Unstable Programmer Productivity may actually be Attention Deficit

I just re-visited this article that I had first read about a year ago when it was posted, as some-one tweeted it just now: How to destroy Programmer Productivity.

This text resonates with me. I’ve had the same kinds of experiences, including the misophonia. (One time, I almost jumped up from my chair and shouted at a co-worker about 15 metres across the room, because he was making microscopic noises with his lips that probably nobody else would have been able to hear if they tried really hard.)

I posted the following comment but am not sure if it will be shown, so I’m copying it here. I think this contains some ideas that may be interesting to anyone who is affected by these issues. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I know all these issues from first-hand experience, but I don’t think this is something that is unique to coding (which is implied here and elsewhere). It might actually be more related to attention deficiency, which is a psychological condition, and that would be a problem in any profession. The correlation may be that people who are »wired« (have a disposition) to be affected by attention deficiency are statistically more likely to seek out professions such as software development, which is why these issues seem to show up more here than in other jobs. But this is only a (my) hypothesis.

I’ve undergone the diagnostic procedures for ADHD more than once, and both times the outcome was something like 50:50 (»There are some indications that you have it and some that you don’t.«) My doc has given me Methylphenidate anyway just to see if it works – and it does work, as does Modafinil and probably any of the amphetamines, or any stimulant, for that matter (it’s not a co-incidence that developers are usually very addicted, or at least inclined, to caffeine). The drugs don’t work wonders, but they make it easier to stay in the zone and not get pulled into outer space by every little distraction.

I’m not saying that this is necessarily a medical condition, or that it should be treated with drugs, but for people who are dealing with these kinds of issues this might be worth taking a look at.

From my experience, the base issue is that »people like us« can get hyper-focused (much more so than those not affected), but the downside is that we may lose focus altogether and just keep drifting off, which is something that does not seem to happen (as much) to those not affected from this special brain-wiring (or whatever it is). So what seems to be happening is that our focus regulation (which is strongly linked to the neurotransmitter Dopamine) tends to get out of control, giving us the hyper-focus some of the time, and much too little focus at other times.

You may also like to try out a number of techniques that can help to get this focus-imbalance (of sorts) back in order, such as meditation or yoga (yes, seriously).


Author: schoschie

I like to see the wiring under the board™

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s