Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A solid 17%

I met up with a friend and former colleague for lunch yesterday. She is bubbly, effervescent and dynamic to be around at work. It's hard not to 'buzz' with her nearby. She describes herself as high maintenance and "makes no apology for it". She is also someone who knows herself really well, what works for her and what doesn't. On some (many) days, she is absolutely on fire! On others, her energy levels are low and productivity seemingly grinds to a halt – but she no longer pretends to herself or others that she should be anything other than herself. Instead, she openly declares herself to be operating at a solid 17% on those days and knows that her output at other times more than makes up for moments of lethargy.

I am somebody who very much works in bursts of energy. A burst may last anywhere between several hours or several days. During these bursts, my productivity and output is outstanding; documents fall out of me faster than during coffee and Berocca-fuelled nights used to allow and all my thinking comes together lightning fast in various creative forms. People can't help but be impressed! ;-)

And then comes the crash, where I inevitably hit a proverbial wall. Everything is a chore. Files go AWOL. I look back and wonder what I have achieved (if anything), even though I have been 'busy' all day ... and then suddenly we start all over again and I'm off!

Here's an example:
I had set aside two whole days this week to work on a major project that I somehow finished in just a quarter of the time. By lunchtime yesterday I was done, 1.5 days ahead of my own schedule and with more detail than I had originally intended. I surprised even myself! But today is definitely a solid 17% day. I suppose it was inevitable.

My manager understands me well. She knows that the number of hours seated at a desk does not directly equate to levels of productivity or creativity and encourages everyone in our team to do whatever we know works best for us. She's a very smart woman. She currently has this quote (that may or may not have been coined by Einstein) as her Lync status. It suits me perfectly.

We were all having a chat about this in the office a while ago and lamenting that a conventional 8-5 working mentality doesn't always work so well for 'creative types'. (They've branded me as one of those - a description I quite like.) We agreed that a change of scenery or a complete break can sometimes yield far better results than just doing more of the same thing, albeit harder and longer than before. It certainly works for me.

A few minutes later, I received an email from my neighbour, CCed to everyone around us.
'I saw this quote and thought of you.

"The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation."
Ezra Pound, poet (1885-1972)

Despite the fact that Ezra Pound was a smelly fascist, he makes a good point. You should have more leisure time.'
Hear hear! Now, how does one get more leisure time?

No comments: