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Brain Science

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Dave Bailey medium.dave-bailey.com

The art of not taking things personally

Yes, to all of this! Dave Bailey, author of The Founder Coach, shared ten useful patterns to help nurture more generous interpretations of others’ behaviors.

Reading this makes me really miss producing Brain Science.

When we encounter emotions and behaviours that don’t make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t have all the information. And in the absence of information, we tend to assume the worst.

‘Emotional generosity’ is the ability to see past behaviours that we don’t understand and proactively look for compassionate ways to explain them. It’s easy to do this for young children. If they start crying or throwing a tantrum, we wonder whether they are hungry, or tired, or hurt. Sadly, it’s harder to do this for adults — and especially our co-workers. And yet a more generous interpretation of their difficult behaviour often ends up being right.

Maya Kaczorowski mayakaczorowski.com

Burning out and quitting

Thank you for sharing this Maya. These pull-quotes resonated with me.

I don’t think I noticed I was burnt out until early February 2021, almost six months later. Honestly, realizing it was kind of a relief. I hadn’t noticed how bad it had gotten. A few weeks later, I quit my job. And then a new, different kind of struggle started. Not knowing what to do with myself, or how to recover.

So why did I burn out? I don’t know. It’s not a single thing - like a specific work stressor - that caused my burnout. It was the never-ending treadmill of yet another day’s worth of useless meetings, with a TODO list that only grows, while you get less and less done on it every day. There isn’t a single moment that causes burnout, but there is a single moment when you realize it - that what you’re doing is impossible, insurmountable, unachievable - and that you don’t care. You can’t do it. And you don’t want to anyways.

I desperately needed to enjoy things again - so I could remember what that was like - so I could get back to enjoying ‘productive’ things too. Remember that producing recovery, relaxation, or joy for yourself is still being productive.

Justin Pot zapier.com

Actual impostors don't get impostor syndrome

I read this post a week back and it keeps resonating with me.

…actual impostors don’t experience impostor syndrome. They don’t wonder if they’re qualified for their current position, or if they measure up with their peers. They just lie, lie, lie, until they have access to what they want, then they take it—and leave.

Does your team or company normalize talking about impostor syndrome?

One thing a con artist will never do, in my experience, is openly admit that they’re conning you. They will deny, lie, and generally talk in circles around the truth. So if you want to know, one hundred percent, that you’re not an impostor, do something no impostor would ever do: out yourself.

Stripe Icon Stripe

Guide to managing founder stress

Stripe Atlas has a wide array of guides to running an internet business that are totally open and free for everyone. This guide, written by Dr. Sherry Walling (a clinical psychologist), on “managing founder stress” covers everything from running smart (not just hard), coping with chronic stress, mastering the ups and downs, and a reminder that as a founder you are not alone.

If you like this guide, then you’ll probably be a fan of my podcast Founders Talk too.

Ben Johnson github.com

Open source, but closed to contributions

Maintainer burden is real.

As the author of BoltDB, I found that accepting and maintaining third party patches contributed to my burn out and I eventually archived the project. … Small contributions typically required hours of my time to properly test and validate them.

I am grateful for community involvement, bug reports, & feature requests. I do not wish to come off as anything but welcoming, however, I’ve made the decision to keep this project closed to contributions for my own mental health and long term viability of the project.

The simple solution is for GitHub to allow repo owners to restrict which users can interact with the pull requests feature for a given repo. This would be a great usage of the teams feature already in place.

Ben McCormick benmccormick.org

Are you headed towards burnout?

How do you know if you’re on your way to burning out? Ben McCormick has one question he uses when he’s concerned that himself or one of his teammates is headed down a path to burnout:

If you take the pace & quality of the last 2 months of your life and repeated it again and again, how long would you be able to sustain it?

As we begin the process of closing out the year, and what a year it has been, and start planning for what might be in 2021 — consider how this question impacts you now and how you can shape your future with this question in mind.

Gergely Orosz blog.pragmaticengineer.com

Developer advice to self

Gergely Orosz shared advice that he’d give to himself 10 years ago. It’s interesting how hindsight is always 20/20…it’s easier to connect the dots looking back vs looking forward.

As I look back to over a decade ago, there are a few things I wish I’d started doing sooner. Habits that could have helped made me grow faster and in a more focused way. This is the advice I’d give my younger self, who has just landed their first professional software engineering job.

1. Take the time to read two books per year on software engineering … Every time I took the time to slowly and thoroughly read a recommended book on software engineering, I leveled up. By properly reading, I mean taking notes, talking chapters through with others, doodle diagrams, trying out, going back, and re-reading…

Mireille Reece, PsyD changelog.com/posts

Self-care should result in more margin

With constant change being our new normal these days, I cannot attest enough to the importance of implementing the habit of self-care. The biggest reason, aside from the sheer benefit of taking care of yourself, is the crucial by-product of margin that we gain. However, the challenge is that we often know what’s important for our health, yet we fail to incorporate these “knowns” into our daily lives.

In this post I cover what self-care is and the ways to establish habits that can help you create more margin in your life.

Brain Science changelog.com/posts

Poor communication is the primary reason systems and relationships fail

It has become even more clear to me during the era of COVID-19 that poor communication is the reason systems and relationships fail. Every time I’ve failed to get what myself, my team, or a community wanted out of an engineering team was because I neglected to communicate why and how it would be impactful to them in a digestible way.

In this post, I share a few lessons learned as a non-technical launching hardware and software products over the last decade. We’ll explore tactics and skills teams can use to communicate more effectively.

Matthieu Cneude thevaluable.dev

Cognitive biases in software development

If you like the topics we cover on Brain Science, then you’ll love this post from Matthieu Cneude based on this study and his own experiences.

Depending on the project, the impact of biases can be completely different, from insignificant to dangerous for the survival of the project itself. … Come with me, I will show you what our enemy looks like, and how to bring it down with a sharp mind.

Productivity deprocrastination.co

How to stop procrastinating by using the Fogg Behavior Model

According to FBM, there are three things we need to do something:

  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Trigger

The key is that we need to have all three at the same time in order to act. Since our problem is procrastination, we’ll focus on how we fail at each one of these.

There’s more good discussion about overcoming the sources of procrastination on Brain Science’s episodes on navigating procrastination and being indistractible.

Productivity cbc.ca

There's a reason we procrastinate (and it's not laziness)

On an upcoming episode of Brain Science we’ll be talking about Indistractable by Nir Eyal. One of the larger topics of being distracted is procrastination. In the book, Nir says procrastination “originates from a need to escape psychological discomfort,” and in this post they say…

Procrastination is driven by our desire to avoid difficult emotions…

Pretty close, right? Read this if you want a nice primer on the concept of procrastination, what’s inducing it, and how to overcome it. Else, for the non-tldr, just read Indistractable so you can follow along with us during that upcoming episode.

Harvard Business Review Icon Harvard Business Review

The two things killing your ability to focus

I’ll save you a click if you’re only curious what those two things are:

1️⃣ connected devices
2️⃣ meetings

You and your business will benefit greatly if you can address these issues. You and everyone on your team will enjoy yourselves more and accomplish more. The data echoes what our common sense tells us: We need to carve out more time for ourselves if we want to remain focused and effective at work. These five daily practices will help.

Jose Browne josebrowne.com

On coding, ego, and attention

How you think has everything to do with the quality of your thinking. Great writing Jose 👏

If being a good software engineer means being a good thinker, then becoming a better one should mean improving the way we think… right? Well, no little shame in saying that it’s taken me more than a decade of coding to get this. To finally focus my attention on improving the way I think instead of learning yet another library, framework or programming language.

At a certain point, the things that got in the way of my growth had nothing to do with problem solving and everything to do with what was actually happening in my mind when I was engaged should have been engaging with a problem.

Culture kevq.uk

Is dark mode such a good idea?

Kev Quirk shares his thoughts on dark mode and links to various research on the science behind it.

I’ve decided to stop using dark mode across all of my devices, because research suggests that going to the dark side ain’t all that. … But after doing some research on dark vs light, I’ve made the decision to stop using dark mode everywhere. Here’s why…

Is dark mode such a good idea?

Design growth.design

101 cognitive biases & principles that affect your UX

This list is deep and (of course) the UX is well-considered. The author provides definitions of the biases as well as real-world examples of them in action.

Every time users interact with your product, they:

🙈 Filter the information
🔮 Seek the meaning of it
⏰ Act within a given time
💾 Store bits of the interaction in their memories

So to improve your user experience, you need to understand the biases & heuristics affecting those four decision-cycle steps.

Dan Shipper superorganizers.substack.com

Stop trying to make hard work easy

Dan Shipper shared an interview with Nir Eyal (behavioral design expert who taught at Stanford and author of Hooked and Indistractable) — Nir explains how to cope even when work is hard.

“When most people talk about habits, what they’re saying is, ‘I want something that’s difficult to become effortless. I want the benefits but I don’t want it to be hard,” Nir said to me in an interview a few weeks ago. “Well, I have news for you: some things are just hard. There’s no way of getting around it.”

The problem is, when we expect work to be effortless and it ends up being difficult, we often blame ourselves. So the very tools we’re using to make work easier, can instead make it easier for us to give up.

Culture florio.dev

A letter to myself as a fresh software engineer

This “letter to self” from Luca Florio is a great example putting down in writing what you’re optimizing for and front loading (which we talk about on Brain Science) so that future you can make choices more easily.

Dear Self,

You just graduated and you are ready to start your career in the IT field. I cannot spoiler anything, but I assure you it will be an interesting ride. I’m writing you this letter because I want to give you some advice that will help you be a better professional. Nothing you won’t learn by yourself in the next few years, but it is something that I wish someone had told me when I started my career. They are not ordered by any means and are all equally important.

Darya Zabelina news.uark.edu

Caffeine boosts problem-solving ability but not creativity

I’m literally drinking my coffee as I write this. ☕️ 🤓

Like many of our readers, I love coffee. It’s a crucial part of my boot-up process, and it would be very difficult to start my day without at least one cup. Also, like many of our readers, I play a role here at Changelog that not only requires me to have great problem-solving abilities, but also to be creative. Thankfully, according to this study from Darya Zabelina (Assistant Professor at University of Arkansas), I can “keep drinking my coffee.”

For the study, 80 volunteers were randomly given either a 200mg caffeine pill, equivalent to one strong cup of coffee, or a placebo. They were then tested on standard measures of convergent and divergent thinking, working memory and mood. In addition to the results on creativity, caffeine did not significantly affect working memory, but test subjects who took it did report feeling less sad.

“The 200mg enhanced problem solving significantly, but had no effect on creative thinking,” said Zabelina. “It also didn’t make it worse, so keep drinking your coffee; it won’t interfere with these abilities.”

On convergent vs divergent thinking…

In the paper, Zabelina differentiates “convergent” from “divergent” thinking. The former is defined as seeking a specific solution to a problem, for example, the “correct” answer. The latter is characterized by idea generation where a large set of apt, novel or interesting responses would be suitable.

Productivity thecut.com

7 reasons why you’re always tired

This is not my normal beat, but I thought it might help those of us (most of us, right?) fighting fatigue. Knowing why, after all, is half the battle.

To understand more about the different types of fatigue, I spoke to Dr. Jaclyn Tolentino, a primary care physician at Parsley Health, as well as Dr. Richard Firshein, a general practitioner and insomnia specialist who runs the Firshein Center in Manhattan. Here are the most common culprits of exhaustion, and how to treat them.

I would imagine many of us fall victim to more than one of these, but the ones we likely share are #3 (stress tired) and #5 (bad sleep hygiene). Maybe a Brain Science episode on this subject is in order?

Culture flaviocopes.com

How to work from home without going crazy

We plan to dig deep into this topic on Brain Science (listen and subscribe here), but until then, here’s some great advice from Flavio Copes based on many years of working remotely.

I’m an introvert, I am independent and I like doing things alone. This post is heavily influenced by this fact, and you might find that what I say is madness if you’re an extrovert who needs people around to be productive.

The first suggestion I have for you is to have a dedicated office space. It does not need to be in another building, but it might be necessary if you have lots of people in your house. I do have a dedicated room, with a door I can close. It’s very helpful because it avoids.. interruptions.

Joe McGrath raptori.dev

Impostor Syndrome vs the Dunning-Kruger effect

In our transcripts, we have 44 results for “Impostor Syndrome” and just 2 results for “Dunning-Kruger effect”. This makes me think that we’re either not that familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect, or we don’t talk about it enough. So, what is the Dunning-Kruger effect?

In a word: overconfidence. It is a cognitive bias which leads people to believe they are more competent than they are, due to inability to objectively evaluate oneself.

People experiencing the Dunning-Kruger effect are unable to recognize that they are not performing to the standards they think they are. As with impostor syndrome, they feel this way in spite of any evidence, and it can lead to chronic problems in all walks of life.

Culture blog.alexellis.io

The five pressures of leadership

Being a leader is tough and leads to burn-out at least once or maybe even a few times. But why? If you’ve been building, leading, or maintaining open source, then this post from Alex Ellis should be on your “to read” list.

In this post I want to introduce the reader to five pressures that I have encountered over the past five years of building, leading, and maintaining Open Source Software (OSS) with community. This essay is primarily about being a leader in Open Source, but I believe it applies outside of technology too.

My aim is to foster understanding and empathy between contributors, community members, users, and maintainers. I would also like for maintainers and leaders in Open Source to feel a sense of solidarity in their shared burden.

Adam Stacoviak changelog.com/posts

Introducing Brain Science (our newest podcast)

I’m excited to announce our newest podcast — Brain Science!

brainscience–glitchy.png

Brain Science is a podcast for the curious. Are you curious?! We’re exploring the inner-workings of the human brain to understand behavior change, habit formation, mental health, and being human. It’s Brain Science applied — not just how does the brain work, but how do we apply what we know about the brain to transform our lives.

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