Self Review. I’m quite confident in the core “you should be capable of absorbing some surprise problems happening to you, as a matter of course”. I think this is a centrally important concept for a community of people trying to ambitious things, that will constantly be tempted to take on more than they can handle.
2. The specific quantification of “3 surprise problems” can be reasonably debated (although I think my rule-of-thumb is a good starting point, and I think the post is clear about my reasoning process so others can make their own informed choice)
3. I’ve tentatively changed the title from “Slack Budget: 3 surprise problems a week” to “My slack budget: 3 surprise problems per week.” I’m not sure about this call. More thoughts below.
4. I’ve had some experiential updates about maintaining slack, which don’t meaningfully change the argument but give me some more depth of understanding.
The main uncertainty for me is “what’s actually the best rule-of-thumb?” I generated the “3 surprise problems” based on a thing that happened to me once, and a vague sense that similar things had happened to me before. I’d be interested in other people trying this out and contributing their own guesses about what worked for them.
Naming things is hard. It’s good if titles are short and memorable so they actually function as handles, and motivate people to action. It’s also good if titles aren’t misleading. My actual epistemic state is “3 surprise problems” is a good starting point, but mostly I want people to think about this for themselves.
Adding the word “My” to the title makes it a bit clearer that this is what worked for me. I think it’s also still a short enough title to work (it’s too long, but it still has a colon in it which let’s people focus on the ‘3 surprise problems’ part. Truncating it sometimes feels like an okay compromise)
This post mostly didn’t seem to get much traction, but a friend of mine spontaneously brought it up recently when I said that I was overwhelmed and wasn’t able to handle things. (She alarmedly said “Ray! You are supposed to maintain a budget for three surprise things per week! you said!”). She mentioned that it was important to her in her own life.
I spent the past year basically on the edge of my slack budget, often very overwhelmed. (I experienced a lot of hardship). It took me several months to figure out how to get back to having a decent slack budget, and it involved giving up some important things. I probably would have taken a bit longer to get back on track if that friend hadn’t mentioned my own blogpost to me. So, the post at least helped one other person, which in turn helped me.