On the one hand there are those times where we all (well most of us at least…) see someone “just sitting there” or “just playing around”. On the other hand there are those times where we all (well most of us at least…) come up with a winner of an idea while we’re in the shower, or cooking breakfast, or playing cards, or…
There are those who will insist that “work” is primarily moving matter at or near the earth’s surface. To them that’s all work is. But in reality there is another side to it, the psychological side of work.
Sometimes the psychological side of work really looks like work. For example there are those times where my favorite table at my favorite local fast food joint is full of books, note books, and so on and I’m busy reading, writing or whatever. But there are also the times where there’s just the one notebook out and I’m doing more staring into space than writing. That would be because I’m thinking about what I’m writing…
Sometimes mental or psychological work looks even less like work than that. For example the day before I wrote this I looked to most people like I wasn’t working at all, I was walking around a shopping mall in old jeans and a tee shirt. But, at the same time, I was still getting work done.
Internal dialog as work…
In this case I had already gotten some writing done in the morning and even some research stuff done. But I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there.
I still hadn’t gotten this post written even though it was ‘due’ the day before. Heck I didn’t even know what this post was supposed to be about at that point…
So, I got up from my desk and headed to the mall.
I walked around watched people, looked at things, and let my mind clear out all the ‘stuff’ that builds up when I’m at my desk too long. I still carried my work with me (I’m a writer I can do that), but I set it aside and didn’t consciously think or worry about it. And then the magic happened…
I found myself thinking…
“Ok I really will be getting the editing pass done next week, and then I have to move on to other stuff. But, I’ve been trying for a month and I can’t wrap my mind around the time line for that next project…”
“Um didn’t that writing mag have an article about writing a book in 90 days?”
“And don’t you have like three of five chapters written already?”
“I suppose so but I need to edit the heck out of them”
“So do it… The book you’re finishing editing right now has way more chapters than that and you knocked this last editing pass out in three weeks.”
“But there’s still two chapters to write and both need research and other peoples buy in…”
“Yeah the one chapter needs research for history, but it’s the intro chapter. It’s giving background and summarizing stuff in the three chapters you’ve got already. So that one’s pretty easy.
“Um, last chapter… Other people buy in…?”
“It’s the last chapter, it’s other people talking about what they did with the some of the stuff you’re working on. You still have to get them going, but you don’t really need that chapter until the very end. You got the questionnaire and requirements already right?
“Put it out there and give ‘em a couple of months while you’re getting the rest done. You don’t need to worry about that part till like July or something!”
“Maybe… I’d better right this down…”
“Cool bro, and by the way why don’t you use this for that post?”
“Actually that’s not a bad idea!”
And then the visible work part cut right back in. Within minutes not only do I have a schedule to finish the book by the end of the year and a post idea, but I’ve got a few other post ideas and the process for the sequels in my novel series worked out. I actually knew what I wanted to do from now until December and December is clearly marked out as the time to figure out what to do for the next six months or so since I can’t actually know a couple of things I need to plan for until then…
The point of it all…
We sometimes forget (at least most of us do…) that there is mental work that needs to be done as well as physical work. And sometimes that mental work happens best away from our desks where we can get a different perspective and see around the problems to the solutions. Sometimes we will genuinely “run into” the answer while we’re doing something else (in my case change “sometimes” to “often”).
We need to give ourselves time to do the thinky part of work too.
There’s more to say dear reader, but it’s also something to think on and come back to. So, I’m going to set the subject down for now and come back later.
Give yourself time to think dear reader, and come back next week.