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Maintenance Mode

After a vacation, you really need some time off.

So I’m not going to talk about computer programming today.

In computer programming, we have two modes of operation - maintenance of what we have so far and creating new features. Maintenance is about fixing bugs in the code, updating the documentation and every other task that we programmer love to hate. Creating new stuff is cool. That’s why we started programming - to create stuff. We like to create stuff, we hate to support it. Kind of like parenthood, I would guess.

Too bad for us. We can’t avoid maintenance mode (unless you happen to be a consultant or something). You really shouldn’t add new features until you get rid of the major existing bugs. And the same thing is true in life - the caveman, sorry, cave-person, didn’t have time to invent the wheel until he had food in his belly. Hungry men don’t create things - they look for food.

Just as in programming you need to constantly fix bugs to maintain the quality of an evolving product, so too must you constantly maintain your body and mind before you start to improve yourself. There are the usual things:

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  2. Eat & Drink
  3. Sleep

We all do the above to maintain our body at the most basic level. After that, we have to maintain our house:

  1. Wash the dishes
  2. Do the laundry
  3. Clean the house

At a higher level still, there are more maintenance jobs:

  1. Exercise at least three times a week
  2. Spend time with our loved ones
  3. Do something unrelated to anything - see movies, read novels, go hiking in nature, …

These maintenance jobs are the most important so far, but they can’t be done very well unless we finished our other tasks. In particular, everyone acknowledges that exercising regularly is very important, but too many people don’t actually do it. And spending time with our significant other is so important that I’m actually willing to use the stupid term “significant other”.

I think I covered most of the maintenance tasks so far. Now, before I finish, I’d like to point out that I’m not a native English speaker, and I remember hearing that it’s bad to use the same word over and over again. While I didn’t bother looking for a substitute for “maintenance”, mainly because I didn’t get the spelling correct on my first try, I did intentionally avoid a synonym for “job” - the word “chore”. This isn’t because my wife would be offended if I said spending time with her is a chore, but because I really don’t think of these tasks as chores. They are a minimal set of things we need to do to keep what we have so far. The higher up we go, the more fun these tasks are.

Finally, the last form of maintenance is:

  1. Create something new. Challenge yourself each day. This fights stagnation. We have to move forward. And it isn’t really about maintenance, but it’s good to force yourself.

Note also that I didn’t put work anywhere up there. If your job goes up somewhere on your maintenance list, find another job.

Now, where did I leave those extra 10 hours a day…