I like to read articles and check twitter every morning (usually no more than 30 minutes) and then I get down to my programming tasks.

However, I have found that sometimes where I have a large programming task which is about 3 or 4 weeks, I am so engrossed in my work, I rarely get time to do anything else.

After finishing the task I feel bad I did not do anything else but the task.

My question is should I have the same ritual (30 mins every morning reading articles etc) even on large tasks or is it normal to just focus on the task at hand without any disruption?

I tend to feel that if I spend 30 mins reading I will not be focused on the big task.

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    So you're saying that you spend your time working and before you know it, you don't have any time left to procrastinate? And this is a problem? Sounds to me as if you're doing just fine. You're being paid to do that task, not to read twitter. – Jeroen Vannevel Apr 1 '14 at 22:45
  • That's a very naive assessment, Jeroen. There are plenty of studies that have shown social media and surfing the web at work increase productivity, despite it seeming like just slacking off. – corsiKa Apr 1 '14 at 22:50
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    However, @corsiKa, in this case he clearly was accomplishing what he needed to be accomplishing. – Amy Blankenship Apr 1 '14 at 23:32
  • That may be, Amy, but he may actually have been more productive if he had stuck to his routine. Who wouldn't want to get more done in less time? Clearly his system is working (if it wasn't, I feel it would have been addressed in the post) - OP is merely here to be even better and how to go about doing that. (On a side note, comments always notify the OP and the most recent commenter - @ notifications do nothing if you @ notify the most recent commenter =D .) – corsiKa Apr 1 '14 at 23:42
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    Hey more, and welcome to The Workplace. "Is it good?" depends on what works for you. As explained in our help center, Questions looking for opinions on what to do but with no specific problem are suited for discussion boards (not a question/answer site) and generally will be closed on The Workplace as "primarily opinion-based." Any chance you could try to edit your question to explain the problem a bit better (what's the issue you're facing?) and less on asking us what works for you (which we can't do anything but guess)? Thanks in advance! – jmac Apr 2 '14 at 1:42

I think you have to find the balance that works for you.

Some folks like the routine of a 30 minute/day light research time. Some folks work intensely and then take a break and dig into a new insight. I know that I, personally, have to have some pressing question in mind before I can deeply consider new information. I think it's as much personal style as anything.

Do what pace you find most efficient and energizing. Continuous learning is about not giving up on getting new ideas across the span of your career, not a checkbox that must be checked off every day. But it's also not something you can't ignore for 3 years and hope to catchup with. And it's also about absorbing the new ideas, and making use of them... so if you find yourself reading and yet distracted by a pressing project, this may not be the right pace or balance for your personal style.

It's also about what form factor works best for you. Reading articles is one option. So are small personal projects. Or audio books. Or chats with colleagues who have something to teach. Some folks research breadth and keep up on every new technology, some go for depth and really learn about a particular domain.

There's no one right way here.

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  • Thank you for the reply. I would love to try to stay to a routine, but I would have this nagging feeling I should be working on my core task (even though I will be doing more hours than I am paid for on it (which I know we all do)). Maybe I should allocate my 8 hours as time for my task and then do the rest of my research outside of it. – more Apr 2 '14 at 14:54
  • I stick with do what works. I don't deal well with 30 min/day of forced reading - I love reading, but it's all or nothing. So my process happens to be 1 - try to hit a conference or bootcamp each year, 2 - have audio books for the commute on technical subjects, 3 - follow up on any link anyone recommends and make myself write something thoughtful back as a thank you, 4 - play on Stack Overflow while doing personal projects. All these things are short bursts, that I do here and there. I try not to let a month go by without doing something, and I reflect yearly on what I learned. – bethlakshmi Apr 2 '14 at 15:11
  • @bethlakshmi - what audio books are good for programming? I have not heard such. It would be very good, you could listen while driving or so when you cannot watch, but you are bored – Will_create_nick_later Jan 5 '17 at 18:23
  • For programming specifically - I'd expect that if you are thinking you want code examples, audio is a bad form factor. I read a lot of security topics and good practice type books in audio format. I tend to search through Audio books and find the hot topics that interest me each quarter or so. I'm a fan of Bruce Schneir, Malcolm Gladwell and the there's a few readers that I follow. – bethlakshmi Jan 12 '17 at 18:48

I have tacked several large (longer than a month) programming projects. I have found that keeping my energy and focus high is essential. Sometimes I find myself surfing on a mighty wave of programming inspiration, solving problems in quick moments if inspiration and coding for days without regard to the outside world. Other times, just looking at my code base is painful. However, I do find that inspiration often comes when I am in a positive mood and very disconnected from the things around me (especially if I am in an office setting.) Do whatever you can to maintain the energy. If reading or other activities become a form of escape, don't do them. If they refresh and inspire you, do for it! The real answer is based on you personal experience. However, positive energy (in the correct direction) is something worth defending.

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  • Thanks for your input. I think you have summed up how I have been feeling. – more Apr 2 '14 at 15:51

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