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Scheduling and Eureka! moments



I'm a big fan of scheduling. I find it a lot easier to get done everything that needs getting done when I've allocated some time to it in my week's schedule. It has been a very effective tool.

But it doesn't always work. Several times, I have ended up setting aside time for things and have failed to get them done. Even when I end up spending that time doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

When I looked at why this was happening, there was a pattern. Two kinds of tasks resulting in differing outcomes when put through the scheduler.

While solving a problem (let's face it, we all solve problems for a living), there are two parts to it. The first is only 5% of the work but is notoriously unpredictable and seldom respects the natural expectations of effort-reward ratios. This is the part that ends in a 'Eureka!' moment, the part that involves outlining the approach to the solution. The rest 95% is seeing this approach through by finding corroborating facts, figuring out the best way to present the findings, etc. This part is ideal for being scheduled. This part respects natural expectations of effort-reward ratios.

So, now I fill my schedule with tasks belonging to the 95%.

But, that doesn't leave any time for the 5%, right? Wrong.

The 5% is about being obsessed with the problem. So much that that is all you think about. When you're in the shower, about to sleep, waiting for a bus, driving, running, all the time. And to get to a solution, you can only be obsessed with a handful of problems (less than 5 is my bet) at any given time.

So, now I pick a handful and forget about the rest. The minute I hit the 'Eureka!' moment for even one, the corresponding grunt work can be scheduled for later, and a new problem can take its place.



PS: Boredom is when there are no such problems that require 'Eureka!' moments.

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