How I find time to make thumbnails for my enterprise videos.
The most operational self-help tactic I’ve learned in years is: get comfortably flaking out on things. Missing meetings, being late delivering things, being unreliable, skipping studying Dutch today (and tomorrow)…just failing at living up to your full potential.
This thinking works for me because it tells me an easy thing to do: just be OK not doing things. In contrast, the positive version of this is “focus on priories” and “don’t over commit.” Those take a lot of upfront work and analysis: figuring out what your priories are is a lot of work! You get them wrong, people mess with them, they were stupid. In truth, I have no idea what my priorities are, let alone how to measure them. Happiness? Aligning to corporate MBO’s? Nurturing my kids? Being a good partner? Addressing the problems that make me uncomfortable living in the Netherlands?
Linking my daily actions to such big, important, abstract priorities is too absurd for me.
Even priorities cast in the mindset of The Cult of Habit forming, like “practice Dutch just ten minutes a day” are too difficult for me to do.
For me, what I need to do day to day is determined day to day. When this meeting was scheduled, it may have seemed like a good idea, but now I realize it’s not. I need to go get a lightbulb for that new lamp or write a blog post about DevOpsLoop for tomorrow. Something more important has come up. Or just more interesting and fulfilling - “happiness” was life priority right….errr….?
This is far from advocating that you should not finish what you started. Rather, it’s that you should shut down starting things in the first place.
That’s poorly phrased. Maybe: “Do less”? Maybe: “want less”? Maybe: “don’t try.”
The other tactic is to start fending off other people asking for help, your input, and getting involved. You’re on a big email thread (worse: Slack!) and there’s that dangling “so…someone should do this…” thing. Oh, sorry, I didn’t see this until too late…
You also ask people who want your help directly “what do you want me to do?” So many corporate interactions fit into the category: let’s meet to see if you can do something to help me with my problems. It’s kind of a “please work on figuring out something you can do for me.” To flake out and be responsible, I try to throw the new work-generation ball back to them: “what do you want me to do here?” And, usually, whatever the result is they just want a collaborator, or you to do something that advances their goals more than yours. Those are things to flake out on, to not even agree to doing in the first place.
Also, you have to be comfortable with watching other people fail and struggle. I too often feel responsible for helping other people succeed, consulting with them and taking on work to reach their goals. I feel guilty when they flail about. It’s something like cringing at seeing someone else do an embarrassing thing. Helping them is a lot of work, though, and requires commitment and collaboration. Those are two things I’m terrible at and that damage my own work.
I don’t know. Do less and fail other people more. If you’re a workaholic like me, you’ll probably be happier.
Next month is DevOps Loop. It’s a conference I’ve been helping out together and it has an outstanding talk list. I’ve worked closely with several speakers to curate talks on things I’m interested in and that they’re excited about. Register and attend for free, it’s October 4th.
When you’re presenting to a large group of people, seek out two or three people who are watching you, smiling, nodding their head. These are your friendly people. Go back to them again and again - maybe only look at them! Keep your eyes on the people who appreciate what you’re doing and you’ll be less nervous, and then able to focus on content, on having a good time.
(If you’re online only, you don’t need this. You’re just talking into the Internet. The lack of realtime feedback can be relaxing.)
Pretty good animations at the end!
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And remember to check out, register for, and attend DevOps Loop, Oct 4th. I made sure it’ll be awesome!