Tuesday, July 02, 2013

"Change in plans..."

In this post, I use the word "interruption" in its truest sense - something that causes a stop (potentially temporarily) to something else. This word can, at times, be loaded, but I do not intend that here.

I recently wrote about how someone gives me a glimpse and I'm off and running, mentally imagining when it ultimately becomes reality, impatient for it to just happen already. Good or bad, you tell me it will be and it will have already happened in the future. In some cases, then, dread until done. In other cases, impatience. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to the idea of time travel, it opens those possibilities back up - and has the potential to correct past mistakes. Or at least what I think are mistakes.

Ironically I had to stop after the first paragraph and close the laptop lid because someone came and demanded my attention in person (this was written on Monday while staying home because Lori wasn't feeling well). Demanded, however, is the wrong word. They came into the room I was in to talk to me. It was the right thing to close the laptop and focus on them, easier so because I was writing this post. What I need to work on now is the face I apparently make when I'm interrupted.

I've tried to figure out why these types of interruptions are so difficult. I think there are three (the second closing of the laptop, here, was a little more difficult, but it was quicker and I worked harder at it. Of course, now the laptop itself may end up being a clue to those who encounter this situation) anyhow, I think there are three reasons this is a challenge.

The first is that idea that the future has happened. So if I've set out to do something, to accomplish something, to go somewhere, that has happened. I haven't reached that moment in time yet, but it has already happened. So any extra time spent completing that is time not spent doing something else. The one area where I've actually gotten mostly really good at this is traffic. Through countless hours of practice, I've come to a near zen-like state (not always) in my acceptance of delays. Sometimes they still produce anxiety, but it's become quite clear that frustration, anger, etc. will not change the situation. The only thing that would change the situation is if I had left earlier or planned better, and even then, it may have been entirely outside my control.

The second is the fear that I will forget. This is most common when something really exciting has just bubbled to the top of my brain, often when writing or coding, that the idea is fleeting - ethereal, delicate, wispy, just barely within my grasp, and that if I don't do something with it quickly, it will be gone, replaced with a sense of loss. I suspect this is similar to being in the zone, you're focusing so intently on the thing at hand that to be yanked out of that is painful. I think that's the part about that "high" - which for me is when I'm feeling creative or discovering the relationship between something that could be better and what's causing it in the first place. So that often manifests when writing a post like this and it's like "ooh! ooh!" and I have to get it out before it sinks back down into the dark murky parts of my mind where it will nag at me like some nagging item I forgot to write down. (I blame David Allen. Before it would probably just float away. Now it nags from out of reach.)

And then the third is probably just selfishness. Whatever it is I'm doing is probably something I want to do (or at least something I want to be over and done with so I can get back to something I want to do). So when I have to stop, there's a part of my mind that's still holding that and humming that tone of the TV channel that's offline and showing bars, waiting to resume command of my brain.

So obviously, this is a case where I need to work at

flexibility - interruptions occur. This shouldn't be a surprise. This is a skill that I've proven can be learned and practiced.

trust my brain (or at least GTD) - if I lose this idea, more will come. (Or quickly scratch the thing down on a piece of paper.)

patience - be gentle with the interruptions. These may very well be more important than the original plan. Or they might inform, adjust or improve on the original plan.

planning - is this the right place and time to take on such an endeavor? Or have I chosen the living room at a time when others are waking up for the day?

reality - the future has not been set. No matter how much it seems. Certain laws of physics apply, but in any situation, the entirety cannot be known. You can plan as best you can in an attempt to avoid problems, but if you then blindly hold to it, you might run someone over.

observation - is an interruption about to occur? Could a more strategic self-imposed pre-emptive interruption be a much smarter choice than hoping nothing will stray into your path (especially if precedent says this is unlikely)?

strategy - an interruption may occur. How will I handle it wisely and graciously?

boundaries - is this something I will be able to do best without interruption? If so, it may mean negotiating with others for a period without interruption that's clearly communicated and delineated. If I need to read or write or code and that time needs to be free of interruptions, perhaps I need to announce in advance that I will be unavailable and for the length of time.

If this one seems to have far fewer typos and more clarity than usual, I was so happy with this one that I gave it to Lori early and she gave me back a page of notes which I've dutifully corrected throughout. So if this makes more sense than usual, we have her to thank. :)
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