Ramblings of a SQL Hillbilly

Or, the mad ravings of a data warehouse forklift operator

Thoughts on Honing Comprehension

I have a stack of technical books I have not yet made it through on my desk at work. I also have at least a dozen in PDF form on my phone and my tablet, as well as dozens of blog posts waiting for me to wade through them. I could argue that I don’t have time to read them all, but what I really mean is that I need time to comprehend them as I read them. It’s that feeling of “my brain is full” that so haunts many a college student.

The truth is, I want to be more than a consumer of content, and so once I’ve been exposed to an idea I want to at least attempt to implement it. This is not always practical, so I’m left wondering how I can improve my consumption and comprehension rate. Following are some thoughts I’ve had in that vein.

One of the most obvious avenues to improving my comprehension of SQL Server related topics, is to work on my mental flexibility with topics that are sufficiently advanced, but otherwise unrelated. I’ve spent the last half an hour or so wading through a technical paper on understanding and rectifying electromagnetic interference. Before that was the specification for a digital frequency-shift keying scheme called PSK-31. Maybe tomorrow I’ll work my way through a chapter in a gunsmithing book, or a study of the degradation of neural pathways in Alzheimer’s patients. By engaging a diverse but challenging set of topics, I can engage differing areas of my brain and hopefully increase my capacity for more career-related topics.

I’m also trying to vary the authors and particular areas of SQL Server I read about on any given day. Multiple perspectives on the same topic often leads me to a fresh insight or combination of ideas, which I sometimes find helpful when tackling a problem at work.

Something I should engage in more often is a form of meditation or “quiet time.” The goal is to clear the mind and just rest. Pushups help the body, but doing nothing but pushups 24 hours a day will exhaust and even damage the body. Much the same applies to the mind. These should not be long periods – the recommendation I have seen is usually five to ten minutes a day. Again, this is not a time for prayer or self-reflection, but instead for giving the mind time to rest and relax.

The final activity I’m trying to engage in (obviously) is blogging. Putting my thoughts in a cohesive and easily recalled form helps me to form my thoughts more clearly while reading up on indexing strategies and execution plans. And of course, it also gives me an opportunity to share what I’ve learned, which I hope in some way helps another to see things in a slightly different and perhaps more useful way.