The love of solving problems

Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.

Scott Adams

I often catch myself looking for problems to solve. If I’m bored, I think about how I might better configure my workflow on my computer to make common tasks easier – like by using utilities that allow me to keep multiple items in the clipboard so I can copy multiple times and then paste multiple times without having to switch apps (which is actually quite handy). If I’m procrastinating something I know is going to be tricky like finding common ground among stakeholders who are far apart on an issue, I’ll think about how I might set up my home network to block ads for all the devices on it (haven’t done this one yet). So there’s something satisfying about taking on a problem with a straightforward solution when the other problem in front of me is sure to lead to a winding path.

A software engineer friend of mine with one young kid and another on the way came over to my house to escape the stress involved in preparing to welcome a new child. He brought his laptop and his one already-born kid. During this visit, my friend drank about 3 pints of beer in an hour and executed a “hello world” setup in a new video game development framework he had been wanting to try.

It’s the same part of the brain that likes to solve crossword puzzles or jigsaw puzzles. Sometimes it’s a nice diversion, but sometimes I need to remind myself that I don’t need to invent new problems for myself.