Human beings are strong pattern machines. Like any machine, we sometimes need updating and fixing.
I picked up the phrase thought code from a reddit post I read last week. It’s a perfect analogy for how we work. Our brains find patterns. We develop habits easily and break them with only a great deal of effort. This can leave even the stupidest habits ingrained in us far too long. If we don’t debug our internal code, we’ll never change.
Everyone has stupid pieces of code they need to get rid of, but we don’t always know how. This means a ton of wasted time and resources when we could be doing things simply.
In other words, we need to debug our own code– our own thought processes and habits.
Personally, one of my most pointless patterns is that when I save any document, I Cmd-Tab into Firefox so quickly it makes my head spin. It happens without me thinking. Next thing I know, I’m reading news, Twitter, or otherwise wasting my time instead of working.
This simple patterns causes an easy half-hour of slacking and distraction per day.
How do I debug this, or any, program? Easy– I break it. If I cause an error to occur, make the inefficiency evident and startle myself into awareness of it.
I can do this by closing all other programs (so I can’t Cmd-Tab into anything at all), or by shutting off my web connection (with Freedom). This makes me notice what I’m doing and laugh at myself a bit. After many broken patterns like this, the awareness of it becomes stronger, and the habit vanishes.
Another piece of stupid code is my avoidance of certain things on my todo list, such as emails I need to send. I break this, once again, by getting verbose with myself– in other words, literal. I ask myself, out loud, what are you afraid of? This jolts me into realizing that there’s nothing to worry about, which frees me to get it done.
The key to success and efficiency in any program, including your own, is recognizing inefficiencies and fixing them. I believe the first, and most important, step in this is awareness of your own mistakes.
The second– the easy part– is coming up with something that’s slightly better. Iterate this process, and the incremental improvement will keep you moving, progressing, and maybe even happy. But none of that happens without seeing what you are doing.