I recently transitioned from a decade old DotNet Developer to a newbie Azure Cloud Engineer. I now write Infrastructure as a Code in Terraform, far away from my familiar C# realm. Being a newbie has it’s own flavours – excitement and challenges of a novice 🙂
Yesterday I was stuck in a rut – correcting my code, deploying & seeing it fail, recorrecting, deploying and seeing it fail again. I tried several times, walking away from my desk/problem and coming back (partly intending “The IT Crowd” pun – “Did you try turning it off and on?”). Unfortunately it didn’t help.
I was trying one approach to solve the problem and was endlessly trying to make it work. I glanced at my table clock, 3:40 PM. (yes, I have a table clock at my desk even though I can look at the time on my computer screen). I wanted this programming task to be finished by day end. I decided to take 20 more minutes to make it work. If it doesn’t, I abandon the approach and try another. 10 minutes into it and it worked! The azure pipeline turned green and my eyes were lit. Small joys in the lives of programmers 😉
I realised this is such a cool approach to get things done in a realistic fashion. I have decided to keep this idea closer and accessible to my brain – Time Boxing.
P.S. I’m not saying that I discovered the idea. It just struck me at that moment. Someone great might have of-course already discovered it, coined the term “Time Boxing”, supported by a research paper possibly😆
I started seeing so many situations where this idea could be used, several instances where we already use it subconsciously but didn’t realise.
- Time-Boxing home cleaning activity! When you decide 30mins or 1 hour for cleaning your room/kitchen/bathroom, it helps in planning and cleaning optimally and quicker rather than the slow motion cleaning or getting into the OCD cleaning – pulling out every rug and so on!
- Trying out a new sport. Give yourself enough time to try it out – first being excited about it, discovering the fun and the challenges. Then finding it hard or boring and reflecting on the challenges. Analyse if the sport still excites you or bores you, if it is worth your time and effort. Ultimately deciding whether to continue or give up.
Funny enough, this analogy closely relates with dating😛 Being excited about your date, the relationship, getting to know a new person. In doing things together you realise the challenges/conflicts faced due to the different personalities that you two have. You either are excited/motivated/determined to move ahead with the challenges of a mundane life or are bored with the loss of spark (duhhhh!!!). You either drag it for better or worse. In this situation, Time Boxing is helpful to see if this relation is meant for you two. NOTE – Please inform & involve your partner when you TimeBox your relation. Just don’t drop the bomb on your partner when your Time-Box has ticked away 😉
Time-boxing could also mean dedicating/planning a task for a finite amount of time or at a particular time in the day. Some examples could be – reading 30 mins daily, meditating 15 mins daily, being at the gym for at least 10 mins for starters. Doing this helps build an inertia, helping it slowly sink into our subconscious, our routine, auto-pilot rhythm. This classic approach of forming habits is very well explained by James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones”.
Time-boxing your trials at new things can also help by stopping us from falling into the spiral downfall.
- Trying a new series that your friend/acquaintance (Acquaintance – don’t know since when this word became part of my vocabulary) recommended? Give yourself the time to see if it matches your taste. 30mins into and already scrolling instagram reels? Let it go then. 2 seasons down and you are hooked? Keep going 🙂
- Trying a sci-fi book for the first time? Finding yourself organising your desk or cleaning the dressing table, just for 5 mins, every time you think of reading the book? Ask why you want to bring yourself to read this book? If it’s not your cup of tea, let it run down the drain. Make yourself a fresh cup of your favourite tea.
In conclusion, I’m not saying not to try new things. Of course, one should get out of their comfort zone and try new things and have new experiences. The discomfort might urge you to pull away. Stay put despite the initial discomfort. Go lengths to see if this is for you. If it starts to pull you down and grows more challenging than what you had foreseen, ask yourself the question “why do I want to do this? What value does it add, either to my life or to that of others?” When the why would be clear, you will find the motivation and the excitement will heighten surely 🙂
I tried time boxing to write this article, paid well no doubt. Nevertheless, I want to do it more often. Looking forward to making the habit of writing again as the “why” here is clear to me ❤️ ❤️