Genius Insomnia

December 05, 2006 By: erik Category: Musings 1,444 views

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Not everyone is cut out for the kind of work I do. I may be the only full time transatlantic telecommuter. I work alone from home with no supervision and a six-hour time difference between my coworkers and myself. Like all scenarios, mine has its pros and cons.

It takes me less than a minute to get out of bed, get dressed (I work in long pajamas), and get to my office. I don’t care what you do; my daily commute is shorter than yours. This is both a blessing and a curse, as you shall see. My job requires a lot of self-motivation and the ability to survive with relatively little social interaction. I have productive and unproductive days just like anyone else. I’ve learned to recognize and harness my productive spurts when they happen…day or night.

If I’m working particularly intensely on something, and I don’t watch at least an hour of television to clear my mind before going to bed, it’s quite likely that I will wake up in the middle of the night with some insight about how to continue my project. I lie there for five minutes, working out the details of my insight, and by this time I’m fully awake. At this point, I convince myself that it’s silly to be here lying in bed when I could be down in my office implementing this idea. So I make the 50-second commute to work and start hacking away…

On Sunday, two days ago, I woke up from a stereotypically-Spanish afternoon siesta with idea of how to write the best javascript drop-shadow library ever, and, boosted by the nap, I ended up working on it until 2:00am. Fully aware of my need to let my brain idle a bit before turning off the ignition, I watched a BBC documentary called Supersense – Sense of Timing, which, ironically, was about animals’ biological clocks. It was all timelapse and high-speed photography, so, if you like that sort of thing, I recommend it. I was in bed by 3:00am.

At 7:00am on Monday morning, I sat up in bed and knew how to get my javascript library to work in the Evil Browser. By 9:00am it was done, and I took a two hour nap.

On Monday night, I went to bed, quite tired, at 10:00pm. But, wouldn’t you know it? At midnight, I’m wide awake with the design for my current project figured out. My biological clock is definitely fubar. Good thing I don’t have a set time to be at work tomorrow!

To explain the title… In all my humility, I like to think of my problem as something that creative geniuses like Beethoven, Einstein, or Tesla might have suffered from. In reality, I think that it’s probably pretty common to anyone that doesn’t have a clear boundary between work and leisure time, works too closely to bedtime, and has relatively easy access to get from bed to work.

Oh well. It’s almost 1:30am. Better get to work!