trying to pace myself in a random way
My work life has become very intense and high-pressured. The pregnant colleague left to give birth this week to number six (mazal tov!). Not bad enough that she was leaving in the middle of one of the two most intense periods of the year, but also it was 2 wks early, by pre-planned caesarian due to lack of amniotic fluid AND breech presentation. She has been the Rock, the Source of All Arcane and Much-Needed Information, while I have constantly invoked, over the past year, the TMI law: Don't give me too much information -- need-to-know basis only, if you please. Keep It Simple. And, since it takes two to tango, I have to add that she's the type who would just as soon do a thing herself as spend much time bothering to explain a bunch of details to someone less ept than herself... which would be moi.
It's a disorganized company, and it's gotten more and more disorganized, it seems, since I started working there a year ago. (I take no credit for this.) I just realized that we've had a 90% turnover in our product manager team, which is shocking and appalling. There is only one of these managers left from the whole team that was in place a year ago, which means the vast majority are on various stages of a learning curve that makes them very hard to be helpful to my job: writing technical documentation when I know zero about the technology. It's insane. And right now, our flagship products are both being released in new versions, which means there is tons of documentation to edit/update and very few people around who know what they're talking about.
All this just goes to answering your silent (nonexistent? indifferent?) question as to why I haven't posted in two weeks.
How could I? There was too much work to do, and it turns out I have some semblance of a work ethic after all. My one or two regular readers will know that I far prefer to cruise through my 9-1/2 hours of forced daily labor, taking breaks in my internet surfing/blogging to produce the odd bit of output for my employer. Sadly, however, those days seem to be over. Instead of my omniscient earth-mother colleague, I now have minimal support from a part-time (barely 2 days a week) temporary writer on contract for the few months the colleague will be away on maternity leave. He is also religious, ultra-orthodox, in fact, and dresses the part. One learns not to judge a book by its fat, bearded, religious-costume-wearing cover, however: He's a pretty cool dude, extremely knowledgeable and experienced, and is thankfully a very patient teacher who is more than happy to share his technical writing tools and organizational savvy with me. In fact, he's made it explicit that his main agenda for the coming few months is to turn me into a confident, efficient tech writer.
It's kind of sweet to be someone's pet project.
Because I am really not smart about time-organization. I should work at this, since the concept of time pressure is my biggest stress. We hired a professional to teach our daughter the organization skills of a good student, and we only got as far as weeks of forcing the kid to create a schedule of her activities. We paid a hell of a lot of money for this lesson, and yet we're still not applying it. But some lessons need to sit with you for a period of time until you're ready to learn them. None of us (myself, Mr. Squarepeg, and the young ms.) are very amenable to being scheduled. We are free-flowing spirits. We do things when we feel like it. And that means that things we really do want to do may or may not get done.
We are not organized people. We are random people. And randomness, I suspect, would not rank noticeably on the list of the habits of highly effective people.
Probably randomness could not actually be considered a habit, anyway. Randomness must really be by definition the (non-deliberate) lack of habits. “Random,” says the dictionary, is haphazard, without definite aim, direction, rule or method; lacking a definite plan, purpose or pattern. I’m a very random person. In the past, I have been called both a dilettante and a loose cannon. Mr. Squarepeg has referred to my attitude as one of living in a bubble.
Highly Effective people surely must be the opposite of random. For to be Highly Effective they must make plans, and have the determination to stick to them. Highly Effective people, I feel sure, are committed people, whereas I of course am a commitment-phobe.
To the extent that I am truly random in my nature, my life’s course is determined by accident rather than design. Whatever happens, happens, “without regard for regularity or outcome”. But it also means, in the scientific sense, that I am allowing all life’s elements “equal probability of occurrence”. This reminds me of a "definition" of Clutter that I came across and saved, from I know not where, some time ago. I read it and feel much more patient with ms. Squarepeg's bedroom, which she insists she hates to see tidy (even if someone else has done it):
That is SO ms. Squarepeg, I have to admit, playing unconscious busy-games with herself. Is this randomness such a bad thing, really? I guess it depends on what I would like to see get done.
“Clutter invites us to make meaning in the absence of pattern.
Clutter tantalizes us, lures us into a relationship with material in a way that is far more interesting than discernible order. In clutter, you may not be able to find what you are looking for, but you may find something else instead.
Clutter may not be about the way we hide things from ourselves but about the way we make ourselves look for things. It is, as it were, a self-imposed hide-and-seek.”
If I sit down and make a schedule -- not in stone, but on a computer screen -- does this tie me down? Of course not, but the inner me balks at the planning activity itself. I tend to plan on-the-fly, as they say in the hi-tech world, aka 'in real time'.
Ooof, what a wishy-washy commitment-phobe I am.