Category Archives: Productivity

Thinking is counter-productive

I spent a lot of time on thinking and reflecting. But they are counter-productive.

Real productive behaviors are writing and coding.

When I caught myself thinking, something is usually wrong. Examples:

  • Career decisions. Actions should be:  collecting facts, ask for plans, compare pros and cons, decide, plan, execute. I thought a lot and take forever to decide. The real problems are a fear for failure, low self-esteem, unclear values and priorities.
  • Coding. Action should be writing code, test, and revise. When stuck, ask for help. When I stop and think how to write a code, I was unproductive. I once spent two weeks writing a k-means algorithm. Here I think because I got stuck and don’t know what to do. The reason behind that, are
    • 1) unfamiliarity with data structure and algorithms and
    • 2) didn’t fully understand minHash algorithm and
    • 3) didn’t know spark and
    • 4) unwise coding strategies – start from simple.
  • Blogging. I think about what I plan to write. I wrote drafts of posts explaining concepts. But I hadn’t posted a single piece yet. The real problem were:
    • I did not understand the concepts well to explain
    • fear of being judged
  • Writing paper. I think about methodologies but not actually write them. The real problem is I don’t know what to write. This is because my data cannot support quantitative conclusions, while I did not know how to do qualitative ones.
  • Research. I think about how to do this, ask people how to do this. But not actually reading papers. Reason – procrastination.
    • Lack of confidence. I fear I will not understand. Since work is related to self-esteem, I am hiding from shame from failure.

This post identifies solutions for programming including:



  • Understanding: ask someone, learn what will help you understand
  • Drawing: too many concepts together cannot hold in their mind. Solution is to draw something.
  • Starting: I don’t know what to write. Then just write whatever you can write right now. Start with what you do understand. Even if it’s just one function or an unimportant class.
  • Skipping to the next step and come back later.
  • Get some sleep or food. Might be low energy.
  • avoid distraction.
  • self-doubt: feel unsure about oneself. (true!) solution = start from what you are sure. (I can apply this to research) You will become better in the future.



That said, the most important thing is to actually sit and write. Take actions. As this author says, always be firing.

Yet another motivational post – now going back to some real work…