I’m Not Rude, I’m Just Having a Flow

There is a thing that causes conflicts: we tend to think that everyone is like us. Except those, of course, who are stupid and annoying and TOTALLY DIFFERENT to us. But mainly, I am normal and all the other normal people are like me.

And even if you would feel like you’re anything but normal, you still forget that others are normal and abnormal in a different way than you would imagine or even can imagine yet.

People act in mysterious ways and say really confusing things and make very peculiar choices. Because we aren’t really being taught about the differences or how to learn to understand them, we settle for guessing why people act as they happen to do. We explain things from our own perspective, which is completely different, and a very fragile base for explaining the things and thoughts of others.

Why does she always snarl?

As a developer your work requires deep concentration and falling into a flow state – at least at its best. Deep work is a state, when, according to Kahneman, the system 2 of the brain takes over and works like hell. Deep thinking is physically uncomfortable, consumes the brain’s glucose storage, causes fast heart rate and high blood pressure, makes us tired and acquires a lot from us.

In counterbalance, it is a cocktail of five different hormones of pleasure. It is a deeply focused state. Suddenly we create something complicated and magnificent. As long as nobody interrupts us. And God help, if somebody does.

When an interruption occurs, it’s really hard to stay kind and calm. Returning from deep flow state back into this moment messes thoughts up. Straining the system 2 has left us feeling physically uncomfortable. If the work has been troublesome, we might be in a bad mood anyway. Yet, if the work has been flowing nicely, the interruption makes us loose our train of thought and drives us into irritation.

It’s funny cause it’s true

Never interrupt a programmer

It’s possible that others don’t know

Even though I do deep work myself  and I reach flow state while writing, I still didn’t realize how deep in complicated systems developers at their best, or worst, are. It’s possible that your boss, team leader, colleague or spouse doesn’t know. They don’t interrupt you out of the will to be mean or even out of indifference, but because they don’t understand what kind of damage they cause with it. Tell them!

Share this text or the comic above, or tell them with your own words. Do it preferably before the interruption happens and you’re pissed off and you wish to be left alone. Even if you have noice cancelling headphones on, you have your hood covering most of your face so that there’s only a half of a nose showing, you have a sign hanging on the door, flag in the pole and barbed wire around your working space, tell them anyway. It helps others understand what your work is like and what you need to be able to do it well.

Right? Or not? The conversation continues in Koodarikuiskaaja Slack!

Or what do you think?

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