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Strong opinions, weakly held

Mowing for answers

Tim Bray posts that an answer to a tough technical problem came while mowing his lawn. I don’t have a lawn any more, but when I did, I often did my best thinking while mowing. Unlike Tim, I really enjoyed mowing. So much so, in fact, that I mowed my lawn and the next door neighbor’s lawn every week. You just walk around cutting stripes in the lawn and thinking about whatever it is you need to think about. There’s even the mindless drone of the lawnmower engine to drown out other distractions. Incredibly peaceful.

These days I have to rely on the shower for moments of inspiration. For years, I have found that if I go to bed thinking about a technical problem that I haven’t solved, the answer comes to me the next morning by the time I get to work, usually while I’m in the shower. For me, mindless repetitive physical tasks put my brain in just the right gear to do my deepest thinking.

1 Comment

  1. Inspiration for one of my favorite articles came about whilst I was mowing the lawn. I’ve also been hit with good ideas while driving, while out hiking, while mountain biking, etc. I’ve learned it’s important to take time out for activities that do not require mental focus. It’s useful to let my brain “wander” every so often.

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