Brain dead

I can’t think. I can’t focus. My thoughts are scattered, flying around of their own volition, out of my reach, out of my control.

I believe this is what people call “burnt out”.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been coding for, or working on, a few projects. I was either the sole developer, or a major contributor to the project. Their deadlines had been either back-to-back or overlapping. And this unhealthy schedule stays for the next couple of months.

I may be a Polymer, but I am only one.

There had been a few instances in the past where projects bunch up together. It was tough, but I weathered through. This time, it took its toll on me. I’ve never been out of the Zone for so long.

All my usual remedies failed. Reading. Hanging out with friends. Listening to upbeat music while working (but I already do that on a regular basis). Tea. Playing video games. Exercise. Coffee (mocha. I can’t withstand the strength of “normal” coffee…). Going for walks.

I was about to attempt unfettered hedonistic pleasures when I remembered I could take a break. Ok, it was more like “Take a day off!”, “Stop working!” and “Fight for Freedom!”. Ok, maybe not the last one…

I heeded those subtle hints, and took a day off here, a day off there. The Chinese New Year, which was just over, lengthened a weekend. So many people were taking days off too. Hint: don’t take the same days off as the other people if you can help it. Take those days when they’re back in office. This way, you get more done because you don’t get interrupted.

Stop interrupting me!

This episode was seriously difficult to recover from.

It came back, surprising me with its arrival. My coding groove. There were no announcements, no hints. One day I was down in the slumps, the next I was able to think cogently for a few hours straight. That gave me enough time to sift through the requirements, because much of programming isn’t really writing the code. It’s thinking.

I’m still feeling terrible, but at least I’m able to get the projects moving faster now. All the tricks for getting my energy back failed abysmally. In the end, my mind and body provided the best solution.

It was time. I just needed to rest. Sometimes, the fastest way is to stop.