Skip to main content

You should never be busy and we should grab lunch.

This post was inspired from reading this article, and this article, both of which cover a lot of the points I discuss below. I'd still recommend reading both of them. In fact, if you only have time for two articles, read those. I'm writing this post to share some of my own personal strategies on the subject.

These readings went over two important points which I'd like to highlight:

  • Telling people you are busy all the time isn't necessarily a good thing. Its generally a sign of poor time management. Incredibly productive people know that performing activities that distract you from your work often help you tremendously with making progress at work.
  • I'll quote the second point since I can't really put it better than this: "some tasks tax your bandwidth even when you are not working on them — a looming deadline or a challenging decision call your mind away from whatever you're working on," while "other tasks do not tax bandwidth but refresh it. It may be time with family, watching a basketball game, time at the gym, or simply doing nothing." - Sendhil Mullainathan, Harvard Economics Professor on TIME.

I used to feel relatively bad when I would spend some time relaxing, until I was sitting at lunch with a few friends and I solved the roadblock I had hit when programming that morning -- I scrambled to scribble it down so I wouldn't forget. And then it happened again, and again, and again. I came to a very simple conclusion. Taking a break from the environment you are currently in can benefit your productivity. I love how Mullainathan phrases the idea of an activity contaminating your productivity, it can tax your bandwidth. It's not just about how long an activity takes, but also how free your mind is to perform said activity.

I also saw a case of this as I started my Ph.D, I had put together a schedule that i'll summarize below:

  • Monday: All day research.
  • Tuesday: All day research - with Linear Algebra from 12:00 - 1:30pm in between.
  • Wednesday: All day research.
  • Thursday: All day research - with Linear Algebra from 12:00 - 1:30pm in between.
  • Friday: Research in the morning, class from 12-5:00pm.

The one thing I began noticing my first few weeks working was that on Monday and Wednesday I would often get lost from my work after a few hours, and never really get back to being productive. On Tuesday and Thursdays however, I would be incredibly efficient both in the morning and the afternoon. It was no coincidence that this kept recurring. Linear Algebra was refreshing my bandwidth, whilst on Monday and Wednesday I was getting overloaded and then my productivity hit zero. 

Yes, I'm sure right now you're probably going, uhh, how is linear algebra a break? Despite the fact that I thoroughly enjoy math, I mention this to illustrate the point that refreshing your bandwidth doesn't have to be unproductive activities, they simply have to be completely different activities (of course relaxing activities that don't require a lot of thinking are also needed from time to time in order not to burn out).

I do a lot of web programming, so going from programming one website to another website often doesn't help. I run into a lot of similar problems if the problems are similar and it doesn't relax my brain but if I switch from a programming task to finding some linear transformations, my mind clears up a lot quicker.

The more experience I get in this general realm of life, the more I realize that successful people are not really good at being focused 24/7 until they solve their problems. Successful people know how to manage their time so well that they know when to refresh their bandwidth to maintain their quality of work at solving a problem. It's a skill i'll probably work on for the rest of my career, but its nice to always give this idea some thought.

I hope this made you think of how you manage your bandwidth :),
Daniel.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Click

"Click".

It switched.
Unequivocally different.
Through those hardships
We finally turned around.

Perhaps reflections and glimmers
Gave us sight when we could not claim
But the panoramic put the shimmer
To shame.

Thank you.
In this brilliance we rose
Hoping to understand why the routine
drifts away in prose

For every detail and every insight
The neurons kept firing in question,
Let us speak for it is time
To mark this audacity in rhyme.

Although subtle
The cues went noticed
The portrait tact
And yet somehow,
Obtruded.

But lets digress from these colors
Let the light paint our shadow
For the steps keep calling
with a subtle vibration

We know its time.

Learning to float

First my apologies.
Perhaps I gave y'all the idea that
it was all spit without the gears
We aint about that shit

Words can leave you salivating
But sweat builds the fucking mountains
So don't ever forget that in a heartbeat
I could carry your dreams and forget I even did

You're swimming in it, but you can't even float
The irony of words is that they hold the strength of plans
Without the gunshot
You'll never be grand.

We can all aim high but precision does the talking
It's all too simple these days
With the chatter and spread of information
We're suddenly heroes and activists

But we haven't even blinked, the AC,
It's still running. It's near silence
but its not. The inaction,
It's deafening.

Heck I've gone mute,
I can't even rhyme shit
that could emphasize the prolonged
dream of a typeface, the letters were blank.

It was always that way,
It was always silent because at some point
We stop pinching ourselves and assume
that it was deserved…

Hold them.

Ever flip a coin hoping to choose
What never had a side?
Ever hope it fell on its side
Not yours or mine, but its.

Its the introspective gamble,
The bet we never made
The thoughts we shattered
Hoping their rebuilt selves would float away.

But instead we find ourselves walking on shards
Hoping to find the worlds' balance
We rebuild in pieces
But the scars never leave us.

Walking taller the worlds would never propitiate.
The past plays thinking it knows best,
The present checks for an all-in future,
But inaction has killed us before.

Fallacious wisdom rises to fail
For the trust of more over better.
We sacrifice the selfless
For the self to have less.

I wish I could make you understand
The direction our hearts dream of.
But with every step
You seem to forget

This was never your game
You gave me the chips
Now please,
let me play.

I'm all in.