Friday, January 23, 2009

Leave the editor open

I've been trying to adopt some practices from The Productive Programmer. Mostly by using more keyboard shortcuts and productivity tools like Quicksilver, Jumpcut, etc.

Yesterday and today I realized a productivity tactic that isn't in the book - just leave your work open when you "go home" for the night. Don't close the program. In fact, don't even close any files, tabs, or any background programs either. Just save everything and walk away.

The effectiveness of this trick is related to something Joel wrote about a while back ...

For me, just getting started is the only hard thing. An object at rest tends to remain at rest. There's something incredible heavy in my brain that is extremely hard to get up to speed, but once it's rolling at full speed, it takes no effort to keep it going. Like a bicycle decked out for a cross-country, self-supported bike trip -- when you first start riding a bike with all that gear, it's hard to believe how much work it takes to get rolling, but once you are rolling, it feels just as easy as riding a bike without any gear.
Maybe this is the key to productivity: just getting started. Maybe when pair programming works it works because when you schedule a pair programming session with your buddy, you force each other to get started.

In the bike metaphor, leaving all your work open is like leaving the bike poised on a down-hill slope. All you have to do is get back to it and hop on. If I sit down at a blank desktop, I'm more likely to open my email, read my RSS feeds, open work email, and THEN, finally, open my code editors. If I sit down in front of a code editor, I'm likely to start editing code immediately.

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