Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Respect the Hoodie

Most people, and particularly nerds, and definitely me, have an environment that is particularly conducive to being productive. It's important to have things arranged properly around me, so that my mind isn't worried about anything else but the task at hand. I would like to direct your attention to the following passage, which conveys the concept beautifully:
What is your nerd’s hoodie? I write better when I’m wearing a hoodie. There’s something warm and cave-like about having my head surrounded — it gives me permission to ignore the world. Over time, those around me know that interrupting hoodie-writing is a capital offense. They know when I reach to pull the hoodie over my head that I’ve successfully discarded all distractions on the Planet Earth and am currently communing with the pure essence of whatever I’m working on.

It’s irrational and it’s delicious.

Your nerd has a hoodie. It’s a visual cue to stay away as they chase their Highs and your job is both identification and enforcement. I don’t know your nerds, so I don’t know what you’ll discover, but I am confident that these hoodie-like obsessions will often make no sense to you - even if you ask. Yes, there will always Mountain Dew nearby. Of course, we will never be without square pink Post-its.
h/t Rands in Repose

For me, I have to have the following things in place to really get in a groove:

1) Desk clean and tidy
2) Dual monitors up and running all the applications I will need
3) Headphones in, Pandora or Grooveshark playing
4) Shoes off
5) Legs crossed up on the chair
6) In the morning, coffee at hand. In the afternoon - water or sometimes a diet soda.

In that manner I can knock out three hours of work, and only look up because I have to take a bathroom break. (See: coffee or soda at hand.) These past couple days, I've been spending a good amount of hours in the groove. It feels good, like I'm really making some progress. And if people interrupt me while I working, it really irritates me. This morning I snapped at a coworker - then immediately apologized, of course. But he said - "Wow! I finally found how to make you irritated! I didn't think it was possible..."

Yeah, man, you've got to respect the hoodie... :)

What environment do you need to help you focus?


  1. Headphones for music when I'm working in a public place, and coffee is always helpful. But the headphones are most important - I can zone the world out pretty effectively with earbuds, even when there is no music playing!

  2. Baseball cap. It's my thinking cap. :) Preferably backwards, I am from southern CA after all. As I progress through grad school though, I feel more and more self-conscious about a hat indoors. egh.