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I’m more productive when under pressure. It suddenly becomes easier to prioritize & just write code when I have a tight deadline & no other options. Stress is a good [forcing-function]({{< ref "/writing/forcing_functions" >) in that way.

However, I worry that I’ve normalized my body to a certain level of cortisol (or adrenaline or whatever), and without an ever-increasing dose of urgency, I simply can’t be productive. The solution used to be really simple: more stress == constantly high output. This was bound to unravel at some point, and I’m just about there.

Some challenges:

  1. I’m slightly older — can’t drink coffee at midnight like I used to.
  2. I’m more employable — The thought of disappointing my boss or client isn’t as stressful as it used to be.
  3. My work has changed — Not only am I now managing other people, but we’re also writing more glue-code between 3rd-party services, which means that it’s harder to laser-focus for hours straight while constantly researching, asking-then-waiting, and browsing documentation.

Seeing as I still work for a living, I’m very interested in staying productive. However, I don’t want to exchange my physical health for productivity anymore, and in fact I want an even better work-life balance now that I have a child. So… I need a different lever to pull.

Empirically, I’ve already determined the best motivational strategy: work with amazing people. It really is that simple — I’ve never had trouble working hard when it’s alongside incredible people. However, there’s a catch — in every situation where I was working with incredible people, there were lots of external stressors. As my career progresses, I’ll surely get more access to better working environments. However, I think the challenge will always be present — capitalism attracts incredible people into high-stress jobs, and it might be hard to find them elsewhere.

As for the work itself, I still want the intrinsic pull of a [meaningful project]({{< ref "/writing/interesting_work" >