Attending my first conference as a CYBERsprout seedling, I was pretty nervous. I was not sure who I was supposed to talk to and what lectures I wanted to listen in on. I was juggling my bag, a pastry, and a crash course on twitter when I saw a few familiar faces (enter angels singing) walk in. As we chatted we decided that being the day at the entrepreneur talk, which was focused on mentors and mentees – how fitting. I sat front and center eager to listen to what Jessica Codr or Union Pacific had to say. I had listened to her once before, when I was a student, give a crash course on the importance of testing programs. She began by telling us how she came about finding her mentor in her company and the importance of having one. She stated that mentors with a good connection are gained friendships. I found that statement especially important because I live in a different city than Rachel and Tyler, mentorship is something that would be very useful for me. Jessica then went on to explain how having a mentor gave her confidence in the work she was accomplishing, she was not afraid to ask questions about the common goals they discussed, and she went on to get the position she was striving for with the help of her mentor.
I do have to say my favorite talk at BarCamp was listening to Art Doler talk about what your groove is, and more importantly, how to get it back. This talk was all about flow, how it starts, and what to do to keep it going. He stated that flow is when you are completely engulfed in a certain task, such as kids who play video games for hours upon end and accidentally forget to eat or take even the slightest break. Now, how does one get so into the task at hand where they begin flow? The three easiest ways to enter flow is to have main goals at hand, whatever the task you are doing gives you immediate feedback, and that task challenges your skill level. This is where in his talk he jumped into the brain and how it works when in the flow. He explained the neocortex is where your trusted instincts come into play, also where doubt is born. What I thought was cool is that being in flow actually skips over going through the neocortex and you get an automatic response. Getting into a rhythm or routine is the perfect way to train yourself to get into the flow because your body will already be familiar with the task at hand. He compared doing things in an Algorithmic (set list of tasks) way and Heuristic (problem solving) way. Although there is nothing wrong with either way of accomplishing a task, working in an algorithmic way helps to promote flow because of the repetition, and the gratification of crossing off each item in the list helps to give that satisfaction that flow presents.
Tips In Action
The tips he closed his presentation with is something that I know I am personally going to try to live out. They are as follows: splitting the day into two halves, control the distractions around you, if you are going to take a break use physical distractions not digital, keep feedback loops fast for that immediate response, be aware when you are in flow and engage it, practice being in flow, and last but not least if flow doesn’t happen – don’t sweat it. If you are working in a team, you should focus on: letting your teammates manage their own schedules, have an early or late scrum, know the project tasks, have the goals clear and defined, have clear patterns (rhythm routines), have a safe space where there is no judgement allowed ( helps people open their ideas), have a personal pazaz to add to the group so it’s not all work. This talk hit home for me, mainly because I could relate. When I first graduated in graphic design I began working in a magazine, which was not able to give me much gratification. When I realized I wanted to go back to school for Computer programming, I was working on an assignment that I had though I was working on for about 15 minutes, and it turned out I was really working for 2 hours. That was me being in my own flow, and it felt great!