That is right. Today is officially ‘Goof-Off Day’ for me. The title may be slightly misleading in that it implies a deliberate attempt at mooching off a fine wednesday work day. In fact, if it were indeed a story right out of The Daily Wtf, it would definitely be so. However, I reiterate (at pain of sounding redundant but it’s just the goofing-off potion at work) that it is a natural progression of events. Now onto a more serious discussion of this phenomenon.
In every workplace, but especially in an industry placing so much emphasis on “thinking”, it is inevitable that every so often, even the most assiduous mind-worker has to take a break. No compulsion, no rebellion, no coercion. Our industry is characterized by periodic variations of extreme stess and complete leisure (with a general slope of gradations in between of course but not so pronouncedly as the two end-points). For a complete and statistics-backed analysis of such matters pertinent to Software Management, what better resource to point to than Peopleware. I first came across this title when I was reading through the interesting (but not so useful – my opinion strictly!) book called Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent . He had highly recommended this book but the title of the book put me off initially. It reminded me of those weird and untractable academic Software Engineering books from my college days. I hated them. I positively despised, abhorred and reviled them. In hindsight, my revulsion seems to be justified as I am yet to see one positive use of anything mentioned in those fat books. The one and only Software Engineering I would recommend is The Mythical Man Month. And now, Peopleware. You had better go read that book. Now. Afore you get mired in this goofy business! As I was saying (pray, indeed this is a day for digressions!) every software engineer inevitably finds that he needs a day now and then to just plain do anything but his main work. It can be anything – chatting, surfing, going to the gym, dozing off in the dorm, writing blogs (as I am doing right now!), catching up on news, handling personal calls (which I am definitely not doing right now), going out for a stroll, playing some football (that’s soccer for you Uncle Sam), planning for the evening ahead, meditating or just plain staying in stasis like a zombie (nothing different from the status quo for some). To demonstrate what I mean, let me recount the activities that I have engaged in today – in strictly chronological order:
1. Reached office… made my favorite cup of stomach-burning black coffee… glanced at the headlines.
2. Logged onto system… checked mails for half-an-hour… checked calendar for any meetings.
3. Switched on GTalk, Jabber, MSN Messenger… most folks are green! (how ironical in some ways)
4. Turned JBuilder on… stared at the code that I had been hacking yesterday… closed it immediately.
5. Started two chat boxes… reddit, the daily wtf, new.google.com and youTube… looks promising!
6. Some snide remarks in reddit… messaging some ‘special’ ladies… complaining about the A.C.
7. Discussed Wimbledon with a friend…tried an archery MS-Excel game…tried turning JBuilder on…again.
8. Ran yesterday’s code…crashed the JVM… end of line for JBuilder for today… cleared teammate’s doubts.
9. Called up a few friends…planned for the evening…got to beat the traffic early.
10. Reminisced on the mysteries of life…no answers…forget it… let me go for a nice stroll.
11. Lunch done… cannot work now! …listen to cranium-cracking music for a while (read: an hour).
12. Too tired to work…coffee downstairs with a friend across the floor…the usual banter.
13. Seems like I’m goofing off major today…well, maybe I deserve it!…hey, I could write a blog on that!
And here I am – eating ten minutes of your time to compensate for the day that I have mooched off… and enjoyed! Tom and Timothy (of Peopleware fame) would certainly approve! The fact is that it is inevitable that one has to just do anything but that which brings in the moolah at the end of the month. In some ways it clears up the head, refreshes the spirit and also it is healthy to take a break on official time! Try it out… works wonders… and the fact is, if you tell me that you do not mooch off at all – I’ll show you a horse that can bark in German!
So folks, how do you goof off your day?