Sudoku at 3am

For many years I’ve polished my word skills working the crossword puzzle. Occasionally I’d glance across the page at the Sudoku puzzle wondering how that worked, but not curious enough to try. On a recent trip to New York, with newspaper in-hand and the crossword done, I took a stab at the Sudoku numbers puzzle. There I sat, trying my best to logically figure out the pattern of numbers. Soon John took an interest and by the end of our trip we were hooked on Sudoku.

Last Saturday evening, I was working a puzzle with a level 5 difficulty and was so stuck that I gave up and went to bed. At 3 am Sunday morning, my sweet dog needed to be let outside, so while I was waiting to let her back in I took a look at the puzzle that had me stumped the night before. Within one minute of looking at the squares I discovered the one number I needed and a few minutes later I had the puzzle solved. Wow…my first level 5. (Yes, I woke John up to tell him)

I don’t know if it was the five hours of sleep, fresh eyes or just luck that I discovered the number that held the key to solving the puzzle. But, like usual for me, it made me wonder about how our minds work. Perhaps the uncluttered mind at 3 am was all I needed to see what I was too tired to see the night before. Or maybe it was the absence of stress that made the solution so obvious.

This makes me think of Raymer Bookbindery and the philosophy that Myers, the owner, uses to create his custom bookbinding. Myers likes to muse about a project and he will not be rushed. He knows through experience that his most challenging projects can’t be solved quickly. He is certain the solution will come to him, but perhaps in a time frame that is not necessarily in sync with our current craze of doing everything quickly.

That gets me to thinking about some of my more difficult print projects. Sometimes I don’t immediately know the best way to proceed with a job and I’ll need to make paper mock ups and discuss the project with my pressmen or production team. All of this takes time for us to think, to estimate, discuss some more and execute. The absence of time restrictions would be beneficial to every project, and although we don’t typically have that luxury, it is obvious that with additional time to ponder we would be more efficient at solving problems.