am was sitting on a plane (to Boston) writing this. In front of me is a laptop (obviously), my Creative Zen Vision:M mp3/4 player (complete with around 10 episodes of dot net rocks and 4 of hanselminutes), a pen and blank paper, a couple of work documents that I have committed to reviewing. Of course there is also the 10 channels of in-flight movies and TV.
So, why is it I seem to be at my most productive on these long haul flights ??
My options right now are :
- Idle – sit back, snooze, have a few beers, do nothing basically.
- Consume – watch Shrek 3 (or reruns of Frasier and Cheers), listen to some music or podcasts
- Produce – get something done, deliver some work (or personal) task that adds some element of value
Well, I think I’m a pretty active guy, I detest not having anything to do, even for a few minutes, so I choose produce…
My quest for always doing something is not simply related to technical / work activities, it covers anything – when we’re on holiday there is nothing I hate more than laying in the sun with nothing to do – I will always ave a book in my hands, or be in the pool, or running, anything – anything but being ‘idle’
My wife / family think I’m addicted to email, because they find me sitting at the kitchen PC responding to email during the 2 minutes it takes the kettle to boil, or while drinking my coffee in the morning – but that is purely a symptom of my quest to always be doing something.
The same thing happens at work when I offer to make the brews for everyone. I walk across to the kitchen area, fill the kettle and switch it on. Then in an effort not to waste any of my time (or to ‘idle’ for the time it takes the kettle to boil), I will go back to my desk and start doing something (inevitably this leads to me getting focused / ‘in the zone’ and forgetting all about the brews until a short time later when Phil has made them.
My preference is obviously ‘producing’ – actually working on something over value. Obviously the ‘value’ changes depending on the task, for example I found an hour the other day and spent it (intensively) sorting out all my home PC / server backup strategy. At work I am (I hope ?) ‘producing’ and therefore adding value every day in various technical, management, strategy areas.
Second is ‘consuming’ – reading, updating myself on things, taking in information. This normally happens just prior to a period of ‘producing’ (understanding the ‘producing’ domain), or if the time available is not long enough to start on a ‘producing’ task (like while the kettle is boiling) or the environment does not support ‘producing’ (e.g. on a sun lounger in Jamaica – although I have sketched out architectures and systems on paper in this kind of environment, just for the want of something to do – all books finished)
Last is ‘idling’ – I don’t do this very well, in fact I do everything I can not to be in a situation that forces me to ‘idle’. Note: The exception is a glass of wine in a Greek taverna, overlooking a sandy cove on a hot summer day – this is the only real environment that I can tolerate ‘idling’ and even then for no longer than a couple of hours or so…
What are you – producer, consumer or idler ?? Now, back to writing that GPS code…