12 April 2004
Just random. Finish or fail early. I read once that successful people are those who try many things. They fail a lot of times but they fail early and therefore most of the time is spent on successful projects. Failures can be good because you learn from them. But they don't make you successful. So, measure your success by counting things that you finish. You can even take advantage of the human nature: reward yourself with entertainment after you do something useful. Strict rather than lazy (evaluation). This is probably a matter of style. The one that suits me is strict. Always pay attention and observe problems as they appear. As soon as a problem surfaces asses it: should I try to solve it? If yes, then get to it rather quickly, otherwise you will either forget or it will be too late. If no, then just move on. Try to solve problems as they appear not when you need the solution. Maintain focus. You are more efficient when you devote batches of time to each problem instead of trying to multitask. As a rule of thumb, each day focus on one or at most two problems. Play around vs. think it thru. Is it better to just try out possible solutions or to take a more theoretical approach? Do both: play a little to feed your intuition, then make progress with your brain, then test. Elegance, simplicity and abstraction. Always strive for elegance and simplicity: the way you talk, the way you dress, the way you work, etc. Simplicity is usually a child of abstraction: finding the essential features of objects involved. Abstraction = less features = bigger class of objects. Abstraction is the key of harnessing complexity! Elegance is beautiful simplicity. Formal and informal writing. Articles, books, letters, emails are examples of formal writing. Each of them should be simple, elegant and easy to understand by someone with the appropriate background. So you need to actively think about the "appropriate background" and re-read each piece of formal writing at least two times before releasing it to the world. Ideally you should re-read until you find no other improvement. Writing done for aiding your memory (e.g. while trying to solve a problem) can be more "confused" without causing damage; it can even be benefic. Of course, the confusion should be kept to an acceptable level. Disclaimer: I do not respect the rules above. I try to.