A blog about the new generation of work

To hell with efficiency — I work best in bursts

I’m only just now getting back into the groove on this blog. I’ve been neglectful over the last few weeks as summer’s ended and things have ramped back up at my day job. That’s not good, and it’s probably cost me readers. Nobody likes an unreliable blogger.

But hear me out — I have an excuse. Of sorts.

The reason I haven’t updated this blog is that I have been, since the beginning of the month, completely and totally overwhelmed by work. It’s crashed over me like a tidal wave and knocked me off of my metaphorical surfboard and into an ocean of deadlines and high expectations.

I knew it was coming. I had all of August to prepare for this rush. But I didn’t. Instead, I took some personal time. Had a nice vacation in the city. Went out for lunch a lot. Worked on the back porch in the sun. I knew the freight train was coming, but I took my time getting off the tracks.

But I’ve realized during the chaos of this week that I don’t need to feel ashamed or wrong about the way I work. Some people do live in a world of precisely ordered schedules and timetables. They plan for blocks of work, making sure everything is in its place well ahead of deadlines. But I don’t. I’ve tried, in the past, to operate like that, but inevitably, in the face of actually getting things done I neglect to make a schedule.

I don’t live in a world of printed schedules, tacked up on the wall. Though the past couple of weeks have been absolutely crazy for me in terms of always being busy, I’m not feeling bad. In fact, it’s the opposite — I’m feeling more determined and energized about everything. In the face of a looming deadline, I get lost in the rush of working: of facing challenges, of problem solving, and flying through the creative process. I love to work in bursts — to knock out eight or nine tasks in a morning, bouncing from program to program on my computer.

This is where I thrive.

I’m not disparaging or promoting any style of work. What I am saying, though, is that it doesn’t really MATTER how anybody works provided the end result is delivered on time, and that the final product is good.

I think a big part of the generational shift these days is recognizing that the final product — the destination — is more important than the journey there. And that by simply accepting different working styles we can actually, as intergenerational workspaces, increase output. I know a lot of people would call the way I’ve worked “inefficient”, but where are the drawbacks? I work best in bursts, and shouldn’t any employer want their employee to be at their best?

Photo by moomim_lens. Licensed under Creative Commons

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1 Comment so far

  1. Jessica on September 18th, 2008

    I totally agree that the end product is the important point, not necessarily the process to get there. Good managers will tell employees what they want done and not what to do, but for many older employees, boomers, the process is important because our indulgence in technology makes us more efficient and productive. Even if you say hell to efficiency.

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