Leveraging Your Intuition

Have you ever felt certain of something, despite not having any evidence to back up your hypothesis? That was probably your intuition guiding you. For good reason (i.e., intuition is often quite wrong about things that you aren’t fully educated on or internalized), people spend a lot of time learning how to set their intuition aside. I know there’s no way I would have passed Calculus or Chemistry without ignoring mine.

However, once you reach a certain familiarity with a subject, your intuition becomes a powerful and useful tool. I believe the transition back to trusting your intuition is fairly organic for most people. But choosing the right mental processes to offload to your intuition is key.

The benefit of having an intuition that you can trust is that the effort becomes unconscious and frees your conscious mind to focus on other things. I also find it to be much more effective at taking a set of rules or guidelines and internalizing the intent or spirit behind them.

The downside is that it’s far from perfect. It might miss something. It might just be wrong. If you’re not careful, you might let it guide you down the wrong path.

Personally, I’ve come to rely heavily on intuition for dealing with architecture and organization. There are so many subtle tradeoffs involved that I don’t believe there’s any way that my conscious mind could really make these decisions effectively. By relying on my intuition to make them, stepping in with conscious thought for the tricker issues, I write and design better software.