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HomeMathOptimizing your life with out shedding your soul. – Math with Dangerous...

Optimizing your life with out shedding your soul. – Math with Dangerous Drawings


recommendation to myself

"I thought you were going to relax with some Netflix...?" "MY EFFORT TO FIND THE MOST RELAXING MOVIE IS DRIVING ME TO AN EARLY GRAVE"

I spend numerous time making an attempt to save lots of time.

Shopping for nonperishables on-line, to keep away from lugging them across the grocery retailer. Ordering espresso from an app, so it’s prepared once I arrive. Composing weblog posts proper in WordPress, like some form of madman, the place one stray click on may ship a half-baked draft to 10,000 subscribers.

I can’t assist noticing that this optimization fails to make me any happier or extra fulfilled.

A person sits at a restaurant. "Every factor has been itemized! Every item has been factorized! I hereby order... the beef!" A moment passes. They sadly add: "I think I wanted chicken."

No shock, actually. Effectivity saves assets; it doesn’t lend assets that means. My fastidiously husbanding time doesn’t make me a greater husband — or, for that matter, a greater father, pal, author, brother, pen-pal, or survivor of late-stage capitalism.

But it’s exhausting to show off. My drive to optimize runs deep.

Perhaps I’ve taken one too many economics lessons. Or perhaps I inherit the legacy of my hominid ancestors, who lived and died by the pace of their grocery checkout line. Or perhaps I’m only a damaged soul. Regardless of the trigger, I typically despair of turning off my optimizing mind.

So I’m making an attempt to show myself the subsequent smartest thing: to deal with time not because the goal, however because the constraint.

In any optimization downside, we attempt to maximize an final result equivalent to revenue (or else reduce an final result equivalent to price). That is our goal. Whereas doing so, we should obey sure limitations, maybe dictated by our funds or obtainable supplies. These are referred to as constraints.

The factor is, many optimization eventualities permit a number of formulations.

Right here’s a method of optimizing tonight’s dinner: Reduce the time required, so long as the meal meets a sure threshold of tastiness. I.e., what’s the quickest I could make a meal that scores a minimum of a 6 out of 10?

Right here’s a second method: Maximize the tastiness, so long as the meal takes now not than a sure most time. What’s the very best meal I could make within the subsequent 40 minutes?

Each search tasty, fast-to-cook meals. However the distinction is important. Constraints are likely to get simply barely happy. (Optimizers name these “energetic” or “tight” constraints.) So which do we wish: a meal that simply barely clears the tastiness threshold, or a meal that simply barely matches within the allotted time?

Put that manner, the selection appears clear.

In relation to optimizing one’s life, I’ve come to imagine that easy constraints are wholesome, however easy goals should not.

The constraints in my life — time, power, cash — lend themselves to various levels of quantification. That’s the character of being a mortal creature with a finite steadiness in my financial savings account. However the goals I care about — writing with candor, parenting with love, cooking with cardamom — usually don’t. That’s the character of being a posh soul in a universe filled with mysteries.

A conversation on a mountaintop. "Oh wise guru, what is the true source of happiness?" "A bagel with lox." "Really?" "I mean, the profound solitude of existence is nice too, but it's getting towards lunchtime."

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