Stephen Wolfram Q&A

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Some collected questions and answers by Stephen Wolfram

Questions may be edited for brevity; see links for full questions.

March 16, 2020

From: Reddit AMA

Describe your usual day, worst day and the perfect day of your work.

I have personal analytics tools that tell me how productive I am. A very good day is one where I type more than 100,000 characters. (I wonder how this AMA will contribute for today…)

On a good day I’ll get on a roll and just start producing stuff. If I’m working on something on my own, I find my concentration period is about 1.5–2 hrs, after which I have to do something different for 30 minutes or so. (My minimum “do something different” is to walk downstairs and get a piece of chocolate 🙂 )

Much of the time, my days are meetings from beginning to end. My meetings are almost always “actually do things” meetings, where I’m working with other people to figure things out, produce things, etc. A good meeting (that contributes to a good day) is one where there’s good, real output from it.

Bad days tend to be associated with meetings where things are stuck. I like the problem solving of trying to unstick them, but sometimes they’re firmly stuck, and it’s frustrating. The challenge that I think I’ve gotten better at over the years is to not have one bad meeting infect others. Sometimes I’ll start a meeting by explaining that I was just in a bad meeting, and asking for someone to “tell me something good”. That usually helps reset my mood…

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