Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Update - Forgot the Enthusiasm Thing

Okay, so last fall I looked at what I've done throughout my life and discovered that I seem to get way more done when I am totally undisciplined than when I try to make things work.  And those of you who follow my blog know that I decided to try out a new strategy I called "Chasing Enthusiam."

This strategy had the very problems anyone could predict: lots of things done, but not a lot finished.

So I figured, hey, let's just try to mix things a little. I'll mostly be undisciplined but I'll add one little goal thingie, and rejoin ROW80, and add in a minimum amount of self-discipline to the mix.

And as soon as I did that, all productivity went right out the window.

This reminds me of something I noticed at the day job....

We had a very weird political environment must of the time I worked at there.  It was often, frankly, a downright hostile work environment.  Literally so if not always legally so.  My particular unit was incredibly productive, in spite of the fact that we had some managers who were intentionally trying to prevent us from being productive. (They wanted to cut us out, and also punish the larger unit that depended on us.)

So there were times, off an on, that we recorded every single freaking thing we did, down to the minute.  (We documented EVERYTHING. Not just the work we did.) If we'd had competent hostile managers this would have been a defense -- proof we were doing the work.  However the hostile ones in this case were not particularly competent, so we got even better defensive bang out of this:

Every time there was a new person in the leadership team, they would waltz in and say, passive-aggressively, "We've decided to set up a policy where we all have to keep a log of everything we do.  Isn't that splendid? Because we do so much more than any of you do...."

And we'd hand them the log for the past three months. Their faces would fall, and they would flee and not return for months.  Because no, they didn't do as much as we did, and they realized that if they wanted to look good, they had to deep-six the new policy ASAP.

I tell you this story not just because it amuses me (which, admittedly, it does) but because there is a side light to this story.

When we didn't have hostile, passive-aggressive clowns overseeing us, we didn't keep a log, but rather kept to do lists, which gave us a very good idea of how much we got done in total, even if we didn't have a record of how long it took, etc.  And this allowed me to discover something:

Productive as we were when we had to keep a log, we were much MORE productive when we didn't have to keep a log.

Tracking anything takes time.  Reporting on it also takes time.

This time and effort can be worth it. For instance: Logs are good for learning.

When you don't know where your time goes, and you are tearing your hair out to figure out how you can do better, it's a good idea to keep a log.  At the very least, you will find out how very much you do.  If you do waste time at certain things, you will find out what those things are.

I also think that keeping a log and reporting to others can raise enthusiasm for a group effort, especially when you are young.


It can also steal enthusiasm.  It can shift your focus to the group, to the report.  Same with time and energy.

So... (You knew I was going to shift this back to writing, right?)  I think it was a mistake to rejoin ROW80.  At my age, that's just not how I get things done.  It's a great challenge, significantly better than restrictive dares like NaNoWriMo.  But I was right that I need to continue chasing enthusiasm.  I get more done when I stop counting.

So back to normal.  You can expect continued Sunday Updates and Story Game posts on most Fridays.  I hope to get back to regular blogging soon -- but I need to recharge some of my enthusiasm. (It wasn't just ROW80 that threw me off recently after all.)

See you in the funny papers.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Oh, that's a great story! I hope you've murdered some of those managers in your books. :)

I'm with you--not great with logging (in terms of focus and productivity), *very* good with to-do long as I strike items off the list when I complete them so I can see how far I'm come.

The Daring Novelist said...

You know, sometimes I wonder if I would have continued working there so long if it hadn't been so darned entertaining working with those clowns.

And though none of them have showed up as a murder victim, I have applied certain traits of some of them to villains.