The Zen and Art of Writing Code

Building products is pretty hard, but I think writing code is easier. At least for senior engineers. By now, you should know your tools. You should know how to scaffold, how optimize, how to debug. So why is it that some engineers are so much more productive than others? Why is it that some engineers can build a feature in a day, while others take a week? Is it because they code faster? Is it because they're smarter? Is it because they're more experienced? Maybe. But we can't all just flip a switch and git gud. So what can we do?

The Tortoise and the Hare: Quantity and Output

Let's talk about some hypothetical characters, Alice and Bob. You probably know a Bob. The guy codes so freaking fast. He responds to slack messages right away. He'll work late till after dinner. Bob is a "beast" and just pumps out features.

Alice is different. She's a bit slower. She's patient. She's composed. And she needs to write things down before she starts coding.

9 out of ten times, Alice is going to create more business value than Bob. Bob might forget to share a progress update with a stakeholder and go down the wrong path for a day. He might overlook a user journey that completely changes how he should have built the page. He might not have organized his code well, and now he's spending time refactoring. Meanwhile, Alice is taking her time.

In the short term, it looks like Bob is shipping more- faster, but Alice is on her way to eclipse him.

Enter the Zen of Writing Code

It's 7pm and the sun has set. You had dinner with your partner. You head into your office, dim the lights, put your chihuahua in her bed and sit at your desk. You open spotify and press play on your ambient playlist. You Open VS Code and put your hands on the keys. You take a moment to listen to the song that's playing. You really listen. You begin to vibe and bob your head. Your foucs returns to your vs code and time starts to fly. You're in the Zen of Writing Code. Most importantly, you're calm. You're composed. This optimal state of mind for building amazing software.

Serendiptious Engineering

Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. When you're in this flow state, serendipity is more likely to occur. You're more likely to stumble upon a solution to a problem. You know that cool "nice-to-have" feature that was at the bottom of your list cause it was gonna take forever to make? In flow state, you bust it out in no time. And its not because you're a genius. It's because you're in the zone. You're in the flow. You're in the Zen of Writing Code. And things you weren't planning on doing, are going to start happening for free.

Code like Alice

With patience. With calmness. Not with 25 tabs open and 6 terminal splits, furiously swipping through windows and refreshing your app. Code like you're Kobe Bryant. Make it look effortless, and it will become that.

Everyone will have their own way of finding this happy state, and its up to you to find it. Once you do, you'll not only be ouputing more, but you'll also have fun doing it.