Nick Sellen

Modes of working

22 Dec 2009

I've noticed a few things have a similar pattern of working:

  1. analyse environment and makes plans (logical orderly "left brain" thinking)
  2. get immersed in immediate goal, following intuition along the way (more creative "right brain" thinking)
  3. get lost or confused so goto step 1 (broken brain thinking)

Things which fit this model:

Long Distance Cycling

I start by planning an approximate route and breaking the journey into manageable segments (about 20 to 30 miles each) with places I'm likely to remember when I arrive at [stage 1].

I then put my head down and focus on cycling, I might need to make a couple of decisions along the way but stopping and checking the map is usually too bothersome so intuition is used [stage 2].

At some point I'm likely to veer off course or loose confidence that I'm still on track [stage 3] so have to stop and look at the map.

Computer Programming

Before starting a project it's a good idea to do some planning [stage 1]

...but planning gets boring after a while and can get a little abstract so it's time to put my fingers to keyboard and write some code [stage 2]. Along the way I might drive myself towards some intermediate goal that I didn't quite plan (which may or may not be useful).

After further time with no planning I'm probably debating the reasons for the existence of anything so do some more structured planning [stage 3]

Lots of other things...

The more I think about it the more things seem to fit the pattern: cooking, writing, socialising, life planning... does everything work like this?

So what? What are the implications of this?

  1. when planning I shouldn't have any concern for whether I feel inspired
  2. when immersed in work I shouldn't worry if I lose track of my longer term targets
  3. mood dynamics are a good thing