Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gasoline on the candle

I have always worked fast. It's hard for me to see a job not done. In a few hours I have done things others have taken months. This, however, has taken its toll. I suspect that keeping up this level of intensity has negatively impacted my health. But I don't know how to stop. My mind runs a million miles per hour, playing out every path, my body used to be able to keep up.

If you've ever talked to me while I am working on a problem, you may have noticed that I struggle to slow down my speech, just so that you will be able to understand. A million perceptions, a million thoughts, but fewer actions. I am always looking at ways to improve my performance, often performing many tasks at once. Ambidextrous by force.

But I fear that this is not sustainable. I have others to worry about now. I have responsibilities toward my family. And thus, I am asking this advice: For all that can take 6 months to do something, how do you do it? How do you slow down? How can you slow thinking, stop thinking? How do you take the time to inhale?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thinking vs. Reacting

As computer scientists, we tend to try to get the computer to 'think' about problems using all sorts of complicated processes. The result is that often our programs are clumsy, slow, and not elegant. If you think about how humans tend to perform operations quickly, elegantly, and precisely, you will realize that we train for the operations. We perform them so many times, that we can do them without thinking about them. We have developed a complex series of reactions and are no longer thinking about the things we are doing.

Of course, as we are in our training mode, we will have to think about what we are doing. But when we master tasks, we will be able to do them without thinking. I think that computer scientists need to keep this in mind when they are designing complex systems. There is a time for thinking, and a time for reacting.