SO I was looking at a mega filled inbox at work today, plus office absenteeism, and thought about how it was going to take some time just to organize a plan of attack this morning. Nothing worse than having so much to do that you have to spend additional time just organizing.
One of my tactics is to find inspiration from WebWorkerDaily (hell, this is where I get half of my ideas), which linked me to an article at Gigaom, which led me to a New York Times article on media burnout from realtime reporting.
The articles are good, but a little depressing when you consider how wired into real-time updates and contacts we are now socially and at work. The era of the school teacher talking about how much work they take home as a badge of honor is nullified by the number of regular people who now work after hours or are wired in “on-demand” for their bosses. It’s a brutal world.
So here I am reading about working on demand and in real-time, looking at my inbox. And looking and looking. There’s no literary poetry to what I’m doing, I’m looking. This isn’t even reading. It’s staring into space and thinking. This is the moment where a soldier on an amphibious assault vehicle in Normandy is staring at a closed bay door, hearing the opening artillery and waiting for the thud of a beach landing, and the doors to swing open, rifle in hand, storming the beaches (no one ever does anything but “storm” beaches, right?)
So in the short-term, as I hold my mouse like a grenade, white knuckled, I see it, there, on the bottom left of my 3-monitor desktop: the Excel shortcut button.
There goes the flash of the grenade, the click of the mouse, and I start opening sheets. Macros explode and cells burst to life with data, but the maelstrom of desktop warfare suddenly changes. This is not going to be a day of data on demand, instant updates, and real-time updates. Excel’s columns and rows are the crosscut fields of a soybean farm. This is farming. The emails coming in marked “urgent” may be foxes in the henhouse, but today is a day for holding my own pace to ensure everything gets done.
I laugh looking at the word count that is updated by WordPress as I type; it’s already closing in on 450. I think back to those high school papers and college essays, the ones where 500 words were as intimidating as climbing Mt. Hood in high heels. But what a difference purpose and patience makes. Those are two words that don’t seem to fit in today in the real-time world.
And hey, if you made it this far, check out http://www.sp-studio.de/ to make your own South Park character avatar. My “thanks” for reading this article.