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Back on the procrastination thing...

Kyralessa said "is setting a problem aside and not working on anything else " which I agree with.  I think there is a difference between putting off something and reading a software article or working on something simpler vs putting off something to go play quake for 2 hours. 

In the former case, you're doing things that will have a return on investment, even though technically you're procrastinating from the task you're supposed to be doing.  Thus, IMO, you're still being productive.  In fact, spending downtime educating yourself can often have a *better* return on investment than doing what you're "supposed" to be doing. In the latter case, unless you're a first person shooter developer, you're not doing anything that will have a payoff in the future.

I suspect that this may be part of the reason why Joel says he can get "only" two hours of productive coding in on most days, yet still be more productive overall than most of his teammates who seem to be working harder.  ( This kind of begs the question, what does Joel mean by "productive", but that's a topic for another thread ). 

So I guess really the issue to focus on is whether you're having "productive downtime" vs "Quake downtime".

Crimson
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Neither: if I'm stuck on a problem, I develop a solution by considering it but not thinking about it too hard, on a walk around the block or on my walk home in the evening.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I completely disagree.  I find that, if I'm stuck on a difficult problem, my brain needs to focus on something totally different than the original problem domain.  If I have a programming problem, I'll go draw a flower.  If I'm frustrated by drawing, I'll watch anime.  Whatever.

Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

My all-time favorite story on procrastination:

The Cohen Brothers (Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, etc) were writing the script for "Miller's Crossing" and were having problems with an overly complex plot and list of characters that was getting away from them - not much different than writing code at times I think.  The more they worked on it the more they disliked their output, and they finally just got stuck.

So they decided to take a quick break and write a new screenplay about a screenwriter who is working on deadline to crank out a new script and is hopelessly stuck.  I am not making this up, and thus was born the script to "Barton Fink".  After the brief break that this sudden side project offered, they went back and finished "Miller's Crossing", which is a pretty amazing movie.

I think most software developers procrastinate because they are creatively stuck, whether they will admit it or not.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

What we're talking about is not really procrastination. It's thought and consideration of the problem space, and that's vital for software development.

Like others, I find that solutions come at different times and can't be forced inappropriately. I find that working on a project can encourage a solution, but not always.

Conversely, in an early job I experienced the type of process that demands continual "work" and "progress." In that environment we were prevented from doing good work.

.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I agree; the term procrastination is being used to mean 'not do now' which is not what it means.

Procrastination, by definition, is a negative thing; not doing something now which you know to be the right thing to do for some irrational reason.

Although, saying that, I think there was some validity of the points made in the other topic about procrastination that sometimes putting something off for the wrong reasons can actually be the right thing to do. I guess technically though there exists a good reason for putting it off, so even though that's not the reason you are putting it off, one exists so it's not procrastination. whatever.

Yanwoo
Thursday, June 12, 2003

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=procrastination

None of these say "it must have a negative result."

The latin root seems to be pro (foward) crastinus (of tomorrow).

My bit fat websters confirms this

1. to defer action
2. to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

[< L _procrastinat(us)_ (ptp. of _procrastinare_ to put off till the morrow), equiv. to _pro_ + _cras_ tomorrow +_tin(us)_ adj. suffix +_atus_ -ate]

I ignored the little symbols on top of the letter because I'm too lazy to reporduce them.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 12, 2003

is it not implied by 'must be done'.

Surely if something 'must be done' then there is a negative consequence if it is not done? otherwise it wouldn't need to be done.

Cambridge Dictionary:

'to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring:'

Yanwoo
Thursday, June 12, 2003

If you could easily skip it, then you wouldn't procrastinate it, you would just skip it. I've already demonstrated that the root of the word simply means to put off until tomorrow, what more do you need? At this point we're just arguing over

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=semantics

and it's getting silly.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 12, 2003

fair enough, but the root of a word and it's current meaning are often not the same.

Like you say there is no point arguing over semantics - as long as we both know what each other means.

and I mean . . . A load of people do put stuff off when they know they should do it, often for irrational reasons, and subsequently sometimes suffer the negative consequences.

Yanwoo
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Right and I mean

"A load of people do put stuff off when they know they should do it, often for irrational reasons, and subsequently sometimes suffer the negative consequences. "

... And sometimes it turns out good.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Agreed.

Yanwoo
Friday, June 13, 2003

Glad that's settled.  Now GET BACK TO WORK!!! ;)

Keith Wright
Wednesday, June 18, 2003

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