June 24th, 2009

chromatic self


I've been employed for nearly two years now, and I'm still trying to figure out why I have so much more trouble focusing at work than I did at college, and what workflows work for me- and why.

The biggest problems I have are universally related to forgetting what I'm supposed to be working on. It's not just getting distracted- sleeping well tends to handle a lot of that- but forgetting what I'm supposed to do. It would be one thing if I just forgot what I needed to do later in the day or on future tasks, but I have developed the ability to forget what I am doing, and forget what I am supposed to be doing it, in the middle of doing it. In the case of programming, this can quite literally happen mid-line.

Being extremely aggressive about writing to-do lists for everything, including one with what I'm actively working on, no matter how brief or trivial, is starting to help. I'm just having trouble remembering to keep the list updated. In any case, it's a patch over a deeper problem; I've been trying to figure out why this wasn't happening to this degree in college but it certainly is here at work.

It certainly could be that I've cut down on the caffeine. I'm down to one cup of coffee per day, instead of the equivalent of three or four during college. A lot of what I'm describing- and a lot of my problems at work in general- are fairly consistent with ADHD as reflected in adults, and caffeine binds to many of the same receptors as Ritalin. I don't like that answer, though: it doesn't give me enough control. Yes, I do perform better on days where I give in and have a second cup, but that's not something I want to do on a regular basis.

I do have some thoughts, though. I also do better on days when I'm doing fundamentally creative work. Second best would be days where I'm listening to music. I can't help but wonder if a lot of these issues are related to my right brain being fundamentally bored by the sequential logic my left brain is doing and not having much to aim experimental, random, weakly-connected creativity at. (My personal opinion: left brain vs. right brain is, besides a few specific asymmetrical centers (most notably language vs. visual thinking), mostly a matter of depth-first vs. breadth-first logic. Note that our spoken language is quite sequential, while diagrams are much better for representing parallel concepts.)

I think I'm bad at paying attention to my right brain; I just haven't figured out the cues it's giving me. Now we're getting into my weird spiritual beliefs, but I conceptualize my brain as the supercomputer I have to assist my will and consciousness- a tool, yet not my "self". I'm realizing it would be better to conceptualize it as two separate (yet strongly-networked) computers, my left brain and my right brain, with significantly different specializations- and output. I think I've been listening to the speakers with the monitor off.

I wonder what I can do if I start more deliberately breaking up my tasks so part of them can be well-offloaded to my right brain? That's how I hit 20 on Brain Age Math, after all- scoring 23/25 in Number Memory was done largely by letting my right brain memorize shapes of numerical patterns on the board. I'm pretty sure my right brain has better short-term memory than my left brain, given my tendency to remember vs. forget things I'm doing and when it triggers.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • Current Music
    Puddle of Mudd- Blurry
  • Tags