I’ve heard from plenty of older people in tech that the capacity to concentrate during long periods of time is lost with age. I too believed this, but this week I could not help but notice going back into college levels of concentration (and also college level of habits).

What is interesting is that I’ve been seeking for years to recover this state by doing all the right things: meditation, exercise, healthy eating, pacing my work, getting a good night’s rest. But, it was by letting go of all healthy habits that I could focus at the level which is required of me at this time.

I know better than to sustain this pace indefinitely, and the fact that I worked on my habits before getting sucked in by this project means that I can cook myself healthy meals and go to bed at a proper time more or less on autopilot. Should I rely on the amounts of smokes, coffee, modafinil and junk food that I did in college, I’d drop dead in a month.

Lately I’ve been recalling thoughts I had when I had a creative block some five years ago. The event required me to widen my perspective and apply my creativity beyond my identity as a designer or developer. The experience was that of zooming out on a fractal: everything that I had learned about my profession could be applied to all areas of life, because my expertise of the fractal repeats within other domains of knowledge.

Now it feels like zooming back in to my domain of the fractal: the world becomes design and development. Everything else exceeds my field of view. But there’s a crucial bit of knowledge now: I no longer identify with this part of the fractal, and I know I can zoom out when I’m done with this project.