Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Time is on your side. Or should be.

For about thirty years, I've regularly done "The New York Times" crossword puzzle. For about the last ten years, I've confined my efforts to the Sunday puzzle. I've always regarded it as a reward for the week gone by, and a way to relax and unwind.

There's a lesson gained from doing the crossword--an act of problem-solving--that most people and most agencies ignore.

Here's what I mean.

Last Sunday, I got the puzzle and I was stumped. I filled in about eight or 10 easy clues, but with the puzzle just about 10% done, I was stuck, baffled, unable to even hazard a guess.

When this sort of thing happens when you're in your 60s, you immediately think, "Fuck, that's it, I have early onset something. I'm beginning to lose whatever mind I once had."

So, I walked away from the Times, frustrated and a little worried.

Then, after an hour or so, I come back to it. I look at it with fresh eyes. I start seeing things, pulling at strings I hadn't noticed before.

Quickly, I answer 10 more clues, then 20. In just a few minutes I'm 90% done. Then, after another break, I come at it fresh again, and I finish the thing.

Creativity and problem-solving demand distance. They demand time. They demand breathing.

In our ridiculously "agile" world where "scrums" and "swarms" and "sprints" say "do it now," all that is obviated. We solve things half way. And creativity suffers.

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