It’s crazy at work.
We hear that all the time from friends, family, co-workers, and ourselves. It’s one of the constant trends in the idle chatter that happens at get togethers, family reunions, and meetups of all kinds.
In the last ten years, looking back to when I was just starting out on the path that ultimately led to the creation of Sandhills Development, I can think of a few specific cases that truly warranted being called “crazy” or being classified as a “work emergency”, but they are few and far between, yet the near-constant feeling at work was crazy.
The work world has engendered this bizarre sense that chaos and craziness is good and something to celebrate. Generally when we hear someone say “it’s crazy at work” they’re referring to things are happening.
Okay . . . and things happening is inherently a good thing?
To me, craziness at work is a negative.
It’s the anthesis of focus.
Know what’s amazing? Not being tired when going home after work.
When it’s crazy at work, we’re always tired.
Crazy isn’t good. It’s terrible.
A few months ago I read It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work and it is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read when it comes to better understanding how to run and build my remote company. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d highly recommend it, regardless of the role or position you have at your place of work.
We tend to celebrate the constant motion and growth and excitement of building new things, fixing tons of bugs, shipping metric tons of features, and always changing. I’d like to, instead, propose we celebrate something else.
Let’s celebrate calm.
Calmness at work is attainable but we have to be very intentional about getting there.
One of the worst offenders I’ve found in our daily work is the constant connectivity and “status” of social media and real-time chat systems. When we are signed into Slack, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else that streams live information in front of us, we’re constantly bombarded with distractions and bits of information that we perceive as important. Our minds become conditioned to think that consuming live streams of other people’s thoughts is productive, but it’s not. It instills this artificial sense of productivity when in reality we’re aimlessly filling space in time.
For the last few months I’ve been doing an exercise where at the end of the day I write about one thing I worked on that day. A fascinatingly depressing pattern emerged: most days I barely got anything of note done.
If I didn’t get anything done then why was I so damn tired?
Since starting my experiment of writing about something in my day, I’ve begun to notice something else. If I disconnect from live streams, perhaps take a walk through the woods, and then focus intently on a specific task, I make great progress! And at the end of the day I feel good and not drained.
Live information streams breed a false sense of urgency. This looks important, let’s take care of it right now! So and So needs X now! Hey, can I get thoughts on this now?
When was the last time a true “right now” work emergency happened?
The constant jumping around and topic switching that occurs when we consume so much information in a live stream format is crazy, and it wears on us, even if we don’t realize it at first.
Calm at work can happen, and I believe the key to it is consuming and broadcasting information asynchronously.
Right now can wait if we let our minds believe it.