Priorities, dropping things you like, but don't love, etc.

Posts: 196
Joined: 2003.10
Post: #1
This might be a long post, but I'm going to try and keep it short.

When I was a kid I tinkered with computers, but never as a programmer. I liked my mac well enough, but I loved my 286 because of a racing game that I could play on it. I grew up, found some friends in High school who liked macs and got more into it, subscribing to MacAddict in the earlier years (when it was funny - perhaps I was simply younger). My early encounters with REALBasic were awkward and revolved mostly around my intense will to create an installer for a Deus Ex mod (Disclosure: I did successfully create said installer (in retrospect it was an abomination) and caught the developer bug.

OS 10.1 was when I switched and found Project Builder. I dabbled in Cocoa, to no avail. At the time there was an open source project called Freecraft that was a project that supported WC, WCII files and was a pretty neat RTS engine. I dropped in hoping to maintain the mac port (again, far beyond my reach at the time) and got more into building from the command line, CVS, fink packages. The developers, in particular jim4 and Nehal were very nice to me and encouraged me, giving me small challenges to do in C (a change counter, text-based tic-tac-toe, etc). It was at this point that I took another stab at ObjC and got a working Tic Tac Toe game. I believe this is the point at which I stopped lurking here and started posting. That was a few years ago.

Since then I've had some fun, coding a little, but not very well. Offender ( was a highlight, but I rarely produced anything noteworthy. I made a flocking algorithm work and made a functioning A* demo, both of which were pretty cool in my books, but nothing really final. The fact remained that I'd get stuck and really want someone *else* to solve my code problems. I thought I liked logic, but I really didn't. I didn't have the patience for learning huge API's and perfecting memory management and managing pointers. I think it only really dawned on me a few months ago that: I really don't want this enough to spend all this time doing it

When you're a kid growing up you have a bunch of activities that your parents put you into, trying to engage you in a bunch of different fields so that you grow up to be well rounded and well versed in a bunch of different fields. At a certain point you become old enough to start making decisions yourself about what you have time for - you start prioritizing what you're interested in. There's an assumption (at least with me) that at a certain point you whittle down your interests to a manageable level and go with them. There are only so many hours in a day, only so many days in a week, and so on.

But this idea doesn't really hold true. You horizons keep expanding as you grow, and there are constantly new things that you'll want to do. The thing is, those new things start infringing on older things that perhaps you value(d) more.

The challenge, and really the point of this post, is to take ten steps backwards and ask a few questions about all the things that you do or like to do, or liked to do:

  1. Is it something you *really* want?
  2. Is it simply a novelty?
  3. Are you only interested in this because it's new and undiscovered?
  4. Do you wish you did more of this?
  5. Do you miss doing this?
  6. When you imagine your personality, or your persona, is this part of your ideal?

I've been trying to be very introspective the past few weeks and think about this seriously. I've mapped out my time, at the end of each day charting out how much time I spent on different activities. And at the end of each week I'd shock myself.

What I picture myself as, what I want my interests to be, my "ideal" is completely opposite to what I actually do. While I'm on a good start, and this year has shed new and positive changes towards what I'd like to be, what I see myself doing is shocking.

Now, some figures:
  • I spend an average of 3 hours practicing my violin. I'm a violin major at a Masters degree level - that figure should be *at least* that. I'd like that number to be 4.
  • I spend an average of 3 hours checking internet sites that interest me (about 25), checking email, reading/posting iDG, poking around in application development, and reading piles upon piles of technological literature (Google Scholar is your friend!)
  • I spend an average of 1-2 hours cooking/baking a day. This is something I never used to do. Ever. This is a brand new hobby.
  • I spend an average of 1-2 hours a day watching TV. Again, something I never used to do.
  • I watch about 2 movies a week.
  • I spend an appalling average of 1/2 an hour a day doing schoolwork. This is par for the course - I haven't really done anything more than that since high school.
  • The rest of the time is taken up with classes, eating, sleeping, and commuting (5 minutes away).

What this reveals is a disturbing trend. I've filled my days so full of activities that never:
  • Go to museums
  • Go to the symphony
  • Go to the ballet
  • Go to the opera
  • See live music
  • Do things that require time: picnics, trips to the zoo, talking over coffee with a friend on a Sunday afternoon - things that are silly but just fun and relaxed

I go out frequently (virtually every Friday/Saturday/Sunday), don't get me wrong. But I don't do the cultural things that I imagine myself doing.

More disturbing is that I've completely dropped older hobbies that I really enjoyed. I haven't read a fiction novel in 2 months - when I was a kid/teenager I read incessantly.

Also important is that I have several goals that I'm not implementing, simply because I've jammed too much in my schedule. I want to make a more concerted effort at school, not just get by with a B+ or an A-. I want to have breathing room so that I'm not late for everything and I have time to organize myself, but I don't want so much time that I end up wasting it.

Let's all breath for a second. I'm glad you've gotten this far, and I hope you're finding some sort of insight you can relate with.

Ok. So to summarize:

I have an alarming difference between what I'm accomplishing and what I want to accomplish. This is a serious problem, one that I'd like very much to resolve.

Something has to go.

I really like the cooking. But I don't have to make something nice *every* day. Chicken and Rice does the trick, and I can make a system whereby I can make a satisfying meal that isn't plain quickly. This can be accomplished by incorporating more preparation in my shopping - wash fruits/vegetables when I get them home from the market, precut meat ready for quick dinners, and be organized about defrosting things the night before I need them.

I watch crappy movies. They can go - movie-watching is for special occasions, and I don't *need* to see every new movie to remain culturally literate. In actual fact, being completely honest with myself, I don't like movies that much.

The TV is a "because it's there" sort of thing. No more. Food network, perhaps, but no more than an hour a day and hopefully incorporated into mealtime.

Here comes the big one: internet. I've taken the first step in cutting back. I just trashed my RSS reader - virtually all of the the blogs are unnecessary. My daily bookmarks has gone from 23 to 2. iDevGames is not one of those three - BBC and CBC are the sole survivors. I don't want to develop enough to give myself such an investment in it. Email has to stay, but I think I can cut back my computer time to a healthy 30 minutes a day.

This gives me incidental time, time to lie in the sun and read a book, time to write letters, time to take a nap occasionally, time to entertain friends, time to go to the Opera, enjoy the Ballet, heck - visit the zoo!

The reason I'm posting this is twofold. First, I think it's good for me to express this in a written fashion - it lends legitimacy to it for me to admit it in writing. Second, it gives me a chance to explain what I think was a good process in re-evaluating my priorities and hobbies. It was scary what I found out when I started mapping my time management.

I'm sorry to say that iDG will leave my links. But it's simply priorities. I don't mean to say that technology is a meaningless pursuit, nor do I mean to imply that it's a waste of time - I simply am conveying that it is no longer something that I want to spend as much time doing. I encourage all of you to try this - not in order to reduce your programming or recreational time, but rather to look at where you are compared to where you invision yourself being.

It's been fun. Good on all of you - I've seen a good many of you become very successful at what you do, and it's inspiring, no matter where your passions lie. Cheers.
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Posts: 749
Joined: 2003.01
Post: #2
Nice post, quite touching Smile

Every time you decide something like this, it's a good decision. Follow your goals!

Good luck Blobbo

©h€ck øut µy stuƒƒ åt
New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Joined: 2003.04
Post: #3
>wipes tear<
Our little Blobbo is growing up.
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Posts: 387
Joined: 2002.08
Post: #4
I'm glad you have taken a serious, long look at this - I did a similar time-mapping thing a couple years ago, and I think it's about time to do that again. Your post will get me to do it, I think.

I'm very surprised at your 1/2 hour of schoolwork... maybe you'll never come back to read these responses, but what was your undergrad degree? My homework increased by orders of magnitude between high school and college - computer engineering is not a simple degree. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing that you still can get by with that amount of work... just surprising.

Good to take this seriously, let's hope it's a good step towards a happier life. I hesitate to say this, but could you post back in, say, half a year and see how your progress has been?

Coincidentally, I have highly been desiring to get back to piano... performing music is something I have left out of my college years, and it saddens me to know I have let that slip.

A thoughtful post, thanks for the brain food.

KB Productions, Car Care for iPhone/iPod Touch
All too often, art is simply the loss of practicality.
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Posts: 1,140
Joined: 2005.07
Post: #5
We'll miss you, but it's a good thing you'll be doing what you want with your life.

Of course, I'm just the opposite with my wants: I don't care that much about visiting museums or becoming aquatinted with pop culture. I generally spend all my days in class, programming, and playing a few games every now and then. I only visit a couple of sites regularly: here and another forum. A lot of people would probably say my life is boring, but then again, I'm not like many people. My world exists more inside my mind then outside.
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Posts: 834
Joined: 2002.09
Post: #6
I'm sad to see you go, but I wish you all the best going forward. I've been wracking my head in the same way as you over the past months. I've decided that I love game development, but I seriously need to cut back on computer time. As an experiment, I'm going to stay off the internet for all of April. Ever since I made that decision, I've felt "no way, that's never going to work", but then I just feel that it has to work. Please do pop by some rainy day (consider it a coffee break with some friends Wink and tell us how you're doing!
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Posts: 337
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #7
egad, it's the geek version of the "let's be friends" speech!

Good luck in your endevours Aaron
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Posts: 457
Joined: 2003.08
Post: #8
Good luck Aaron, I'm sad to see an iDev-er leave the ranks. Have fun in whatever you may do!

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Posts: 2
Joined: 2010.11
Post: #9
My schedule began to look much like yours... and then I cut out TV and *presto* life started to get more manageable. And of course, no, I don't want to code for a living, sitting glassy eyed and virtually expressionless face to monitor with a machine all day punching in commands in hope that it will obey. I just like to create games as a hobby. I think my programming must average to around half an hour a day. But that's not to say that I program half an hour every day. Most days I don't touch a speck of code (well, before I started working on code for school). Then other days I get wrapped up in something and don't eat, move or blink for 16 hours at a time (ok, so I do blink,but it adds dramatic effect to say that I don't).

That's why I play guitar/piano, why I act, why I am going into mechanical engineering next year. As much as I enjoy creating things digital, it would scare me to lose touch with the tangible reality. And people, as interesting as computers are, all the computers in the world are not nearly as interesting or complex as a single person.

Good luck Blobbo! There's a big scary world out there *points at window* *averts eyes*
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Posts: 869
Joined: 2003.01
Post: #10
I honestly admire all the people who can make the decision to cut back on all the crap and start to manage their time.

Most of the time, whatever I do, I have the feeling I should be doing something else. Like right now. Laundry. Dishes. Studying. Arrrrr... (good thing I've gotten very good at ignoring this feeling)

Changing oneself is harder than changing other people.
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Joined: 2002.09
Post: #11
[wondering why I'm reading this thread instead of doing something constructive]

Measure twice, cut once, curse three or four times.
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Posts: 72
Joined: 2004.06
Post: #12
I'm also sad to see you go. But, as others have said, I admire your courage :-). All this reminds me of something my Piano teacher said to me the other day. He's a bit of an odd guy but most of the time he is quite wise, almost surprisingly so.

He said "Don't let there be 'oughts'. Don't think that you ought to play something right. Just play and trust in yourself that it will come out right." (Ok, so I completely rephrased that :-)). But, I think what he said can be applied to life; You ought to spend more time doing cultural things. Instead of doing what you ought to do in life just do life and trust that what you do is the right thing. If you can't trust your mind, what can you trust?

That might not have made much sense. Read it though again a few times and if it still doesn't make sense then just ignore what I said :-D.

"So long and thanks for all the fish" - In memory of Douglas Adams.
My Site
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Posts: 70
Joined: 2002.07
Post: #13
Cut out sleep. Really, it's a vast bulk of your time. Voila! More time.

That's the problem with most coders -- they only look at optimizations on a small level (stop watching TV) then a big level (stop sleeping.)

[>] Brian
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Posts: 522
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #14
Happy Trails, Spaz. ;-)


p.s. I doubt anyone will get the reference.
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Posts: 776
Joined: 2003.04
Post: #15
Good luck!

Opera & Ballet are not on the top of my list of priorities (actually, I don't think they are in it Wink ). But I have realized that game programming isn't high on it either.

In fact, I haven't programmed anything game related in almost a year Annoyed

The reason is probably the fact that I'm already spending a lot of time programming for a living and for my Thesis project, so I expect my interest on game-making, at least as a hobby, to eventually return (I have to finish my Thesis someday!).

I'd say that the biggest time-waster for me on Internet time is RSS, and I'm slowly removing feeds, but probably not fast enough. As for iDevGames, given that I check my email every day, it always lures me back with its email notifications of new posts Grin

ggadwa Wrote:Cut out sleep. Really, it's a vast bulk of your time. Voila! More time.

Way ahead of you! Smile
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