Research ratio

In a rare move, I took some days off this past week. It was a revelation.

Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I also — to my great surprise — came up with a lot of new ideas for research. Although I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

After all, when you stop filling your head with day to day problems, your mind becomes more free. New ideas that pop into your head are embraced, rather than dismissed as a distraction.

This raises a question for people who do research. I wonder what would be the ideal ratio R of days spent “doing research” to days spent “taking a break from doing research”.

If the goal is to maximize the number of good research ideas, then wouldn’t it then make sense to spend less time just trying to get things done? If the ratio R is 2 to 1, that would mean two days working for every one day not working.

That sounds plausible, but wouldn’t it be funny if it turns out we have it all wrong? Maybe the optimum value for R will turn out to be something more like ½.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *