Muhammad Muhsin

WordPress, React, and Remote Work

Falling in love with boredom

bookshelf

I had a phone call yesterday with someone I admire. We were speaking about various matters. Then the discussion came down to my career and how I got to be where I am. We were discussing the significance of a college degree to a successful career in software engineering.

I understand many factors lead to success, and it is wrong to say this is the only way or another path leads nowhere. A lot of the time, success can be attributed to just “being in the right place at the right time.”

However, I remembered one thing that is crucial to getting anywhere with coding or any job that requires a laptop, which is:

Sitting in front of a computer, staring at a screen for 4+ hours a day, every day, for the rest of your life.

This might be scary for some, and understandably so. At the same time, it could be fascinating to someone else.

Atomic Habits

I was listening to an audiobook by James Clear called Atomic Habits. In this, he says pretty much the same thing. He narrates:

The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom.

James Clear

He goes on to say, “The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.” Because habits become less interesting and less satisfying as they become routine.

Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated, but what makes the difference here is to continue when it is no longer interesting.

Like James says in his book:

Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.

While it is certainly true for programming, it is also true for pretty much anything we want in life that has meaning, purpose, and value.

Having said that, there are ways and means to make your job interesting. But that would be a different post altogether.


6 responses to “Falling in love with boredom”

  1. >The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom.

    Well, that could be true for some people, but some people can’t do the same thing over and over again. If I’m tasked to do something, I’ll do it the first time, second time, I’ll start to think if there’s a better way to get it done, third time, implement something that will allow me to get it done faster, and more efficiently, fourth time, well, that’s probably when I’ll automate it, fifth time, I’ll probably just ask the computer to do it for me (I’m too lazy to be doing the same thing over and over again) ๐Ÿ˜›

    >Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.

    Again, this is subjective, I’ve tried to schedule things in my life, a lot, but I find it difficult to focus on things when I’ve set time for it, and I constantly keep working on things that I ought to do and love doing, even when its past its schedule. After messing around with schedules a lot of times, I just gave up, and stopped looking at the clock. It gave me freedom, it gave me more energy to work on things, than to think about how much time I’ve left or spent on a given task. It gave me freedom to contemplate more aspects of a particular task in hand, rather than just doing it, and turned out, with that restriction out of the equation, I often get more things done in less time, as I do not have to think about time anymore.

    But let me clear one thing, things that work for one person, may or may not work for the other, its purely subjective, and depends upon the person. In short, I’d say, experiment with different things, schedule or no schedule, boredom or fascination, time or no time, in the end, it all depends on you, what works for you, and what does not. Though always keep a track of your progress, to ensure, whatever you’re trying, is actually working or not.

    You can say, this is subjective as well, but without any quantifiable info/statistics, to know where you’re heading and where you were, it becomes difficult to keep track of things.

    • Thanks for sharing your insight, Gagan! For things like productivity, it’s pretty much impossible to come up with an objective roadmap, since we humans are so varied.

      This is why I mentioned the following in the post:

      > it is wrong to say this is the only way or another path leads nowhere

      This post I wrote in 2016 might resonate with the ideas in your comment above: https://muhammad.dev/deep-work-flow/

  2. zaid says:

    I agree with this. Ppl always tend to overthink wen it comes to the things they have to do. They depend too much on motivation, motivation is volatile, you just have start doing what you have to do

    Being driven is the key ๐Ÿ—๏ธ

  3. Aditya says:

    Despite enjoying Atomic Habits a lot – this is the part I disagree with – especially as the data is sketchy on this.

    Okay, practice is important, and being good at something requires practice. Human beings are wired to be creative, this is a big part of their need to find meaning – in their life and their work.

    Habits are important to be functional. But that is just about it.

    Doing something single-mindedly without distractions comes at a price. The price of being creative, of exploring and being curious.

    I cannot help but wonder if a lot of these books are written to make the readers feel comfortable in being institutionalized at their workplace or in their current scenario.

    • Out of all the lessons in Atomic Habits, I had to write about this specific one, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Do you agree with the famous 10,000-hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell?

      Getting bored can be a reason for innovation in the world because we were not satisfied with the status quo, I agree.

      At the same time, there are so many folks who have not got enough time in front of the computer screen (coding or learning) but want to try out the next shiny framework or land that next cool job. My post was targeting them mostly. Perhaps I should have prefaced the article with this.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this!

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