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Putting Work On The Front Burner

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by startinganew, Nov 30, 2020.

  1. startinganew

    startinganew Gold IL'ite

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    From about age 21 to 34 - for much more than a decade, I had the luxury of putting my work + university studies in the front burner. My days and life revolved around it. Everything else fit in to the breaks - friends, art, travel, family, cooking, home-keeping.

    But soon after having a baby, everything else fits in to the breaks I take from raising a little one.

    I have realized the intense dissatisfaction of not being able to be awesome at my job. And I want this year to be about getting back my groove at work. I know it will not be easy because:

    1. I feel my intellect dulled and I see myself trying to escape any tough questions I have at work to the the more 'pertinent' decisions of where to take kid out, what to make for the next meal or where to pick it up from, what to garden, etc.

    2. I rarely get long hours to get lost in a problem - enough time to make sense of it. I have to context switch out of necessity.

    3. And there are always ‘burning fires’ at work - that need to be taken care of immediately so it doesn’t give one time to get back to the fundamentals. how can I catch up with all the things that I missed out on over the last 4 years?

    Writing this out to give me a sense of direction and formality on how I can approach this. And writing this here, so any of you who would like to share your thoughts, critique or just comment on any of it - will do so. Happy to hear back from you.
     
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  2. startinganew

    startinganew Gold IL'ite

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    *Listening to the whole meeting*

    I have so much in my mind that I tend to zone out as soon as a discussion in a meeting is not about something that I am currently working on. This is terrible practice I have come to see. When I need “this other thing” - all I know is others were working on it at some point in the past. And I have to start from scratch - usually with rarely-found docs and reading through huge swaths of code - which is difficult when you have no context/background.

    My plan to tackle this - especially in remote meetings is to take notes and ask questions. The latter is so tough for me to do. But I am going to tell myself - if not now, then when?

    I tell myself, based on my notes, I can ask clarification questions after the meeting so as to not derail the current meeting. But I know as soon as a meeting is over, I get back to my work and there is not enough incentive to ping back individual with my questions. Also if you don't understand a specific point, you tend to lose out on the flow of thought in that discussion.

    note to self: listen to the whole meeting, take notes to not get distracted, and ask questions when appropriate.

    (seems obvious as I write it out, but need to try hard and follow this, this week.)
     
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  3. Rihana

    Rihana Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    This would be a good topic by itself too. Meetings -- how to listen, whether to tune in more or tune out... More so with WFH and no in-person meetings.

    Random question: could the time and mental energy devoted to taking notes and asking questions on all things be much more than the time it would take to do two or three things from scratch due to not having asked questions?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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  4. Rihana

    Rihana Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    The dissatisfaction has to be intense and continue to stay that way. The monkey in the brain should be constantly putting oneself down, kicking oneself.. or come the next medium size problem or achievement, the dissatisfaction dissipates.

    This has been my experience: there is enough time in the day to be intellectually sharp at work, invite tough questions and to also bring a similar quality to one's household chores and parenting. But this is not sustainable. Either the work or the not-work part of life has to be on a sort of cruise-control mode. If not the "diamonds in the flow-chart" become too much to deal with.

    I once told DH about the resentment I feel at having to switch context. I can feel it in my bones that if I have long hours to get lost in a how-to, I can create something close to, well, almost path-breaking. When he didn't say much and just nodded reflectively, I continued with: "you can do that.. just leave everything else.. and focus on what you want to.. be it your work or your hobby." More reflective nodding. I lost it. Out came the real thing I wanted to say: "You can do that because you know I will rant, whine, yell but I will pick up the slack ... I wish I could be like you.. "
    The wise man said, "You are right and you are wrong. I know you will most likely pick up the slack.. but I also know I will be OK with you not picking up the slack."

    In short: the long hours to get lost in a problem have to be stolen, grabbed, and fiercely protected.

    Let the dissatisfaction provide momentum and motivation but don't keep ruing over the things missed out in the last n years. Don't play catch up.

    Putting it bluntly: we keep thinking that as the child gets older we will automatically get more me-time. It is not so. At any time, it takes significant self-discipline and ruthless prioritization to find/make long contiguous hours to get lost in a problem.

    =====

    https://www.amazon.com/Atomic-Habits-Proven-Build-Break/dp/0735211299 worth listening to, reading in eBook and having as a hardcover on the nightstand. The author's weekly newsletter is also a beautifully succinct mid-week reminder/boost.

    I am re-reading it. Two things stood out in the past few days from the book. "It is the system, not the goals, that matters. Goals provide direction but the system takes you there." and: "Identity over goals and even over habits. There is a difference between 'I want to cultivate the habit of taking notes and asking questions' and 'I want to be the kind of person who takes notes, asks questions.'" The former brings to mind the image of well-organized notes available for easy scanning. The latter brings to mind an attentive person in meetings who asks insightful questions during and after.

    The author gives examples that are amazing in their simplicity. Two people standing outside, not having smoked in days, declining a cigarette offered by a third person, . One says, "I am trying to give up smoking." The other says, "I do not smoke any more." Both are technically accurate, but one identifies with being a non-smoker, the other looks at not-smoking as a habit he is trying to stick to. Subtle difference.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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  5. startinganew

    startinganew Gold IL'ite

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    Because I gloss over the details of most things that don't concern me at the current point in time, every next task I take up - ends up with me doing so much legwork to even get started with doing the task.

    But you're right - I don't want to ask questions to understand everything - just 'resume' asking questions. perhaps it is the lack-of-confidence that - hey I must have missed this stuff cos I wasn't keeping track of colleague X doing it or didn't read all the docs, or attend all those webex introductions to a topic, etc. So this attempt is to just begin being more aware of what is happening outside of my tasks - even within my own small team, not the larger group or anything.
     
  6. startinganew

    startinganew Gold IL'ite

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    Got to re-read this many, many times. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your response is spot-on - the kind of guidance, reminder and camaraderie, I really need at this point. :worship2:
     
  7. startinganew

    startinganew Gold IL'ite

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    Couldn’t keep up with meeting on day 1 of my resolve since I kept planning (adding/modifying) in my head what I was going to say for my part. So I wrote down exactly what I will say today. Hopefully this means during the meeting I only need to listen to others.
     

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