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On having focus

There’s something that has been happening to me lately, and that I’m struggling with: having focus. While this wasn’t a problem a few years ago, and I was able to sit down and work on one thing at a time without distractions, I can’t do that anymore. It might be that I’m getting older, or that I ambitiously pushed myself beyond my limits. The fact is that this started affecting me, losing motivation for things, and feeling exhausted with technology overall.

I found myself involved in multiple projects at the same time. I’m terrible at saying no, especially if it’s an exciting project where I can contribute. I’m also bad at processing ideas. Every time I have an idea, I overexcite instead of sleeping over it, and adding it to a backlog in case it’s something feasible with high potential to be worked on in the future. Imagine that happening every day and your list of active projects growing endlessly. You open your laptop in the morning, try to plan your day, and you don’t know in which project you should focus on. Should I work on this because today I feel that I’d love to do this one? Or should I work on this other one that has a couple of issues opened waiting for feedback from me?

Moreover, and like most developers, we are forced to work on the ongoing project of renovating ourselves. You can’t just learn a language X and expect that knowledge to be enough for your whole career. Language X evolves, and with it, some other technologies or languages that emerge. There are trends that you need to follow, even if don’t want to because that’s the only way you’ll have decent work opportunities in the future. For example, if you were Objective-C developer until Swift came out, and you didn’t invest time in learning Swift, you would very likely be missing a lot of opportunities nowadays. That applies to any language and technology: the Javascript developer that hasn’t learned declarative UIs using components, or the Android developer that is still using Java.

With so many projects to dedicate time to and a lot of distractions, having a lack of focus is a natural consequence. These are the things that I’m currently doing to bring that focus back and feel less overwhelmed:

I think it’s important to have these retrospectives with ourselves where we can see how technology is impacting us and how healthy our relationship is. We spend an insane amount of time with it, and this time is increasing every day. We shouldn’t allow technology take control over our focus, whether that is being happy, or be an astronaut.

If you are a developer, who has experienced something similar I’m curious to know how you overcame it and how you make to stay focus in this world where it’s easy to get distracted.