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"When you're doing nothing, what exactly are you doing?"

 
 
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 12:04 pm
I recently attended a time-management seminar aiming to optimize effectiveness rather than efficiency. The speaker argued that what looks like a time waster may not be but other activities are really addictions. He referred to the book on this link http://www.menweb.org/realivue.htm
Quote:
...a guy who was a lawyer who did very well, but when he came home he did what he called "unplugged." He went into sleep mode. He did nothing. He was medicated up to the gills. He had done a lot of therapy. ... I finally asked him, "When you're doing nothing, what exactly are you doing?" It turns out that what he was doing was eating steak subs and watching television until 3 or 4 in the morning. In my head an alarm went off that said this was a TV addiction and a food addiction. ...Then I said, "What would happen if we unplugged the TV and got you to a nutritionist and into some moderation in eating? Damn if he didn't have an anxiety attack on the spot, just from hearing the question.

Drinking coffee is an addiction? Pacing while dictating or talking on the phone? Checking news or email? Walking down the hall to talk about the ball game? Eating something mindlessly even if you're not hungry?

None of these are work but are they addictions? And do they help or hurt the actual work to be done?
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Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 12:28 pm
@electronicmail,
Quote:

Drinking coffee is an addiction? Pacing while dictating or talking on the phone? Checking news or email? Walking down the hall to talk about the ball game? Eating something mindlessly even if you're not hungry?

None of these are work but are they addictions? And do they help or hurt the actual work to be done?


Depends on what you consider 'work.' My job is just something I do to fund my actual work, which is the enjoyment of life.

Cycloptichorn
electronicmail
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 12:43 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
But you're still expected to produce something at work? Then you'll want to avoid time wasters during it even if it's not your favorite kind of work.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 12:52 pm
@electronicmail,
electronicmail wrote:

But you're still expected to produce something at work? Then you'll want to avoid time wasters during it even if it's not your favorite kind of work.


I do? Why? I enjoy the time wasters.

In fact, I take issue with the idea that these things are in fact 'time wasters.' Talking about last night's football game around the water cooler seems like a waste of time to some, but it isn't - it helps blur the lines between my job (which I only do because I have to) and my life (which I do because I want to). This is entirely to the advantage of my business, because my level of satisfaction with my job directly affects the quality of my work.

Steps taken to lessen my 'time-wasting' activity are not likely to increase my level of productive work, or the quality of it. Then again, it's not really an issue, because us Salaried employees are judged more on the overall quality of our work than the number of hours put in to achieve it.

In fact, I'm specifically told not to work as fast as possible - there's no benefit to rushing through stuff.

Cycloptichorn
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 01:42 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
I completely agree, cyclo. I used to work as a salaried employee in a medical research lab at a university, with the same sort of conditions. When we were on a big project deadline, we'd all work intensely. When we weren't we would sometimes sit around sharing stories, the boss being the best storyteller; at one point, someone taught me how to play chess (not all in a few minutes, but over some weeks). We would also jaw on about the implications of our experiments, depending on how they came out, and background re the set ups. This involved several cups of coffee, and for most of us back then, a bunch of cigarette smoking.
That place had a good team going and we published a lot of good, sometimes important papers.

Later I became a landscape architect. Same thing, except I worked hourly - but most of us acted as salaried. As a project manager, I often worked all day and into the night to get projects out to beat deadlines. I rarely toted up all the hours, because we had made estimates to the client re hours in the first place and they were always more hours, the estimated hours being set both optimistically and with an eye to getting the job in the first place in a competitive field. On the other hand, on lazy assed days, I'd go for a long walk, or we'd all (seven architects including the boss) hang around and talk about, oh, sports cars, or vacations, some invention we'd heard of, whatever. Naturally, clients were not billed for any of that. Again, we all made a good team, many successful projects.

And later, on my own as a designer, and, even later, with another designer as a business partner, we worked as hard as we needed to at any given time, still never over billing, and sometimes taking off for a good long lunch. Once we cut out to go to an old bar down the street to watch the Kentucky Derby. Again, a good team.

There was a recent New York Times article that I think relates to and somewhat refutes this business quoted in the first post, if I understand that quote correctly.
Discovering the Virtues of a Wandering Mind

Anyway, save me from time management gurus!
electronicmail
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 04:50 pm
@ossobuco,
Maybe you agree because neither his observations nor yours are pertinent to the original subject: pathological addiction to acknowledged time-wasters. From your own article
Quote:
.....mind wandering clearly seems to be a dubious strategy, if, for example, you’re tailgating a driver who suddenly brakes. Or, to cite activities that have actually been studied in the laboratory, when you’re sitting by yourself reading “War and Peace” or “Sense and Sensibility.”

If your mind is elsewhere while your eyes are scanning Tolstoy’s or Austen’s words, you’re wasting your own time. You’d be better off putting down the book and doing something more enjoyable or productive than “mindless reading,” as researchers call it.

see how "mindless reading" closely tracks the "mindless eating" or "mindless TV viewing" and other time-wasters listed on the link in the first post here. The author postulates a link to latent depression but that seems dubious to him as well.

Interactions with professional colleagues aren't time wasters, mindless activities are. Worse, the mindless activities may be addictive. That's what the original article says. I think so and maybe I'm wrong, that's why I post to ask.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 06:46 pm
@electronicmail,
Pardon me, I didn't read the whole link, and am likely not to.

I disagree with that in my own article. I like to wander mentally when I am reading books. I rarely scan them. I read and then think about connections to what I am reading, if my mind wants to do that. That is part of how the many books I've read have something to do with who I now am: those connections.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 07:05 pm
@ossobuco,
I'll add that from a fairly early age, I have also read for the sounds of words, the way they play together, in a kind of musical or poetic sense, or for the tautness of sentence construction and the tone that follows from that, besides the usual business of comprehending the words' meanings when written together.

Time management! Pah!
electronicmail
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 07:06 am
@ossobuco,
Quote:
Pardon me, I didn't read the whole link, and am likely not to.

Well thank you for commenting on the unread link anyway. You are to be commended for your honesty. I wouldn't dream of pressing you to read it, you might have an anxiety attack like the one described in the quoted excerpt.
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electronicmail
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 07:09 am
@ossobuco,
Quote:
Time management! Pah!

Time is all that's given to us, I don't know why you have such contempt for efforts to use it well. Some athlete's mother told him once "Later isn't always given to everybody" and imho that's the truth. But it's your life Very Happy
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