Do you know how you sometimes get that a-ha moment while not even working on a problem?
This is the idea behind the top idea in your mind. It's the product of your unconscious mind milling over everything your active mind had been thinking about throughout the day.
Most of the critical bugs I've found can be credited to this technique!
🧠 Fill your brain with the right stuff
There can only be one top idea in your mind at a time!
The key here is to make sure it's the right one! Undesirable ideas can push themselves towards the top of your mind! Paul Graham mentions money stuff and disagreements as two examples.
Focus is key, don't give your brain useless stuff to deliberate over.
🧩 Make sure you've got all the puzzle pieces
It isn't easy to piece things together if you don't have a complete picture.
Make sure you read through the documentation and code, play around with things and run the unit tests! Get a good understanding of a system's components and how they interact.
This way, your unconscious will have all the puzzle pieces it needs while wandering.
🗺 Give your mind space to wander
You've got to spend time in passive thinking mode!
If you're not taking the time to let your mind wander, you also won't receive the benefits of this technique. Being busy all the time might feel productive, but it's not. You're taking away the opportunity for your brain to work its magic.
Take a break from the information firehose that is the internet and take a walk, shower, or enjoy a cup of tea. Let your brain find all the crits!