The Firehose

Down The Drain

Post-conference, there are two firehoses.  One, all the ideas generated by the conference that you want to try out right now. And two, all the work you have to catch up on because you were at a conference.  So yesterday, I tackled the latter and I’d love to tell you that today I’m going to tackle the former, but alas, I have more of the latter to deal with.

When I was in grad school, I sometimes struggled with working outside of “regular” hours.  My first go around in grad school when I was just out of college, that meant, generally about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Maybe.  Sometimes I got up later.  For obvious reasons I had trouble getting everything done.

Later, after kids and regular jobs had molded me a little more, I got better at it, and actually, what I got better at was efficiently getting things done while my kids were in daycare.  Occasionally, very occasionally, I would work on something after they went to bed.  But I protected my time.

During the dissertation writing phase, when I was also working a 9-5 job, that went out the window.  Long-time readers might remember my chronicles of working in the morning before the kids were awake and working hours after they went to bed, and Mr. Geeky dealing with them on the weekends.  That lasted about a year and a half.

To deal with the firehose (which happens to be full force right now but is pretty much an every day thing), I combine these strategies.  I try to be as efficient as I can during the day and keep my head down and plow through what needs to get done.  But, when I still have work left over, or if I have a day full of meetings so that no work is getting done anyway, I work around the edges of my day.  I take time to have dinner, talk with my family, maybe go for a walk, but then I get back to work.  And I only work a little.  I have a time limit.  Unless I’m meeting a deadline, the email, the report, all of it, will still be there the next day.

I’ve also learned that a lot can get done in 10 minutes or 20, whatever you have between things.  And I’ve learned not to turn anyone away that shows up at your door, no matter how strong the firehose.  When you stop listening to people, you’ve lost the purpose behind the firehose in the first place.