The Dude has been on a slow blog roll for a couple weeks.
A week or so ago I mentioned that Mrs. Dude has me working a 2nd job as a painter, and the sun room painting project has been consuming my extra time. Hence the slow blog roll.
In that post I said, “We should be able to drop the brushes soon and get back to life without painting.” Nice and vague Dude, good work.
I didn’t anticipate this lack of commitment to a deadline and getting “back to life without painting” would still be dragging on almost two weeks later!
Why do Dude projects always take longer than expected?!
Turns out I have an answer to this question. Hofstadter’s Law.
Hofstadter’s law, conceived by the cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, goes like this: any task you’re planning to complete will always take longer than expected – even when Hofstadter’s law is taken into account.
Yep, sounds like every project the Dude takes on.
Here’s a quick read about Hofstadter’s Law from the Guardian. It’s worth 5 minutes to read (although, I’m sure I’m underestimating how long it will take ), but I’ll pull out a couple quotes I dig…
- How to get around Hofstadter’s Law? – The unlikely trick is to plan in less detail: avoid considering the specifics and simply ask yourself how long it’s taken to do roughly similar things before. ‘You’ll get back an answer that sounds hideously long, and clearly reflects no understanding of the special reasons why this task will take less time. This answer is true. Deal with it’
- Better yet, where possible, avoid planning altogether. Use the “ready, fire, aim” approach, and correct course as you go along.
- Sometimes, the secret to getting things done is just to do them.
So, as I spend my kid-free Saturday inside painting rather than enjoying the summer sun, I’ll keep Mr. Hofstadter’s Law firmly in my mind to help me remain realistic.
I’m going to finish today – says the painter who will finish sometime next week…maybe.
PS – The image included here is from an article/interview Hofstadter had in Wired magazine…also worth a quick read. This Hofstadter dude seems like a cool cat.