Often, actually frequently, while programming or designing, I'll find my mind wander into the jungle of other things going on in my life. Even though to the naked eye, I could just be really contemplating that next line of code...I'm really thinking about another project, worrying about an event, or contemplating existence.
A few years ago, my significant other and I went through Martin Seligman's positive psychology. It was after I'd panicked about potentially becoming a life insurance salesmen and impulsively quit the offer they'd given me ( after wasting 3 months studying miserably written insurance books). There was one thing he said that sticks with me still and is the crutch of how I regain focus:
"...Drive your fist into a wall, you won't be thinking negative thoughts then."
That's not a direct quote because I can't remember it off the top of my head.
No, I don't do this when I lose focus. BUT. I will knock the top of my desk with my knuckles and say what I should be focusing on. Usually ends up being something like:
knock fist on desk top
"Okay, this API... How do I get it to return X."
knock fist on desk top
"Okay, this app...what features should we focus on in the landing page."
Sometimes I'll wind up doing this multiple times in a row depending on how jumbled my mind is. When I'm not near a hard surface I'll either punch my left palm, or if I'm in public, pull down on my index finger with my thumb. And yeah, a little pain (obviously, don't injure yourself....) goes a long way, it'll focus your mind fast.
It Helps With Other Things
This actually turned into a habit when I was coming out of a depression. When I'd feel something coming on, well even now days when/if it happens to pop up, I'll do this. It's also really effective with worry too...since ya know, California taxes are soooooo fun to pay.
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J Cole Morrisonhttp://start.jcolemorrison.com
Startup Engineering, former Techstars Hackstar and AWS Solutions Architect. Based out of Sacramento, California.