In tackling a new project, I often don’t know where to start. So I experiment and see what appeals to me, what resonates. Of course my experiments are not scientific, and they are not very rigorous. But rigor costs. Each person must choose the degree of rigor necessary for any particular decision; give too much rigor to this decision, and use up the time and energy available for another decision, or for actually doing something once you’ve made a decision.
Though even “doing something” is nothing but making decisions. There’s nothing but decisions all the way down. When you make a decision, you choose an option, which simply means that you are immediately confronted with the next set of decisions. Make something? Write something? Fiction or non-fiction? Novel or short story? Setting? Characters? Doing what? Ending? Revise? How? For how long? Submit? To whom? And every later decision potentially impacts the earlier decisions. To choose is simply to choose another set of choices, and then another, in endless succession.
Not every decision deserves the same effort to get it right. Google super-programmer Jeffrey Dean makes a related point — about the decisions that software makes:
…his process often begins with back-of-the-envelope calculations to find the optimal trade-off between quality and speed for a given process. “In a lot of these areas, from machine translation to search quality, you’re always trying to balance what you can do computationally with each query,” he says. “Maybe you can’t afford the ideal [solution], but if we can approximate it in a certain way, you can get 98 percent of the benefit with 1 percent of the computation.” …
If Dean has a superhuman power, then, it’s not the ability to do things perfectly in an instant. It’s the power to prioritize and optimize and deal in orders of magnitude. Put another way, it’s the power to recognize an opportunity to do something pretty well in far less time than it would take to do it perfectly.
Certainly if computing time is precious, how much more precious is human brain time? Don’t answer that question.