Maia McCormick

Programmer, writer, nerd

Rules for OPW

Rules and resolutions for myself during OPW:

  • wake up at the same time every day.
  • eat breakfast every day.
  • eat lunch. Seriously, eat lunch.
  • drink liquids. Getting dehydrated is an easy to make your brain not work good and takes surprisingly long to register with your conscious mind.
  • check in with the inimitable Rose Ames via email every day with 1–3 problem/plan/deliverable result triples, and follow up at the end of the workday to see how well I did. If I don’t, she will attack me with angry animals.
  • have goals for the day, and plans for how to achieve them. Goals shouldn’t be vague, like, “Learn SPARQL”; they should be actionable (“deliverable result,” above), like, “Learn enough SPARQL to understand the queries in query.py, and as proof, give a line-by-line translation of one of the queries into English.”
  • at the end of the day, figure out what I did today, what still needs going, and what I’m going to do tomorrow.
  • take good notes in my notebook: write down things that I need to understand so that I process them better, write down errors I get and fixes I make so I can replicate, write down bugs and questions and future to-do’s, write down reflections and noticings about my working style
  • ask questions on IRC rather than banging my head against a wall
  • but bang my head against a wall a little, because it builds character, and more often than not I can figure out what’s actually going on.
  • Facebook is BLOCKED on my work computer, and on my personal computer during the workday (with the possible exception of lunch hour and clearly defined breaks). NO FACEBOOK. NONE. Seriously, I am enabling parental controls on my work computer right now.
  • there are lots of ways to waste time besides Facebook. If I feel myself getting into that zoned-out place where I flip back and forth between tabs pretending I’m doing productive stuff but not getting anything done, I will stand up, walk away, get a drink, etc., and figure out what I’m going to do when I sit back down at my computer.
  • switch up work spaces regularly, try to get out of my apartment.
  • make sure to see people, if just for side-by-side working, lunch breaks, etc.—I need social interaction in my life, or else I get sad.
  • this isn’t a rule so much as a neat idea that I may try to incorporate into my work routine: (from Pablo Torres, via Maja Frydrychowicz): “a trick I learned from @Maja Frydrychowicz is to take a walk at the beginning of the work day in one direction and to take the same walk in the opposite direction when you are done, which is what you do if you commute to an office.” Not sure if I’ll do exactly this, but getting outside and walking around is definitely important.

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