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The following incident set me thinking.

Just today, I had some work to do where I needed to learn about the Selenium IDE. While going through the documentation, I found a link to JUnit and TestNG. I was aware of JUnit, but not of TestNG. Hence I cliked on it and began reading a bit about it. Then somehow, I got interested about the creator of TestNG. Read a few artciles of him, and then I found myself reading one article where he described about Richard P Feynmann. The name sounded familiar, so, I google'd Mr Feynmann, and found myself reading more about him. Then I came to know that there was a movie about him called Infinity. Then i went and opened up my Wishlist in notpad and added Mr Feynmann's book and his movie to my already overflowing collection.

At the end of it all, about an hour had passed, and I was feeling all inspired and charged up. But then, I had miserably failed to complete my task at hand which was to learn selenium.

This made me wonder whether what just happended was wrong? Probably 'wrong' is a very strong word. Its likely that the using the word 'wrong' itself would be a wrong thing here. I admit that being charged up and motivated feels good, and it definitley helps in the long run. But at the same time, how do you justify the delay caused to the work that you were supposed to be doing?

I am sure that I am not the only one who faces such issues, but I do want to know your opinions on this matter, and what steps do you take when this happens. I know its all about balancing things. But how do you balance when the same curiosity that keeps you glued to solving problems(programmatic or anything else) also pushes you to keep following links until you finally forget why you're even at a given url.

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closed as off topic by Walter, Steven A. Lowe, Rein Henrichs, Karl Bielefeldt, Mark Trapp May 18 '11 at 22:47

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Possible Duplicate programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/9/… –  Aditya P May 18 '11 at 12:41
I couldn't resist to Google for Infinity. I guess that only proves your point :) –  Adam Byrtek May 18 '11 at 14:04
Maybe you didn't need to learn about the Selenium IDE as much as you thought? –  JeffO May 18 '11 at 16:16
What makes this specific to programmers? –  Rein Henrichs May 18 '11 at 18:34
Hi Ryan, there's nothing in this question or its answers that indicates any special programmer insight is needed in answering this question, so it's off-topic here. –  user8 May 18 '11 at 22:47
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5 Answers 5

  1. Use Read It Later extension for the links to follow.
  2. Listen to White Noise to help you concetrate.
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What is this white noise thing :-)? –  strauberry May 18 '11 at 12:47
@strauberry: High quality selection of bio-noise which aids in a variety of situations as listed on the page. Try it. :) –  František Žiačik May 18 '11 at 13:14
I'm trying it atm :-) funny thing... is this computer generated stuff or recorded at the sea, in the forest etc.? –  strauberry May 18 '11 at 13:15
+1 for white noise –  P.Brian.Mackey May 18 '11 at 13:15
I find the white noise irritating, like a bad cell-phone connection. Personally, I prefer Mozart. –  Steven A. Lowe May 18 '11 at 17:30
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Question every click and use Instapaper

If you know that you must be focused on some task and cannot allow yourself to become distracted then get into the habit of questioning every click. This also includes the Alt-Tab key (often known as context switch) since switching between code and blogs constitutes a context switch that interrupts flow.

Before you wander off the knowledge trail for the task at hand ask yourself if you need to know this right now, or can you just hit the "Read later" button because it looks interesting. Then you can allocate some time to go through your Read Later pile at your leisure.

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right-click the link and open it in a new tab or window; read it later, after your task is completed

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Also clicking the mouse key will have the same effect in most browsers. –  Gary Rowe May 18 '11 at 16:37
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Copy and past into notepad

I find when I need to concentrate -> pure un-formatted text works best. (no links, no images, no color)

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Focus on the immediate need at hand.

Just today, I had some work to do where I needed to learn about the Selenium IDE

Ask yourself

Does JUnit help you with your immediate problem of learning Selenium IDE?

Yes, then you are not wasting time or getting sidetracked.

No, you are wasting time and getting sidetracked.

Use the work as a guide. TestNG's creators bio is not going to be applicable to learning Selenium IDE.

As developers we live in a world where we do not master every tool we need to do our jobs. Instead, we need to learn quickly and good enough to Get Things Done. So focus on the skills that help you do this.

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This is really sound advice. Thanks Brian. –  Ryan Sukale May 19 '11 at 5:30
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