I just returned from Judo Camp yesterday. It’s a week of immersion. The schedule is brutal enough, but adding on an extra class on coaching makes it even more so. There’s a total of 5 hours of mat time, which includes a bit of warmup at the beginning of each of the three sessions. I’m accustomed to practicing only 4.5 hours per week and I’m usually sore during that, so you can imagine what camp must do. Add an uncomfortable mattress, evening socializing time, and an early wake up call – all amounting to massive sleep deprivation – and you have a recipe for true pain. And yes, I pay for the privilege of attending this.
I got home yesterday, said hi to my wife and took a three hour nap. I woke up for a while, had dinner, watched Phelps win his 8th gold medal, then slept another 8 hours.
While not nearly as exhausting, it reminds me of the times that I have attended software conferences in the past. They, too, are days of total immersion in the ideas behind coding. The best part is that you get to stop actually coding for a week and clear your head. Then you get to start thinking about what you’re actually doing. Are you using the latest tools and techniques? Is there a toolkit or add-on library that can help you with what you were doing with reams of your own code?
It’s not just conferences either – books, magazines, and blogs can give you another perspective on what you may be doing that’s less than efficient. Take some time now and then to pick your head up from coding and look around at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Go to lunch with your colleagues and manager and see if you can find some improvements to the way you’re working.