In the past, I’ve talked with my good friend Vaibhav Krishna about how important it is to recognize your mental reserves and drives as an exhaustible resource. Writing and dissecting software, you will often feel the tug of an idea. Just as often, you will be set upon a problem and find no interest grow as you dig fingers into the solution.
Usually, it’s your job to find the solution (and probably define the problem). Hopefully you’ll be getting paid for those. You’ll slog through the keystrokes and requirements uphill, only to find yourself doing it again next month.
That’s while you’ll find the best professionals following their nose whenever possible. To survive any work for long, you find ways to explore - downhill. You recognize when not to push your mind. You recognize when to follow the scent of a challenge or new idea. If your nose is no good, you’ll find out quickly.
This weekend I was following my nose. I was reading up on some algorithms (ARIMA, GARCH, Levenshtein distance, among others) and stewing over OfficeLuv revenue forecasting issues all last week. I thought there may be a good way to quantity the difference between one e-commerce cart and another (the “distance” it would take to edit one cart into another). This would let me calculate the floating average of a customer’s e-commerce cart history. So I took the rainy Labor Day afternoon to develop the two algorithms, riding downhill the whole time. I’ll be writing them up this week and hopefully putting them into use next week.