Second, while that happens you're
nevertheless partially still "in it".

That means you probably don't understand -- or you just stare into a
distance and plain ignore -- what the other guy was saying to you.
Then you respond "Mmm-ummm, yeah, hmmm-hm" to get rid of him and end
up both not knowing what was he actually trying to tell you AND losing
your focus on the programming issue.



Except for interrupts which you can't always avoid, I have some habits
to serialize the state of my mind if I have the time to do that.

Those habits are useful if I know I have to leave and can't finish up
something in time. Working on something that's "almost finished" would
be pretty frustrating otherwise. Also, frequent requests to "come on!"
eventually serve as those deadly non-maskable interrupts, so you want
to shut down your mind gracefully before that happens.

I think what the habits are is not important -- they're just random
methods of writing down a note in your mind. In other words, they
activate certain, carefully learned behaviour in your brain. Also,
they're never perfect at restoring the state, but I find them
undoubtedly useful often enough to keep using them.

One of the best habits I have is deliberately broken source code. If
the source doesn't compile/evaluate (and possibly has some key ideas
or future sketches written in it in English, pseudocode, or the
original language) the situation looks fairly promising the following

I know the brokenness will bother me a lot which practically enforces
me to fix the code somehow as soon as possible to make it
compilable/runnable again. Now, when I start working on the exact same
spot where I left, my mind starts remembering all the other details as
well and I get a gradual dejavu. There's something learnable in it,
because I didn't become really good at it until after working a few
years in an environment where such an escape was practically a

These days, in the best case I completely remember what I was
essentially working on in a matter of 5-15 seconds. After an
involuntary interruption that left you no time to build your mental
mark, it could take hours in the worst case.


firstname.lastname@xxxxxx -- Today is the car of the cdr of your life.

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