Home » Posts tagged 'productivity'
Tag Archives: productivity
It’s my most often used description of myself by myself – I’m total blue sky. As it currently stands, I’m beginning to hate myself for it. I am experiencing almost nothing kinetic in my desire to create, or build, or usher in change on any level outside of those relegated to hygiene. I am not going to sit here and spout of a parade of pity that defines me as depressed or mentally unstable, however the latter might still somewhat apply.
While I may not be the proper medical definition one might assume when they hear the phrase “mentally unstable”, I do feel like some kind of imbalance is existing and has existed for quite a while between my ears. It may not be chemical, or even all that physical. It could be some sort of bizarre emotional or even physiological malfunction that has decided to plague me. Yes, I say physiological only because I feel as though I am actually having trouble living. Again, I do not mean to diagnose myself with some sort of physical or mental malady of perfect scientific description, but when looking out into the rest of the world feels like a chore, there is probably something going wrong that I need to be more aware of.
Specifically, I must narrow down what exactly I mean when I say that it feels like a chore. Being blue sky, black box, or otherwise (some might try and use the term ‘knowledge worker’, but I feel as though I am probably under-qualified to have such a nameplate attached to me) leaves me with what is really a desire to see differences in the world, in as many different ways as possible. I might wish to see a building painted a different way, or a school campus laid out to be more functional, or I might want to see politics as we know them jettisoned into the sun and started fresh from scratch, because while I do not have any sort of hardcore political views I find myself disgusted by the very discussion of them. Granted, there is a big difference between a coat of paint and a political revolution, except for that simple idea of change.
I am not trying to pedestal myself and megaphone that I’m the only one who has ever thought to do things differently or to make a call to action for change, and I am most definitely not one to go on crusades to have all of society wadded into a ball and tossed out with the trash, regardless of whatever it is that may be wrong with it. I must learn to live with the idea that whether I like it or not some set of circumstances has put me where I am, has put you where you are, and has put everyone where they happen to be at any given moment of their lives. I don’t have a special place I can go to or a machine I can turn on to give me any second chances. All I have is my mind, constantly analyzing as much as it possibly can, and sadly doing little else. There is a notion amongst the creative community that one of the biggest problems with having a vast imagination is that it is incredibly easy to visualize all the ways in which potential projects can go horribly wrong, and not even begin them as a result. Even if the chances of failure are relatively small, or rely on various situations to take place which might never take place, the creative mind will excuse itself from continuing down the path in front of them and return to the hilltop, flat on its back and gazing above to that forever-stretching blue sky.
Getting me off my back and down a path is proving monumentally difficult. This is most likely because when I do decide to stand up and look around the hill is such a deluge of paths that I quickly get lost trying to figure out which one leads to happiness – if any (there goes that creative failure module again). So I return to the sky, hoping while my attention is diverted that the paths disappear and leave me with way few options. I’ve tried, numerous times, to sort out those paths, but I inevitably find paths that branch from paths, some I never knew even existed until I walked one step down a path only to suddenly be surrounded by living trees, giant birds, and a rusty Tin Man that I definitely was not seeing from my safe hilltop vista.
I don’t, as of yet, have any sort of solution for this. My mind is a Gordian Knot, and even the greatest of swords are being destroyed by the mere suggestion of cutting through my brain and ruling with enough of an iron fist that I find concentrating on what makes me happy (whatever that is) an actual rewarding experience that can forever change not only my life but possibly the world (a worthy goal if there ever was one). So far, there is no iron fist in sight. No fist, no sword, no path. Only blue sky.
Imagine a newspaper headline – international news, amazing discovery, in the year 2011 we finally know that 2 plus 2 equals 4.
Let that sink in for a minute, and begin to realize the silliness comes from the simple fact that everyone already knows that obvious piece of information. Now expand your brain cloud and see the path I am inching my way down. Everyone knows that effort is important. Most people probably even know why it is important, but I suspect very few believe that they know with absolute certainty why Effort really matters. In effect, it actually is nothing more than simple math. We can all do that math and we are all quite aware of the equation needed to create Work.
Effort plus Time plus or minus Variables equals Production, or Productivity. Remember that I classify a variable as anything that is technically out of your control unless Effort is applied to change it. Effort is the part of the equation that is entirely controlled by us. Sure, one can say that at their place of employment they could want to expend all the effort in the world, but some outside force is holding them back from doing so. Fair enough, but I counter that argument by reminding that person that their job function does not need to be where their effort is, even during working hours. If a variable forces a productivity shutdown on one bit of workflow, move to something else. Move to anything else. Production isn’t always about a part-time job or a thirty-year career, it is about producing. Even if all you do at your job during that lull is rack your brain for a shopping list or ideas for weekend chores around the house, that still takes effort and you are still producing. No effort, no production. Effort matters.
Everyone has the same minimum amount of Effort they can apply (I am really going out on a limb for that factoid), but everyone also has a minimum and maximum tolerance for the effort they want to use on a given task. The more important the task, hopefully, the more effort is used in completing it. Everyone also has a list of roughly infinite things that they almost assuredly cannot do no matter how much effort they exert. This is that “minus Variable” situation. I could work sleepless nights for the next two years and probably have no incredible grasp on brain surgery.The variable of the information required would stop me cold and fast. Blood would also not be a fun variable to mess with. I’m not that kind of person. But if you put me down in a tiny chair next to a five-year old and task us each with long division, that kid could try with every single fiber in his being to do that math, but I would have very little trouble smoking through as many questions as needed to prove a point (the point that I’m smarter than a five-year old, I think).
Effort matters at every stage of every production. Effort matters even when we really would rather it not, like when we toss and turn for two or three hours trying to sleep. We are wasting an enormous amount of effort in order to do something that takes absolutely no effort outside of involuntary body functions. Effort matters because laziness is a skill. People put effort into being sloth, an emotional zero and one that does not seem to exist on my switchboard. Effort also matters because everyone knows it is really, really, really difficult to sustain when the variables start to crunch down. Showing sustainability is a core piece of the productivity puzzle, a piece a lot of people look for but may not even truly understand the concept of.
Bosses, Supervisors, Managers, etc. all want people who do their work as close to the mannerisms of a machine as possible. Machines don’t get lazy (unless they break, of course), machines don’t get angry at the sudden increase in effort they might be hardwired to give now that some deadline has been moved up and production numbers have skyrocketed. Machines have no emotion – a key variable that can destroy (or heighen) effort in less time than it takes to answer that 2 plus 2.
If you feel you are the kind of person that finds emotion to be more of a driving force in your workflow than Effort, remind yourself that the harder you push yourself when you are not emotional will allow you to get emotional without ruining your work. No one can turn off their emotions, but it can be almost a completely effortless task to work around them. Most people know what situations bring out which flavors of emotion, and usually can see them coming. Whether or not they are strong enough to stop those emotions is talk for another time, but if you know that every single day at your job you are going to get angry for ten minutes, prepare for that anger so that when it arrives you can cool yourself down without clogging up the productivity pipes you had flowing. Be aware of the variables, be aware of the goals, and be aware that effort is the beginning of a solution, not a punishment. Hard work will always be hard. 2 plus 2 will always be 4, and effort will always matter.