The Artists Way

March 24th, 2013

Is comparing software engineering to a career as an artist way off base? What does the term ‘disruptive innovation’ mean to you?

One of the basic tenants of wisdom in The Artists Way is to take good care of yourself.  This book is known in the art community as a guide toward unlocking creativity.  I have seen these same strategies espoused when folks discuss how to enhance productivity.

What the hell does becoming a more creative person have to do with productivity and becoming a better programmer?  I guess that depends upon your definition of ‘better’.

No one expects a composer to sit at the piano 60 hours a week churning out symphonies. Prolific writers don’t sit at their desks for endless hours either. The idea is ridiculous.

Well documented is the fact that productivity goes down when the work week exceeds 40 hours. Programming is hard mental work and sitting for prolonged periods of time doesn’t help either.

I have spent the last few years exhausting myself trying to “level up” as a rubyist. I can honestly say that my best work and ah-ha! moments occurred when I was awake and refreshed. And when my mentors were awake and refreshed as well.

One of my favorite exercises from the book is The Artist’s Date. It’s a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you to spark whimsy and encourage play.

How many times have you solved that vexing problem the moment you stepped away from your desk? When do your best solutions pop into your brain? When you are tired, beat down and depressed?

Thanks to Luminosity, I have first hand, tangible evidence that my brain improves with a regular diet of sleep, creativity and connection with my family.

This is the part where I share my personal brain performance index starting from a deeply stressful, sleepless period in my life to a much happier place. These are sans numbers of course but you get the idea…


This success is due to a strong effort on my part to truly seek out work life balance. I’m a better mom and a better programmer today. What steps have you taken in your life to not only become a better and more productive programmer, but to become a better YOU?

Entry Filed under: Professional,Ruby on Rails

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