I don't know how you normal people do it. I don't have any management responsibilities. I don't have any co-workers. I am the master of my working domain. That should mean that I control everything, and yet…
I've been refining my workflow for years.
It never ends.
I recently came up with this new blueprint from my working day that involved dividing it into three parts. A four-hour concentrated writing binge at the start of the day, focused entirely on whatever my primary project of the moment might be. Usually a novel. Right now, The World War 3.1 manuscript.
Then I take my lunch, and maybe do a quick workout.
I follow that with two hours on my secondary project, usually whatever other novel I'm getting ready to lean into.
Then, around 4PM, a fifteen minute break for a cup of coffee and some chocolate or cheese or whatever.
And an hour or so at the end of the day for admin, blogging, blue sky mining, etc.
I have learned not to work at night.
To be honest, it all comes together pretty well. It's the first really reliable, replicable and productive routine that I've come up with. And then, I have days like today.
I had just dropped Jane off to work this morning and was heading home to get into my first four-hour writing session when the phone rang in the car and I suddenly had to turn around and drive across the city and do some tech support for a family member.
To be honest, it didn't take that long. But that one interruption was like a hand grenade tossed into the foundations of my day. It just blew everything else away.
I write this knowing that most days I have the rare privilege of doing exactly whatever the hell I feel like. As I said, I have no managers breathing down my neck, no co-workers constantly interrupting me. It's just me. And days like today make me wonder how in the hell the rest of you manage to get anything done.
Well John, I have been a manager in the past, and I can tell you it ain't no bed of roses. And disturbances in the Force tend to happen. As old Clausewitz used to say: "No plan survives contact with the enemy". Deal with it, and move on. Tomorrow will be a different day.
Add a little slack to your planning and treat the times you don't need to use that slack as a bonus. An extra to write that extra paragraph, to add that little nugget of information on the character in hand or to finally run that upgrade or your infrastructure. For me that is helps, but views are subjective.
I think the key difference is that an office worker rarely has only 3 different things they are working on. There's often half a dozen or more different productive things I need to work on in a day (not saying that I actually get to do those six things). Then there are the administrivia items thrust upon us by corporate (HR, I'm looking at you) that are apparently essential.
The flip side is that there is next to no way that I could justify time out from my working day to deliver tech support. Sick family member, sure. Family member's computer gets ill? Fahggeddaboutit.
But also, if my boss complains about me not getting stuff done, I can point out that they got me to provide yet another powerpoint on the project's progress. Rather than actually, you know, progressing the project.
I hear yah, I get emotionally wobbly when I find they have changed the layout at my local supermarket and I have to change the order in which I load my groceries.
An interesting thing happened a little way into the apocalypse. All of a sudden, everyone was taking meeting in Teams or Bluejeans or whatever, rather than shuffling down the hall to the other conference room, grabbing a cup of coffee at the kitchen along the way, chatting to the others doing the same thing between their meetings. But in videoconferences you show up not whenever, but within the first five seconds after the hour or they've startd without you. Meeting after meeting. Hours go past and you haven't had anything to drink, desparately need to go to the bathroom, and your eyes are going square. Productivity was through the roof, but everyone's feeling it.
What happened, was Microsoft updated their calendaring outlook thing so that you could default meetings to finish five minutes or ten minutes before the hour. Breathing space.
Now I don't personally have that many meetings, but I have colleagues who do. Makes a huge difference.
You need to schedule slack into your day. Much of the time you'll find you breeze right past it, doing something useful, but sometimes it helps to be reminded to just get up and stare out of the window, or wander around. And sometimes it helps soak up the unexpected.
Too much "efficiency" leads to no flexibility, which leads to no ability to absorb the unexpected. No spare hospital beds when an apocalypse comes along. No repair capacity in your docks when your war ships suddenly need repairs, because their order books are full for the next three years and all the old workers were laid off.
I don't get anything done. I should but I don't. I have managed to animate some cartoon koalas in the last few weeks. I have also got to the top 1% of COD MW players in the world. This really means the latest movie is no where even close to being storyboarded properly, but there are a lot of xbox players very annoyed with me.
I hope you weekend off mate.