“The world of the interrupt and the distraction keep us busy. That of course does not mean we are productive. The basics are common sense but in a seductive trivia-driven world rarely common practise. Re-boot these practices: (1) Be proactive; choose what you are going to do against your true priorities (2) set your priorities against your personal compass of the key areas of your life: career/health/finance/relationships/fun and contribution.”
Nicholas Bate consistently brings the good. If I had a fantasy faculty for a professional development programme for creatives, he’d be a first draft pick every time.
“Now, email is a pot constantly boiling over. Like King Sisyphus pushing his boulder, we read, respond, delete, delete, delete, only to find that even more messages have arrived whilst we were pruning. A whole time management industry has erupted around email, urging us to check only once or twice a day, to avoid checking email first thing in the morning, and so forth. Even if such techniques work, the idea that managing the communication for a job now requires its own self-help literature reeks of a foul new anguish”
“I’m guilty of it as much as anyone else, if not more. Here I am talking about empathy, day in and day out, continuing to ignore my emails. Ignoring my fellow human beings, people who want to forge or desperately maintain a connection with me. People for whom my silence is waiting, wondering, irritation, aggravation, inconvenience, rejection, confusion, lost opportunity, added work, a denial, a sign. Yet I continue to not respond.”
Aaaand we’re back. Celebrated a birthday at the weekend, which fell in the middle of a zone of focused attention (redecorating, taking care of some familial obligations, attending to a few pressing deadlines, restarting some disciplines…), which has meant that I’ve been a little difficult to get hold of recently. I’m catching up now (thanks for the birthday greets, if I haven’t already responded to something you sent— I’m working on it!), but there’s a fair amount to wade through. And I’m thinking about related issues, the balance between the focus/attention the world demands from you and the focus/attention you need to pay to the things you really want to do.
I do as best as I can to be responsive. While that’s a word that’s been claimed by current coding and design trends driven by the explosion of different screen dimensions and particularly with mobile devices in mind, the core principle remains: there’s a wide range of people who have license (by virtue of the fact that I’m a creative freelancer and educator) to contact me, each with their own set of expectations. There’s a finite body of time I have to do “work” which may or may not include the requests and expectations of those people. And there are the things that I want or have to get done. Not to mention the time that must be reserved as personal. These things sit alongside each other like neighbouring countries disputing shared borders, each prone to launching full-on land grabs. The map is constantly rewritten. And I sit at the centre of it all, negotiating and keeping the peace as best as I can.
I do as best as I can to be responsive, and sometimes I fail. Sometimes the need for focused and dedicated time trumps my daily aspiration to get to the bottom of my todo list or empty the inbox and attend to every action item appropriately. Sometimes the weight of the inbox screams loudly for attention, to the exclusion of everything else. I must make things (text things, learning experiences, and more) but I must also do the work of managing that making and all the other things that come hand in hand with living in the real world. Maker time, manager time.
The major takeaway from Hess’ post is the importance of remembering the people behind the communications and requests that we receive. With that said, I’m slowly getting better at managing expectations (gotta love those auto-responders). At the root of it all, there’s always the understanding that I’m ultimately responsible for the constant potential for busy-ness— it’s the price of doing the business I do.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer or a baker. When the mood strikes you and you find you can suddenly make things happen, do everything to stay in that mood. Create, build, bake. You can always rework later.” – Randy Murray (via patrickrhone)