Software optimize

10 personality traits of a highly effective independent consultant

Many IT consultants daydream about branching out on their own without giving much thought to what skills are necessary to succeed as a freelancer. Before you commit to being an independent consultant, read Chip Camden's list of 10 personality traits that he says you should possess in order to be an effective consultant.

 

I get a lot of e-mail from readers who ask for pointers on how to get started in IT consulting. I usually refer them to my very first entry in the IT Consultant blog, "So you want to be a consultant?" and then I respond to any specific concerns the reader has that aren't covered in that post.

Here's a snippet of a recent e-mail from a reader:

I am now thinking about going freelance, possibly as a consultant, but am not sure how to get into it and also have problems with the confidence to be able to fix problems out there.

Do you have any suggestions? Are you able to suggest what skills would be needed at least to be able to break in to consultancy?

Here's part of my response:

First of all, if you don't have confidence in your abilities, I wouldn't attempt freelancing. You'll need to be able to convince not only yourself that you can do it, but also your clients. That doesn't mean that you have to know everything. But you need to feel confident that you can find out how to do anything that comes your way and that you can apply that knowledge successfully.

Second, I'd break in gradually if I were you. Keep your day job and take on a few small gigs on the side to feel your way. Then, if you can land enough business over time, make the jump -- or even try migrating to half-time at your present employment if they'll allow it.

As far as what skills to cultivate -- first and foremost are people skills. Being a consultant requires the ability to sell yourself, negotiate your terms, and motivate yourself to do the work. Naturally, you need to have some technical skills to back that up -- find the niche that you want to occupy and study that. Build on your existing strengths and target a segment where you can find some business.

This e-mail exchange got me thinking about what personality traits are beneficial to the independent consultant. Here are 10 traits that I think are important in order to be an effective and successful consultant.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Confident

You have to look at a challenge and say, "I could do that." It might even help if you are a little megalomaniacal about your thinking; for example: "I can do anything, given enough time and information." Now that we live in an era in which information is almost always only a google away, the question becomes, "Do I have enough time to master this?" Most of the spectacular failures of consulting engagements probably result from a false positive answer to that question -- stemming from the very hubris that makes it possible to be successful.

#2: Problem solver

You need to be passionate about solving problems, because that is what you'll be doing all day. Whether it's a problem with computers, logistics, or personnel, your clients want you to solve it. Consulting may be for you if you like math and word problems; find problems in daily life more of a challenge in optimization than a drag; and enjoy playing a difficult game or solving a tough puzzle.

#3: Motivated

You have to be able to keep yourself on task, especially if you work from a remote office. If you can't control your tendency to procrastinate, you'll never get anything done -- and if you never get anything done, you won't keep your clients.

#4: Obsessive

Many of the problems you encounter will take a lot of mental juice to solve, which means that you need to be able to focus your attention for long periods of time. You also need to be able to continue to process a problem in the background when you're not giving it full attention. Some of my best solutions come to me in my sleep, in the shower, while taking a walk, or while engaged in some other activity.

#5: Lateral thinker

While it's important to focus on a specific problem, you should also be able to see beyond the task at hand and question the assumptions that led to the problem; this can help you predict problems and find opportunities that your client hasn't considered.

#6: Personable

You'll be involved in more than one company's culture, and in each case, you'll be seen as an outsider at the beginning. You need to be able to win the confidence of strangers who may be initially threatened by your presence. A big dose of humor works wonders, especially when you direct it at yourself.

#7: Flexible

You will have to accommodate the priorities of multiple clients, as well as be flexible about managing your time and money. For instance, you might get an emergency phone call in the middle of the night that you can't put off until morning; your monthly income will wax and wane as projects come and go; and sometimes you might have trouble collecting your money on time.

#8: Assertive

Although you try to be flexible on most things, you must stand your ground on the things that matter -- like getting paid and maintaining your integrity. You have to be willing to lose your client in order to defend your position in both of those cases.

#9: Honest

In the long run, it is always best to speak the truth. Your integrity is your most valuable asset; once you lose it, it's hard to get back.

#10: Realistic

This one seems to conflict with the others, but it actually tempers the other nine traits. You have to realize that you can't work 24/7. You must give yourself a life outside consulting, so you don't burn out. You can't start thinking about all your outside activities in terms of how much potential billable time they're costing you. And you have to be willing to admit when you make a mistake or need someone's help. You're not Superman... you're a consultant.

What qualities would you add to the list? Let me know by posting to the discussion.

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About

Chip Camden has been programming since 1978, and he's still not done. An independent consultant since 1991, Chip specializes in software development tools, languages, and migration to new technology. Besides writing for TechRepublic's IT Consultant b...

67 comments
ssaulino
ssaulino

A lot of comments on here.  No wonder I can't seem to get many new clients, kidding of course.   All kidding aside it is great to see there are so many freelancers out there.  Down with big execs and big corps.  As for the article for anyone who may be breaking into consulting it is great information, that soon will be second nature for a seasoned professional and even for the seasoned professional to remember what got him there. 

"It's only the giving that makes you what you are"

JT

KevinDee300
KevinDee300

Good article.  One addition might be  tolerance for risk because consultants need to find their own work.

I will also comment on the work/life balance comment.  People are all different, but many people get significant satisfaction from their career ... and career and personal life are inextricably connected.  Live a life you love and don't define it with x hours of work!

alijamie
alijamie

No matter how good a problem solver you may be, unless you can remove yourself from the internal politics of an organisation then no one will pay head to what you may suggest. The most important thing is not to be seen to take sides but try to remain independent, this must be the most difficult part of being a consultant.

philswift
philswift

The first thing is to realise that work/life balance is the most important thing. You must 'work to live' and not 'live to work' or there is little point in being born. Working long hours is nothing other than stupid. You want to work no more than 40 hours per week + travel time. If you are working more than this you are a fool. You are fooling yourself and your loved ones and friends. If you disagree with this start at the beginning of my post and keep reading it until you agree. Even if you bill by the hour, that is only a convenient way of measuring. You are really charging for your knowledge or IP. That is why you are a consultant. People who know less seek counsel and consult you. IT and Consultancy is 80% people and 20% Tech. Computers used to be that actual people that work the abacus. Over time computers became the devices. This left users out of the equation. Never ever forget there are human beings with feelings and emotions at the end of keyboards, mice and smartphones. The buck stops at their synapses and dendrites, NOT the device. Be humble, smile, firm but fair and as per above have a sincere joke and laugh with people. Build trust as quickly as possible but with sincerity.

Glenn Castle
Glenn Castle

I realize the term encompasses many aspects, and varies in definition from person to person, but a consultant is a professional and needs to act like one. You might not be able to specifically define it, but you know unprofessional when you see it. So do the people who hire you.

hannia
hannia

Thank you! Your article is of great help!

pablo.emanuel
pablo.emanuel

I've been working as a consultant for 10 years, and I couldn't come up with a better list. #10 is defintely the harder to get (at least it was for me), and it's crucial to keep #8 and #9 in mind all the time, but every single one of them is essential to succeed as a consultant.

reisen55
reisen55

Whenever I am on or off site, working for my clients, I find a proper mindset is to put me inside their company, not as an OUTSIDE CONSULTANT but as an internal, paid employee. This is a subtle thing but it vastly changes perspective of problems and solutions. Consulting is an outside view in, far better to see the world through the lens of your client, and your clients will appreciate that.

jck
jck

This is a big help, as becoming a consultant is one career move that I am considering. Thanks Chip

apotheon
apotheon

Your list of character traits is spot-on. I have a couple of specific comments to offer, though. [b]#2: problem solver[/b] You talk about some stereotypical ways some people enjoy solving problems. Unfortunately, in IT consulting, the problems one has to solve are often not very unenjoyable. In fact, I don't usually like math or word problems, and both competitive problem solving games and individual "diagram" problem solving games (crosswords, sudoku, et cetera) annoy me. I don't really find optimization challenges in day-to-day life particularly fun, either. Rather, I find them [b]obsessing[/b]. I feel kinda like I simply [b]must[/b] solve optimization problems in my life. My problem-solving penchant isn't so much about enjoyment (though I do enjoy some types of problem solving activities, a lot of the time, including some programming tasks) as it is about an undeniable internal motivation to make things work better. When I write a program, I keep wanting to fix it, to make it better. When I implement a backup solution, I keep wanting to make it more robust and make backup tests more simplified and automated. When I play a roleplaying game, I keep wanting to fix the inconsistencies, arbitrary clunkiness, and impositions of unreality in the game system (and, in fact, I've been writing quite a bit about RPG system design [url=http://sob.apotheon.org/?cat=129][b]in my personal Weblog[/b][/url] lately). [b]#10: realistic[/b] When you talk about giving yourself a life outside consulting, you touch on a sensitive area for me. The problem is that, even though I have quite a bit of a life outside of consulting, I don't really have a lot of life outside of work, in some sense. Major activities in my life include: 1. consulting -- and I do a lot of related work outside of actual work, because it's a subject that interests me, but it's still very work-like activity a lot of the time. 2. writing -- Not only do I write about subjects related to consulting (thus not breaking free of consulting), as in the TechRepublic [url=http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security][b]IT Security[/b][/url] Weblog, but I also write a lot in my personal Weblog, [url=http://sob.apotheon.org][b]SOB[/b][/url]. When I write, it's usually not much of a "leisure" activity; I tend to aim more for thoughtful analyses of a variety of subjects important to me. That tends to take on much the same character as the professional writing I do, with research, cross-referencing, and long hard thinking, which means that it's mostly a case of yet more "work" in my life -- even when I'm writing about gaming, as I mentioned above. 3. gaming -- I play roleplaying games, of course, but since I took up GMing again about a year ago I've gradually ended up doing more and more of the GMing amongst the games in which I participate. Of the amount of effort I put into gaming, the lion's share by far is preparation for the (roughly) weekly game I run. Of all the games I play, the one I run on Thursdays is by far the most structured, with the largest group of players, which means that -- though I enjoy the experience -- it's also the game that's the most work for the GM, and of course the GM is always the player with the most work to do in a well-run game. Even when I'm playing games in my off-time, I'm "working", to some extent. 4. politics -- I devote a fair bit of time to matters related to politics, too. I care about the world in which I live, and try to improve it (and its livability). That's not exactly a pursuit I'd list amongst "fun" and "leisure" activities, though. In fact, if you're involved in politics and it's "fun", you're probably either not aware enough of the issues with which you're dealing or doing it for the "wrong" reasons. I could go on in some more depth, of course -- like the fact that a lot of the reading I do is work-related, or the fact that a lot of the reading that isn't strictly work-related is for autodidactic purposes so that there's kind of an element of work ethic involved. A lot of my supposed online "leisure" time is spent reading things that tie back into various avenues of work. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, in some ways, I don't seem to know how to "shut off" and just relax. The closest I seem able to get to that is sitting in a movie theater from time to time (very rarely, these days, in part because I don't care to give the MPAA much of my money) and of course sleeping. For years now, it hasn't seemed to affect my work, and it gives me purpose -- reasons to roll out of bed in the mornings. I wonder if I'm bound for a crash and burn in a few more years, though. I think I handle the stresses pretty well, taking things in stride that many people might find almost unendurable, but I guess I'll know for sure when I find out whether I'm going to have a stroke or heart attack at 40. Wish me luck.

Igor Royzis
Igor Royzis

How about being a good listener, ask the right questions and knowing when it's time to suggest possible solutions. Some consultants don't listen enough to ask the right questions and they jump into a proposal stage.

dawgit
dawgit

I'm sure this one will get pasted in many to-do boxes. (I got it) As for the sleep-think process, I've many discussions with supper creative and intelligent folks, it seems to be a common trait. With recent research into sleep itself, they're finding what some of us already know. The Human Brain continues to function after the rest of the body rests. When free of all the outside interferences of our normal daily lives the brain has the ability to concentrate on complex problems. Quite often comming up with solutions in what to most (normal) people seem to be odd hours. Give your wife a big hug and a thanks for being understanding of that. (She most be rather intelligent as well, to have reconized the connection.) -d

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

My wife started this whole post for me by commenting on me waking up at 3AM with a solution to a design problem (again). She's starting to realize that this isn't just a quirk -- it's a requirement. What do you think?

mark
mark

Firstly, congrats on an excellent article. I have been an independant IT consultant for 3 years now with about 5 years IT experience under my belt before going solo. Maybe surprising though, my previous IT experience was sales\account management rather than technical. Although it is my techincal skills which get the billable hours done, it is my sales skills which ensure the client is aware of my achievements. This ensures trust and value in my work which ultimately results in more work comes coming my way. Not just with the client involved but the clients they refer. The ability to sell yourself is a critical trait an independant consultant needs over a traditional tech.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... one of the benefits you can bring to a project is a new pair of eyes with a fresh perspective. But I agree that it's also important to be able to see the problem from the client's perspective.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Do most of these traits line up with your personality, or do they seem more like obstacles to be overcome? Most likely it's somewhere in between, but exactly where?

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... is making sure you don't feel trapped in the squirrel-cage. I also enjoy doing some work-related things, like reading a book on programming, for instance, when not at work. But if I start to feel that it's something I should do, instead of something I want to do (in my off time), then I'll drive myself into the ground. Did that once already -- it cost me my job, my marriage, and a good part of my sanity -- but I came out better on the other side.

dawgit
dawgit

ANd by only a few months. Of course there were some rather unique situations on that. I was supprised when I hit 40. Still can't believe I'm 56 and still living. Just goes to show... oh-well it must show something. :D -d

santeewelding
santeewelding

Sincerely. The mind that doesn't shut off sounds very, very familiar.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

That's one I'm still learning after 17 years. OTOH, you also need to be willing to sake some calculated risks.

Travasaurus
Travasaurus

This was an excellent article, and one new (and old) consultants alike should take heed of. It also gave me a bit of reassurance, since it described me (and many others in this line of work, I'm sure) very accurately. It's always good to have a "yardstick" to measure one's suitability for a given occupation, particularly by others in their field. Thanks for the insight!

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Thanks, dawgit, I'll pass that on. Yes, I think the way it works is based on the very reason we have dreams. In our waking, rational mode we often limit our view of a problem to what we think is germane, which sometimes masks a possible solution. When we sleep, those seemingly logical boundaries are removed, we associate more randomly, and we come up with connections we never dreamed of (har) while awake.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I think it's a defense against madness when it comes to some problems.

pwoodctfl
pwoodctfl

Most independent contractors fail because of a lack of a support system when something does not follow the plan. This impacts not only their clients, but their outside relationships as well. If you are a "confederacy of one" and rely on no one and no one relies on you, you need to get a backup plan. Illnesses, accidents, delays in a project, or other personal emergencies can make you look ridiculous in front of your client without a solid support system that allows you to weather the unexpected. You need to find a group of professional associates who can step in and finish the job without disadvantaging your client if you are to maintain credibility with them. Otherwise, when it all falls apart in your life....and it will from time to time....you are going to lose clients. You also have to set expectations and get agreement with the significant personal relationships in your life. Nothing will create more stress that diverts your mental energies from the job at hand than chronically disappointing people who are important to you. Make sure they know when they can count on you and when they will have to cope on their own. It beats trying to work those issues out on the fly. Make sure that they know that having a client is not like having an employer. Clients do not have to understand.

ChipN
ChipN

I would add #11 - Trustworthy. This is something earned by being honest, doing good work, and delivering on your promises and commitments. Regarding flexibility, this should extend to your work plan as well. I've always been a proponent of providing at least three alternatives, providing the pros & cons of each, and then making my recommendation. If they go with my way, great. If they want me to do something else I will analyze it, point out potential issues/problems, make suggestions (all in writing), and then do as they want since that's what we're being paid to do. If what they want is just grossly wrong then it might be time to walk away. A good reputation is a difficult thing to build and an easy thing to lose, and is far more valuable than a few weeks of billable time. Here's a link to a complementary article that I wrote a few years ago. Those interested in this topic should find the article useful as well. http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5059462.html?tag=search Best regards, Chip

A contractor
A contractor

you have your best insights while doing a walkthru with the 2 yr old instead of telling them a bedtime story. Better yet was the time the Sheltie barked at a point in a walkthru where the problem was ultimately found. Strange, but true.

dmcaplan
dmcaplan

I too have come up with some of my best solutions in my sleep. Once, when working on a database to develop work hour tracking for a university with 9 differently regulated programs I was literally dreaming in code...about a field of sheep (well better dreaming them then counting them...)- each object had its own individual code and the overall "picture" summarized a solution for a problem I'd run into. I've also found that just getting up and walking away (literally or figuratively) can do wonders - the problem percolates as you take a walk, work on a simpler problem, ruminate on your belly button, or whatever. Then the "ah-ha" moment comes - there have been times when I was surprised that a little light bulb didn't literally appear over my head.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Absolutely. You can't just expect that your client will automatically see the benefit they get from you. You do have to bring it to their attention, in creative ways. The road to success is littered with the bodies of would-be consultants who had great technical skills but little ability to market those skills.

reisen55
reisen55

A fresh pair of eyes is what we are supposed to bring with us every day to our clients. At least until the first three coffees are in us. The client's perspective is interesting. I have long wanted to actually "work" a day in my client(s) offices to DO WHAT THEY DO so I can understand their business. A medical staff uses EYECOM2, a patient management system for optical houses, and it is easy to SUPPORT but in terms of USING the software, filling out insurance, making appropriate patient records, etc ... they do that on an intimate basis and I do not. Therein is a huge business knowledge gap of profound importance. Everytime I do pick up something of the way they do their jobs, I am most thankful. I would also love to dictate more rules in my clients offices, but there are rules and then there are people. I have to strike a balance between the two. I favor my rules more but bends have to be made and it is our job, then, to protect those bends. I had to accomodate Optos Retina Scanner one evening and that meant opening up the portals so the Optos people in California could enter their computer in-house and check image count. They were amazed I was HELPING THEM TO COME INTO OUR NETWORK??? Most administrators don't want that. Ever. But my job is to GET this fellow into the Optos server and so that goes with being on the client's side of the street too.

apotheon
apotheon

Well, I'll definitely have to keep an eye on that hamster treadmill feeling, try to keep it at bay.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... but he was a smoker, heavy drinker, overweight, and in charge of the ALPA. He was a bit over-stressed.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Some problems would never get solved if you could get them out of your head after punching the clock.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I've been guilty of going it alone far too much. So far, it hasn't bit me. (touches wood)

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

And your article is quite good, too. I have also seen many "have vim, will travel" free-lance programmers who call themselves consultants but don't consult.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Maybe it wasn't a coincidence. Maybe the Sheltie sensed some conflict about it in your own mind of which you were unaware.

alex.kashko
alex.kashko

But inthe last few years I have also made a rule of not working on a problem too long. I tell people "The peoblem that needs two hours starting a 6pm takes ten minutes at 9am next day" Basically, as soon as I start making more typos than usual it is time to stop for the day.

pablo.emanuel
pablo.emanuel

but my "eureka" moments come in the shower. I avoid thinking on problems at night, so I can sleep, but when I'm in the shower in the morning - half-awake - my mind wanders on the previous day's problems and bingo!

bettonirm
bettonirm

There have been plenty of times when I faced a frustrating problem that I thought I could not solve. I would spend hours staring into my monitor to try to figure out a problem. When I would walk away and go onto somthing else then go back to it, I usally find the solution. Somtimes the solution for one problem is in a different project. There have been times when the project I am working on has presented a solution to a differet project. Witch is why I have disk after disk of code from previous projects. I don't think I have ever drempt in code, but I have had dreams about a problem that I was haveing and was able to solve it.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

When I was in college I was working for the University Data Processing department and going back and forth between COBOL and the Assembler. At the same time, I was studying Hebrew and Greek. I would sometimes dream in a mixture of all four. I talk in my sleep sometimes, and my roommate wrote down some of the strange babble that came out of my mouth all night.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Walk-thrus and use cases are supposed to provide the client perspective, but as you noted they usually don't communicate the intensity of some seemingly minor issues or the tediousness that comes from using the product day after day. When I used to direct software development for a company that sold accounting software to CPA firms, I always had a picture in my mind of how the accountants used the system. Whenever I would go on site to visit one of our clients, though, I always learned something new about how the system could be used and what the rub points were. There's no use case like the real thing.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I guess by happy I mean "living the life you want to live". Naturally, that can be a difference of both kind and degree.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

If we allow exceptions to the rule of law via "interpretation" instead of following due process to change it (should it need changing), then we open the door to all sorts of discretionary powers of government. In this case, the only proper way to remove the right to keep and bear arms would be via a Constitutional amendment repealing the 2nd. I certainly hope that never happens.

dawgit
dawgit

Sort of like the winning goal in the last seconds of the game. Whilw most of the world is bewildered by that part of the US Constitute, I heard nothing nothing but possitive coments on the SCOTUS decission. Strange. It seems that even if people (here) don't agree with certain portions of the document, they aplaud when it's rightously up held. Rule of Law is paramont over Concept of Law. General (even popular)Opinions are just that, and in no way enforcable, while (Constitutional) Law is. Just my take on it. -d

dawgit
dawgit

I'm not sure how 'Happy' fit's in though. For me it's more of a satisfaction factor than anything else. Maybe I'm just getting old. -d

apotheon
apotheon

Well, I'm certainly happy with the news from the SCOTUS today, I'm happy with my SigO, and I'm happy with the way today's Iron Heroes game went (someone couldn't show up for D&D, so we bit-shifted to another person's game). I guess that makes for a good day. Actually, with regard to the SCOTUS, I'm pretty happy with this whole month (considering the decision in Boumediene v. Bush on the 12th, as well as today's DC v. Heller decision -- on the [b]last effin' day[/b] of the '07-'08 session).

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... I wouldn't worry about whether you're doing what you're supposed to do by not doing what you're supposed to do.

pwoodctfl
pwoodctfl

We would never permit our clients to run face first into a wall because they lacked a disaster recovery plan, but we tend to try to do it from the consultancy side....even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

VB.NET is so simple and easy to use that it more closely resembles a long rope -- with a noose tied on one end.

apotheon
apotheon

Too bad I'm not sure I can say the same thing about VB.NET.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

There's nothing wrong with a gun, either -- it's the character of the gunslinger that makes him a peacekeeper or an outlaw.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Ideally, what you want to communicate is exactly what benefit you'll be able to provide. Thus, exaggeration is counter-productive. The only "coloring" you should provide is the right light in which your prospect can see how you can help them. You're absolutely right about the fact that independent consulting is so much more than finding and doing the work. There's the whole business of running a business that can take up a lot of your time.

apotheon
apotheon

Don't blame Vim for bad freelancers.

ChipN
ChipN

You are so right. Many people oversell themselves (e.g., consultant vs. contractor, business intelligence expert vs. report writer, system architect vs. application designer, etc.) and usually end-up doing themselves a disservice. They disappoint their customers and fail to get the repeat business and referrals, or worse yet get a bad reputation. Customers generally are not in the business of paying a "hired gun" to learn. But, it can be done if approached properly. There have been times when we've made deals with a customer where they provide training (formal or informal / hands-on) and we don't bill them for that time. They realize that there will be some ramp-up time so we are investing in each other, but as long as the consultant delivers (and this was agreed to up-front) it has worked out well. The other aspect that I've seen so many time is that contractors / consultants fail to consider the business aspects of being independent. Accounting (bookkeeping, invoicing, payroll, taxes, etc.), marketing, sales, business planning for profitability and growth, etc. are usually an afterthought. Many of those people will work exclusively through a large contracting organization at reduced rates to avoid having to deal with this and avoid purchasing insurance, but this limits their growth potential. Planning and active management take time and effort, but add considerable value in the long run. BTW, thanks for the positive comments. Cheers, Chip

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

By late afternoon, I've either had too much caffeine or it's wearing off. That's when I make most of my mistakes. Better to spend that time reading.

bettonirm
bettonirm

I find I work the best after I have been awake for a wile and had some caffine. My best work comes in the late hours. I seem to get my second wind and get alot of work done.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

It's also the limitations that you unwittingly place on your own thinking. The "box", if you will, that you draw around the problem. Leave it alone for a while, and your mind will wander outside that box.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

It takes real wisdom to know when you're too tired to work productively. I don't know about you, but to my mind I seem just as sharp at any time of day -- but if I do something specific to measure it and I can really see the difference. From experience, I know that I'm sharpest first thing in the morning, right after a walk and a shower.

dmcaplan
dmcaplan

I call that the point of diminishing intelligence. Just as investments have a point of diminishing returns, if you worry at a problem too long your brain starts dropping in IQ points until you stop...

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

There's only so much you can concentrate on in the shower, so naturally your brain simmers on the other problems you're dealing with.