While this week was mostly typical for what I learned, the biggest lesson came just moments ago. I’ve learned I’m officially an adult!
I’m a card-carrying adult everyone! pic.twitter.com/Y3NCioNx9j— Max Antonucci (@Maxwell_Dev) March 15, 2019
This marks me checking off the three requirements to being an adult:
- Paying taxes
- Have too many business cards
- Act like you know what you’re doing
With that, I move on to the two big lessons from this week.
We Need Focused Playtime
It’s no secret that coding inspires burnout. There’s endless knowledge, changing tools, and the pressure to always be building. It’s easy to fall into doing so much work that one’s mind collapses under the weight and we can’t function at all.
But the importance of play has made me realize I should I should take my time at play seriously too. Not to say I should never have fun, but I should be more selective with what I do to relax. Playing in something I don’t enjoy doesn’t recharge me, and just makes me felt I’ve wasted time.
This all stems from one game I’ve debated on buying for days now: Minecraft, the most popular sandbox game in all of gaming existence right now.
On the one hand, I like games where you’re creative and can explore huge worlds. On the other hand, it’s loaded with tedious tasks and doesn’t bring a big sense of accomplishment or excitement. I went back and forth for so long before realizing if I really wanted to invest in the game, I wouldn’t feel this conflicted. Now it’s firmly off my gaming list.
If I’m going to take my playtime seriously, I need my play to meet at one of two key criteria:
- Pushes my mind’s boundaries. It’s why my favorite books revolve around politics, philosophy, or nerdy thrillers like The Martian. I just started The Hunt for Red October, and at page 25 I already love the plot’s layers and complexity.
- Makes me think creatively. It’s why I love building things at MakeHaven, a local maker space where I mostly use the laser cutter. It’s great for making prints, woodblocks, decorations, gifts, and lots of ideas I haven’t tried yet. Unlike Minecraft, finishing a laser cutter project brings a real sense of accomplishment and a tangible end result.
Our playtime is about having fun, but we should take it seriously enough to make sure we’re having all the fun we can, while we can. Otherwise it’s not fun, it’s just time letting our minds get lazy.
As for my video games, I think I’ll invest in some visual novel-esque games. I’ve always enjoyed games heavy on story with some decision and puzzle elements mixed in. They make me think differently, both in enjoying them and in solving their mysteries.
Balance Explore and Exploit for Learning
A while back I wrote an article on the importance of taking notes. I don’t trust my brain to remember everything it reads, so taking notes for future reference matters.
But I’m realizing that lately, I may have taken this focus too far. When I have lots of articles on my “to read” list, thinking I have to take notes on all of them can make finding the motivation to read them a lot tougher. Taking that many notes demands time and effort, which I don’t often have enough of when I have a chance to read them. So I put it off, thinking I’ll find a better time to do all that reading. That time never comes.
This makes me think of the “Explore or Exploit” dilemma, where one most decide between exploring new options or making use of resources on already knows. It’s a balance between trying to find better options and pulling the most from ones you already know are good.
So for all the articles on my list, I’m labelling each as either “Explore” or “Exploit.” Explore articles are larger ones I haven’t read in much detail, and plan to skim through to find new ideas to investigate and take note of. Exploit articles are ones I’ve already read, or know the content of well, that I know have good knowledge and will pull notes from.
So depending on my time and energy, I can read and learn briskly or in-depth. Most of all, it’ll help remove excuses for doing no learning at all.
Your Tweet of Zen
Brave? I'm a dude writing text in a box. What's the worst that could happen?— @firstname.lastname@example.org (@heydonworks) March 12, 2019