Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Blacksmith secret that a "junior" dev uses everyday to stay mentally sharp

For the longest time I wasn't going to admit to anyone that I actually do this much less show you. 4 1/2 months ago when I was shoeing horses for a living, whenever a client was late or didn't show up I would take a golf ball and bounce it off of my 2 1/2 pound rounding hammer to pass the time.

After learning to code and getting hired as a "junior" developer I gave away all of my shoeing gear and equipment to other local blacksmiths and farriers. The entire first month at work as a "junior" dev I would always go home with a headache. I noticed that after lunch I would feel a mental "coding fog",  the stress of a whole new environment and constantly trying to learn as much and as fast as possible was burning out my brain.

One day at lunch I was feeling mentally "tired" and thought back to how I would always feel mentally "sharp" after doing "hammer drills" for 10 minutes while waiting for clients to show up.

I looked around the office found a small hammer and a golf ball that our front end manager had.
I went to an empty conference room and  after 15 minutes of practicing bouncing the golf ball off of the hammer and switching different hands right then left, right then left I felt amazing! I went back to my desk feeling extremely refreshed and very focused. Since then, at lunch I sneak off into a conference room and do 10 -15 minutes worth off "hammer drills"

Every night I work on small projects on my own time to try and improve my coding skills, whenever I get stuck with something or find myself stressing out and having to read something multiple times, I do 5 minutes of "hammer drills" and am able to concentrate much better.

Laugh if you want, yes it's kind of awkward/embarrassing, but there are lots of studies on how "juggling" makes your brain grow and become more focused due to "active stress". I don't know, what I do know is that it works for me, and I thought I would let others know so if you are feeling crazy "coding" stress you could give it a shot.


 Don't knock it until you try it! Though if you haven't been shoeing horses your whole life, you might want to try using a wider hammer like a mallet the kind you use for knocking in tent pegs. Give it 10 minutes next time you're feeling stressed and see if it doesn't help you focus better.

Keep coding peeps!