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Park on a downhill slope

43F Google Group [Park on a downhill slope]

Jeffrey Windsor shares a great tip for making it easy to start work in the morning—by always leaving off at a point where it will be easy, intuitive, and interesting to pick things back up. Instead of grinding away until you're drained and out of enthusiasm, quit while you're on a roll.

Parking on a downhill slope is actually a practice which takes place when I end work the day before. Each day, when I wrap up whatever I’m doing, I jot down (on paper when I remember, otherwise I do it mentally with lesser effect) exactly where I need to start. And that is usually a question I’m still pondering/researching…

At first, the practice was disconcerting. I’d have a question to answer and then walk away, and I really wanted to sit back down and wrestle with the issue. I wanted closure. However, having a rich issue upon which to start makes starting so much easier, the discipline came easy…

Parking on a downhill slope eases the transition into work because you’re not starting your session with a dreaded task, but an interesting one. It’s easy to start your work. You want to start. Yes, you will still have to grade those papers (I have 120 of them waiting for me right now), but they’re what I do later, after I’ve completed more interesting stuff.

Similarly, I’ve heard that Hemingway advised writers to “leave some water in the well” by stopping in the middle of a paragraph or sentence.

That advice isn't just for writers and students, of course. It could go for virtually any kind of job, and certainly fits well with the Getting Things Done idea of the “next action.”

[Link encouragement via David McCormick]

Utills's picture

There is also something about...

There is also something about subconscious thinking when you leave an open question and plan to tackle it later. Although i have no evidence to back this up, the principle behind this is that you will keep the question in the back of your mind for the rest of the night till the next day. Therefore, since the issue has been nagging at you for so long, you are likely to come up with a much better solution than if you had tried to finish it off the night before. (I'm mainly talking from a programming perspective here).

Therefore, the best practice is not only to compose a question before you leave work, but also to compile a list of things you wish to accomplish during the day so you are always mindful of how you wish to achieve these goals.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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