The Big “Mo”

The last seven days have been some of the most productive of my professional career. We had been having a problem with the underlying code for our new product for a long time. The bugs we found were very hard to track down and even harder to fix. Every time we fixed one it seemed to create three more.

A week ago it finally reached a head and we were forced to re-write the entire way it is handled. My designer came up with a new approach and I sat down to implement it.

Over the course of seven days I caught what can only big described as the Big Mo: momentum. Everything fell into place, every trick I tried worked exactly as I had hoped it would, every search term I typed into Google returned the answers I was looking for.

If you don’t code you may not understand what I’m getting at. It’s the equivalent of a baseball 6 for 6 with four home runs day. It’s the equivalent of taking your dead car to the mechanic and finding out it was a $0.50 screw that he replaced for free [1].

As my coding partner in crime said, when you’ve got momentum, keep going. So I did.

I wrote code for seven straight days. When I wasn’t writing code I was thinking about writing code. When I slept I dreamed about code.

Last Wednesday, after seven days, I completed the last piece of the primary puzzle and shut down my code editor for the night. I was exhausted. But it didn’t hit me until Thursday morning. I was far more than exhausted. I was burned out.

So I shut things down for a few days to refresh. I had meetings all day Thursday and worked on other things Friday and didn’t turn on the computer all weekend.

Once upon a time I could write code 60-80 hours per week for months on end. But now I turn 40 a month from today and I just can’t put in intensive weeks like that any more. I still work constantly, but writing code is a different story.

I’ve always been a big momentum guy. I don’t want to stop once I get on a roll. In my forties, though, I hope to do a better job of controlling that instinct.

[1] Actually happened to me once.