Unfocusing for more focusΒΆ

Tags: work

Andy Hunt has a good tip. Unfocusing for more focus. He calls it "Unsharp Mask As Mental Discipline", after a tool in many bitmap editors that first blur an image and afterwards try to make it sharper again. That - initially strange sounding - algorithm actually sometimes helps to clear up the picture. He applies it to thinkwork:

I like to try to do something similar when faced with a sticky problem. After a while, continuing to beat one's head against an issue stops being productive. You're stuck. That's when I "defocus". My head's already loaded up with all the facts, all the options. So I blur them. I leave my desk, and go out for a walk. Do something different---and away from the scene of the crime---for a few minutes. I think of anything but the problem at hand.

After a little break, when it's gotten all blurred in my mind, I'll try to "sharpen" it. That is, I try to reconstruct the facts, the options, the constraints, etc. It's important to do this part away from your desk. By reassembling the image in your mind, you will find that maybe it goes back together a little differently than you thought. Perhaps a new insight will come to you; maybe even a solution to your problem.

Sounds good. I even think I do this from time to time in some way. Only mosttimes I do the re-focusing close to my workplace. Definitely worth a try to do it conciously away from my workplace.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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