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Think Time

  • think-time modeling (structured thinking about why and how mental work takes time)
  • intent
  • checklist
  • schedule
  • today goals
  • timestamping (pre-task/post-task)
  • goal/task time estimation
  • focus timeblock
  • durable progress (value that is hard to lose/destroy; ex. well-stored toilet paper)
  • if blocked, change task, return later
  • if uncertain, prefer adaptable paths


  • goal abstraction (ex. going to the grocery store, going to get food, preparing food to eat now/later, preparing to live, living to feel/be good)
  • goal specification (ex. in this application, low-noise means under 50dB)
  • goal decomposition (ex. low-noise means both low dB and smooth sound-type)
  • relevant factor list (ex. safety, reliability, performance)
  • needs vs wants
  • feature list
  • application list (normal cases, edge cases)
  • ideal and real possibilities (consider a design space without constraints, comparing to one with today-constraints) (this is a spectrum space, not black-white space)
  • practical ideas/options list (design elements and categories) (a complete list offers brute-force process of elimination)
  • element combination (ex. multi-material design)
  • element division (ex. latch can divide into latch-frame, latch-lock, latch-interface, etc.)
  • minimum functional design (material, complexity, data)
  • single factor optimization
  • min-max analysis (of specific value) (task scope or design scope)
  • stack analysis (for sequential design layers) (abstract or concrete)
  • option tree (trunk/branch)
  • functional substitutes (what alternative functions/design-elements can somewhat replace this function?)
  • functional absence (what happens to the design/operation of the system without this function?)
  • user experience vs world state-changes (some changes are experienced not by intended users; instead by bystanders, other entities, and the rest of the universe) (world state-changes often indirectly affect the user experience)
  • second-to-second UX simulation (small time-segment focus)
  • A-Z UX simulation (step-completeness focus)
  • lifetime simulation ("cradle-to-grave"; development and production and distribution to operation and maintenance and recycling)
  • present-to-future simulation (reality-dynamics focus)
  • application environment simulation
  • constraint walk-forward (add modern constraints one-by-one into an empty design-space)
  • constraint walk-back (remove constraints one-by-one from a draft in the design-space)
  • first principles modeling (fundamental interactive laws)
  • basic elements modeling (fundamental elements for desired function)
  • false tradeoffs
  • breakable assumptions/premises
  • design path completion (do this for full-draft exploration/context; avoid tunnel-vision and first-idea only-idea bias)


  • current-reality research (ex. existing products)
  • peer review
  • guiding document research
  • history research (ex. past intergenerational upgrade logic)
  • experimental learning vs thoughtful learning (spectrum idea) (consider which is better for a specific situation, problem, current skillset) (ex. better to spend 1 hour thinking of problems and solutions than 10 hours building the same problems and solutions) (ex. better to spend 1 hour building problems and solutions than 10 hours thinking the same problems and solutions)