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The time I Lost my passion for coding

Let’s delve into a bit of personal history. I still vividly remember the day I first learned about code. I was at school, and a classmate showed me a website he had created. It was a simple webpage with text and images against a solid background. Despite its simplicity, it was captivating. I asked him, “How did you create that?” His response, “I coded the page with HTML,” intrigued me. I questioned, “HTML, what!?”. He kindly shared more insights, sparking my curiosity. Later that day, when I returned home, I began my journey into the world of coding.

The beginner enthusiast

During the following years, I spent significant time practicing coding, designing, and playing Counter-Strike (maybe in a different order). HTML and CSS first, then PHP and MySQL later on. Let’s be honest, I struggled like everyone else, but it was always a fun time. Thank you to OpenClassroom (formerly Le Site du Zéro) for providing comprehensive tutorials.

When I was 17, my mother was worried about my future because of my average school performance. She took me to a guidance counselor who asked about my interests outside of school. Being a typical teenager, I replied with a hint of indifference; I enjoy playing video games and making websites. After researching, the counselor recommended a high school that offered courses in Development, Design, Video, Art, and Computers. I was astounded to learn that the things I enjoyed doing for fun had the potential to become a career. Without any hesitation, I applied to it.

The highschool prelude

I had a lot of fun during my two years at this school. Although, I won’t deny that there were some tedious subjects, such as communication and networks. The experience strengthened my academic knowledge and opened me to new topics. After that, I joined the Gobelins School in Paris, which helped me specialize further in development. Most importantly, it challenged me further by allowing me to study alongside highly competent students.

During that time, I completely immersed myself in Flash and ActionScript. This led me to a surge of creativity, allowing me to make websites with advanced interactions, animations, and even some 3D. It was an incredible feeling like I had acquired a superpower. After obtaining my degree, I landed my first job at Grouek. A digital creation studio specialized in developing entertaining advertising websites.

The Professional growth

I spent six years working in this company, full of twists and turns. However, it was marked by beautiful encounters that helped me grow from being a simple Flash developer to a lead developer, creative technologist, and technical director for a small team. Although I won’t go into detail about my transition from Flash to JavaScript during that time in this article, it was a journey that taught me valuable life lessons. Spoiler alert: never get too attached to one programming language! Remember, it’s just a tool among many others.

During those years, I worked extensively, often pulling all-nighters to meet project deadlines. Still, it didn’t bother me because I was passionate, and the rewards outweighed the fatigue. As I took on more responsibilities and started managing other developers, I became aware of my responsibility over their working hours. Although I didn’t have control over everything, I wondered how to improve the situation.

The leadership pivot

I began conducting research to optimize our processes. Afterward, I decided to assign a lead developer to each project. This freed up more time to focus on my management responsibilities and be more present during the pre-sale phase. By doing this, I could suggest more straightforward solutions earlier or raise the need for more time if required.

Additionally, I implemented a framework and some basic collective guidelines to make it easier to transfer developers between projects in case of workload changes. However, I unintentionally limited myself to other possibilities by focusing solely on one framework. Fortunately, I had a great team who challenged my choices and helped me to discover alternative solutions.

The organized Freelancer

After years of dedicated service, I decided to become a freelancer and focus solely on coding. I began reading books, watching videos, and discussing with other freelancers to improve my productivity.

I have made an effort to improve my estimation process. In the past, I used to only estimate by pages, often resulting in estimation errors. I now ensure that every detail, such as sections, components, animations, interactions, etc., is included. If the estimation for any of these exceeds half a day, I further break it down into smaller tasks. This method of task subdivision also helps to avoid the problem of procrastination that often arises when dealing with large tasks.

I have also changed my approach to project development. Previously, I would work on one page at a time, doing its features, integration, and animations before moving on to the next page. However, at the beginning or middle of a project, I often underestimate the importance of not wasting time polishing excessively and wrongly believe I could catch up with delays later. So now, I start by working on the functionalities of all pages first, then integrating them, and finally adding animations to all of them. This way, I am more aware of how much time I have left at the end of the project when I start animations and can confidently deliver a fully functional, integrated site with sufficient animation polishing by the planned deadline.

Furthermore, I have learned about Deep Work, which aims to schedule specific, highly focused time slots for a particular task. In truth, many developers already use deep work to some extent without knowing it. However, I have reinforced this practice by, among many others, disabling all notifications during my work periods, using noise-canceling headphones to block out surrounding conversations and scheduling calls in the late morning or early afternoon to avoid interruptions in the middle of the day.

Further down in the rabbit hole

I also discovered the Pomodoro Technique. This method involves working for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. These 30-minute intervals are called Pomodoros. Each task is estimated in terms of Pomodoro numbers. If a task requires too many Pomodoros, it should be subdivided into smaller tasks. These are the fundamental concepts of the method. Please let me know in the comments section if you want a more detailed explanation.

The ultimate goals are to improve estimations, find motivation to work on challenging tasks, be more effective during work periods, understand one’s capacities, visualize progress through the number of validated Pomodoros, and not rely solely on the number of completed tasks.

The pitfall of productivity

At that time, I used to believe that more processes would help me accomplish more. However, I eventually realized that productivity had taken priority over passion. Instead of enjoying coding cool stuff, I was focused on how to ship as quickly as possible. As a result, I became less motivated to code, and even though I forced myself to do more work, I didn’t feel like I was achieving more in the end.

I also had lost the flow. That state where you are so absorbed in your work that you lose track of time and want to continue until the task is completed. Recently, I discovered that this happens more often when a task is not too simple to avoid boredom but not too difficult to prevent frustration.

Breaking Free from constraints

I used to think that turning my passion into a profession had taken the joy out of it. I decided to allocate more time for personal projects. I created an application to teach children about bird songs, worked on generative art pieces, and recently started developing a real-time multiplayer game.

I realized that I was experiencing more fun daily. Indeed, working on a personal project was helpful, but what really made a difference was not having a strict timeline, which allowed me to relax. I coded as I did in my early days, without any strict rules, not worrying if I spent more time on a particular aspect. This has been a liberating experience for me.

After realizing that, I also decided to reduce some of the constraints in my professional projects. My decision has proven to be the right one, as it has significantly increased my personal satisfaction with my work without affecting my productivity.

Crafting a personalized approach

I don’t intend to discredit the effectiveness of the concepts mentioned earlier. In fact, they’ve become an essential part of my toolkit. I use these methodologies selectively as required, allowing me to bring enjoyment to each task. For example, when I encounter a challenging task that drains my motivation, I turn to the Pomodoro Technique, embracing 25-minute intervals. However, when making smooth progress, I don’t limit myself to any time constraints, fostering a flow state.

The secret finally lies in discovering a delicate harmony between efficiency and enjoyment.


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