Today was truly an intense day for me despite having minimal physical activities. I started my work day at 9 a.m.-ish having a bunch of discussions comparing random forests and gradient boosted machines and how we can get one process to converge onto the results of another process with similar-enough internal structures. This was then followed by another meeting discussing the inner workings of transformers and encoding tabular data into transformers. [Read More]

Getting Into the Flow of Things

Productivity and motivation gurus always talk about flow. Flow is a psychological state of being immersed and concentrated in doing something that everything outside doesn’t matter. It is very difficult to explain the concept of a flow, until one actually achieves and experiences it.

I’ve heard about flow for many many years – when we were younger, my father used to bring us kids to motivational seminars where we’d learn how to get into the flow – and on many occasions I thought I had experienced flow. But I had not. I only truly experienced flow once in late 2008. And immediately, it clicked and I instantly understood why it was called flow.

The experience came with my first ingestion of Ritalin. Ritalin (aka methylphenidate) is a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It was (and still is I believe) rather used and abused by university students who want to concentrate while studying. All I did was have a slow release of methylphenidate and I achieved flow while studying Game Theory. Since then I realized a few things: a) flow is the way of getting things done; b) I probably have ADHD that was never treated.

That however, is besides the point. You see, once you have experienced the flow state, you tend to want to experience it again – afterall, you typically exit the flow state with positive results at hand. I was familiar with the standard advice on how to achieve flow:

  • Have a clear objective
  • Said objective must be challenging enough
  • No interruptions
  • Instant feedback on the subject matter (to form the feedback loop that will feed the flow)

Easier said than done.  I remember many a days when I was in primary school, setting aside blocks of time of solitude to do my homework, but still end up sitting on the TV reading (yes, kids, back in the days, TVs were made of cathode-ray tubes and they were large, and I have a vivid memory of this incident of me ending up sitting on the telly while reading a Secret Seven book by Enid Blyton when I was supposed to be doing my homework or revising for exams). The same continued up to my university days, when I would set aside time to have no distractions, no internet, and yet achieve not much. 

[Read More]