August 6, 2018

Dude, where's my flow?

Or, In Which Sett Loses His Shit.

Toward the end of last year I realised had lost the ability to focus. To compound matters, I was in a position where focus wasn’t really required of me - I was tech lead, but in this case my resposibilities had drifted from the concerns of technical delivery and all of my energy was spent solely on trying to sort signal from noise1. Needless to say, it was an astronomically dysfunctional and frustrating environment. And it was turning me into a person I did not want to be, full of bitterness, frustration and rage.

I coped with this, tried to add value as much I could2 but I realised fundamentally that it was a futile endeavour - the greater environment did not seem to be conducive for this kind work. And I was drifting increasingly away from the craft and simultaneously burning out. So I left. It affected me so much that I wanted to leave tech altogether too.

I went camping alone for a little bit. I took my mountain bike. It seems there’s a great calm that descends when the only thing you need to focus on is preparing your next meal, or trying not to die. A state of mind not too dissimilar to the state called flow3. In which the world is abstracted away and you’re fully immersed in the present, because your reaction time matters...

Puff adder in the MTB trail *Friendly snek4 on the MTB trail. To brake or to bunny hop?

I survived. And I haven’t entirely given up tech. But I’m unsure if I’m currently able to engage in full time work in an office environment, especially for any arbitrary project or organisation. It would be unethical to dive into something I cannot fully commit myself to5. But I do plan to inch my way back into the dev community. You might see me around some meetups and conferences.

So what am I actually up to right now? I’m still investing in learning6 and getting good at the craft on a deeper level. I’m working on my mental health. I’ll be dabbling in technical writing as well as sharing general software dev experiences on this blog. There are some technical items in my backlog I’m working through. And a particular project I have an eye on that I quite fancy and looking for an opportunity be a part of.

TL;DR You’ll see me around.


  1. Too much politics, project management and general corporate madness meant I had little time to focus on helping devs learn and build. [return]
  2. My colleagues will know working software is usually always my primary concern. I tend to obsess over it: “how do we build the right thing and what’s its path to prod?” [return]
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology) [return]
  4. It was a Puff Adder [return]
  5. I have trouble committing to banality. It’s one of my biggest deficiencies. I’m trying to work on it. [return]
  6. I’m enrolled in a postgrad programme with modules: Logic Programming, Ontology Engineering, Machine Learning. This takes up most of my time, as well as re-learning a whole lot of Math I’ve always tried to avoid. [return]

© Sett Wai 2018