2011.06.09 - don't wake up the programmer

while(!asleep()) sheep++; all of the time, since so many years i do have a constant problem with explaining my work to non-programmers and especially to non-technical people (i.e. the majority). i often used the analogy of an artist, working on his new sculpture or a poet writing a highly complicated novel. so many times i've repeatedly explained that i can't be distracted when at work, that even a simple “how are you doing?” or “have you seen my <whatever>?” causes time loss of at least 15-20 minutes, before i go back to the point i just left (or rather: was forced to leave). when i know i will be bothered every 15 minutes to do some small thing i do not even start to work. it is simply pointless – most of the time i'll be “switch contexts”, not doing much of work, betting frustrated and tired. when i start to work i have no problem with doing required task for 10 and more hours with just a 20-minute brake to eat something. it is true as long as i'm not interrupted, talked to or bothered in any way. during my studies friends were amazed that i don't have instant messenger running, when i work on my computer. i used to turn off the phone to get as much as i could from time given to perform a given task.

it is hard to explain to people around. even harder to explain to your girlfriend: “i do care about you, but when i am working i need to be alone in a quite place and not be disturbed at any time”. people say “yes”, “i understand” but they don't seem they really do.

few days ago Mariusz sent me an astonishing article – don't wake up the programmer. it is brilliant analogy that programmer's work is like being asleep. if you're woken up every 30 minutes “just for a second” and asked even the simplest question, you won't have much of a sleep – you're work won't be done, or at least won't be done as good as it should be.

this article is for two groups of people. first are the programmers, who finally may have “working” analogy to explain they work and environment requirements to others. second group is rest of the world's population, who have contact with programmer(s) at work, to know what to do and more important – what NOT to – at that time.

i used to work for a big, international company for some time. after a while they moved us from office rooms (3-6 people each) to open space. officially: it's more efficient and contact among the workers and management is better. really: cost savings. when we first moved to the room i just couldn't imagine to work in room with 60 other people. i was right. when work week started i was unable to perform even the simplest tasks efficiently. it is pure maths. imagine 30 people, each will start a chat with random person in the room, let's say for 5 minutes 3 times a day. not much. but this means that we have total of 30*3*5=450 minutes of talks, that is 7.5 hours! it means that all the time someone is talking! now add phone calls, teleconferences, meetings and background noise when people move their chairs, press keys on the keyboard and so on… i run from that place after few months. from that moment, each time i was on the interview i always asked how big rooms are there to work in.

blog/2011/06/09/1.txt · Last modified: 2013/05/17 19:08 (external edit)
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