Having read recently about The Top Idea in Your Mind (thanks McMichael!) and reading about getting things done, I am positing that the best day to work on the hard task is Monday. (And yes, I realize that I’m procrastinating right now—baby steps.)
I’ve gotten to the point in my work/life-balance where I can actually put my work down at the end of the day on Friday (eventually) and largely not consider it until Monday. This is an improvement over having my wife wondering why I’ve sequestered myself in the office to connect to work over VPN and twiddle some bits. On the other hand, since I don’t do a prep-time for work Sunday night (and I may yet adopt this behavior), on Monday morning, I’m generally thinking only of personal Deep Thoughts™ rather than the work break-through I might be needing.
This comes to, until now, what had been my general Monday workday makeup: 75% reading through new e-mail and re-reading through last week's e-mail and piece-wise following up on the low-priority but small-cost items that I could accomplish. 25% contemplation of the actual task for which I’m either planning, or worse planning to plan. My estimation is that I don’t actually “page in” enough context by the end of the day for good analysis, and so it’s only Tuesday where I actually start useful work on the hard problems.
Thus, I have the intuition that pushing the small bits until Tuesday (or later) is the right way. Even if I don’t make real progress on Monday, spending enough time to fully consider the problem allows for a Monday night dream-solve and Tuesday morning shower-revelation, and probably sets the stage for even better progress on Tuesday.
The little bits are always something that can be dealt with in the interstices that inevitably occur during planning and development. (There’s a reason to have multiple machines and/or multiple source control enlistments simultaneously—parallel processing for the win!) And since they don’t need the same context switch, or have the same priority, best to postpone them until you’re already on a roll.
Now, to buckle down and implement this plan…