Stacks and Division

Pj Eby is pretty great. One of the smartest things I’ve read from him is “Effort is a divided mind”.

Let’s use a programming metaphor. Stacks are a data structure with two functions, push and pop. Push adds something to a stack. Pop removes the thing most recently pushed. If you have a stack of books that you remove one at a time (and occasionally add to), it’s a stack.

In my last post, I talked about how you can imagine a single task as having a stack of actions. You granularize a little, and take the first next action. When something interrupts you or you hit a roadblock, you push something else on to the stack. When you’re done, you pop it off.

You always have something to do, you always have one thing to do, and that thing is always leading to what you want. You have a next action, and its pretty easy.

When you have multiple things you want to do – when you have things that don’t really relate that much to each other – you run into problems.

You have multiple stacks, and they all have stuff.

What the hell kind of data structure is that? What should pop do?

The most important thing? Alternate between all of them?

Then you lose your momentum working on something when you switch.

Finish one then another than another?

Timing doesn’t always work out.

So it’s harder.


About atucker

Provisional pronouncements and (hopefully) honest mistakes. I'd like to be differently wrong about things, and helpful to the world.
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