My boss uses the term “spinning”, which is something I haven’t heard before. If it’s a term you’re familiar with, stop reading now: this update is a waste of your time.
Spinning is, as in, say, for a metaphor: wheels spinning in the mud, but the car’s not going anywhere. But applied to a thought process. Say you get a tough design problem to crack:
You think you could do A, but that would cause problems 1, 2, and 3, or you could do B, but that causes problems 2, 3, and 4, and problem 4 is worse than problem 1, so you think you should do A after all, solving problems 1, 2, and 3 by also doing X, but then that is essentially B and it creates problem 4 without solving problems 2 and 3 very well, unless you also do Y, but that is the exact same as doing A, which has problems 1, 2 and 3, or you could do B, but that causes problems 2, 3, and 4…
That is, right back where you started, maybe without even realizing it yet.
For sufficiently complex problems, you can do that all day long. You’re thinking, you think you’re even making progress. The bigger the wheel, the harder it is to realize that you’re back where you started and that you’ve been there several times throughout the day already. That is, that you’re spinning.
The solution is to go spin with someone else ’til you suddenly get some traction and “PUSH”, off you go, un-stuck.
Which is good, because spinning doesn’t stop (at least for me) when I leave the office at the end of the day. Hello tossing and turning all night trying to fall asleep, thinking in circles and not getting anywhere. It’s work - sans progress (or for that matter, pay).
What I need to do is to recognize that I’m spinning sooner, and seek-out a push. I tend to be a bit of a deliberate thinker anyway, and this is an easy trap for me to fall into. I can’t imagine how much time I’ve wasted in my life thinking of no solution.
Anyway, spinning sucks, but I love the word.
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