Sunday, January 1, 2012

Choosing multiple problems helps when you're stuck

From this page On choosing problems to work on: advice from John H. Conway

I quote:
"1. Work at several problems at a time. If you only work on one problem and get stuck, you might get depressed."

Hmmm I __had__ read about this earlier while doing my literature survey phase. Now that i'm working on a problem, and really getting stuck, I realize I am working on __only one__ problem! No wonder it feels depressing and highly stresful when I can't get things moving, also causing burn out due to mental hard work and extreme persistent focus on just one thing for too long.

It's the same long term stress that a deer in a cage would feel when the next cage has a hungry tiger in it. Long term persistent focused stress. Not good for my mental / physical health. Hmm... I'm waiting for the high that comes when I really solve the problem.

I continue the quoting:
"It is nice to have an easier back-up problem. The back-up problem will work as an anti-depressant and will allow you to go back to your difficult problem in a better mood. John told me that for him the best approach is to juggle six problems at a time."

Ah ... it's the right time to find a bunch of some easier problems. As a new beginner novice researcher I've just familiarized myself with the field and literature and have got deeply stuck on one single problem and is the right spot for me to find a bunch of smaller ones for dithering my emotions :)
The very thought of playing with smaller problems for a while now is relaxing....

(PS: I usually do have other 'problems' to chew on like the tiny ones coming out of my DIYing. But it's nice to have side-problems that directly aid the research-part of my life.)

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