Braindump


Yeah, I’ve been busy again. Very.

The thing about working in large corporations is that you usually have fairly big things going on now and then, some of which tend to take entirely too much of your time.

And although I’m all for being enthusiastic about work, I find it that I am much more enthusiastic about a fair balance between work and private life, more so when it’s obvious that I need to compensate for the excesses of yore and aim to have proper amounts of rest and relaxation – without which I now find myself functioning below par.

There’s a lot to be said (and written) about the transition from gung-ho knowledge worker to middle-aged parent and how you need to be careful with the order in which you mix such sensitive ingredients. I suppose that will be a recurring theme here over the next few years, but I might as well take a stab at it right away (I hate postponing things).

To me, it’s all about getting the right mix of flexibility, enthusiasm, and order, with the one in the middle being the fulcrum on which you balance the other two.

And although freely admitting that enthusiasm for work and business has been somewhat diminished by the current state of economic downturn, I’m more than happy to believe it to be balanced by family stuff (which is fun, regardless of the added physical and psychlogical strain of having to mind a toddler).

It’s not as if you’re going to love your work 100% of the time, ever. Steve Jobs delivered a memorable and moving speech back in 2005 regarding this, but I am still in the process of connecting my personal set of dots and have adjusted to the usual ups and downs in morale and motivation by trying to think ahead years in advance.

All of the bad stuff will, eventually, go away. And I have plenty of good stuff going on right now.

Which means I now have around zero time for any kind of stuff that isn’t family-related, and if I have half an hour to spare at home, I’d much rather rest than read, peruse the news or fool around a bit with my personal projects. Work is, no matter how interesting, pretty much the last choice – I need my mental hygiene outside the office, and I need it bad.

As to flexibility and order, well… Flexibility these days is understood as being the number of different things you can juggle at any one time, and I boost mine through trying to maintain an almost obsessive degree of control over my time and environment – it’s not that I fret over wasting time or having things always neatly arranged (which I definitely don’t) – it’s just that things need to mean something to me.

I do order in a rather dynamic way, by systematically organizing and re-organizing stuff in whatever way makes the most sense for the stuff I have to do at the moment. And over the years, I’ve found that Mind maps are a great way to go about that in the broadest sense, with only two major shortcomings:

  1. They are pretty much worthless if you have to collaborate with other folk. You can use them to brainstorm, summarize or present an initial idea, but most other folk won’t use them and:
  2. They handle very poorly over time – after six months, you have to start all over because the problem space is completely different and the maps are crowded with irrelevant stuff that piled up inside.

Add to that people’s usual attention span (I’m atypical in that I can/need to keep track of stuff over years without much trouble), and you’ve got quite a few interesting problems in terms of Knowledge Management that I’d love to be able to fix (for real) without becoming one of those vacuous consultants that can’t find their way out of a paper bag.

But that’s not really the point – more of an interesting sideline I’d like to explore later, in another of those half hour slices.

This one’s up.