Doing more with whatever is available

Lime - Squeezed

What do you do with a little chunk of time?

Try to get the big thing done, or find something which will easily fit in?

The problem with fitting things easily into the time available, is that it relies on always having more time available than you need for any given task.

And life just doesn’t work like that.

If you only write when you have the time to write a good piece, you’ll never write at all.

Effort is like a gas (or video games) it will expand to will expand to fill the available space.

Sometimes you have to jam a big task into a small amount of time. To compress the work and force the mechanisms to put more into the system.

To overclock the computer.

To sprint.

Look at the list and don’t find the task which fits the slot with a need buffer.

Go 80/20 on a big task and get as much of it at you can into the tiny space.

When you do more than you think you could in a shorter space of time, you’ve just managed to supercharge the one thing you can’t get any more of.

At least once a day, don’t find the easy task which will fit. Don’t skip the valuable thing, because you don’t have the time. At least once a day, try to break the laws of physics and get something done in less time that it should take.

At least once a day, try to compress. Overclock. Sprint.

The northern line sprint

Recently, I’ve really started to dig a good sprint. I love any short burst of focussed work made possible almost entirely by the imposed deadline.

Write a piece about topic X to publish sometime soon? Sure. But write a piece about topic X, to publish by the time the Northern line gets to Highgate? Now that’s a sprint.

And this is weird because I’m a long distance runner. Every day to work and then a longer loop on the weekend, step, step, step, step. With no thought of the time, just the distance. Step, step, step, step. Just the relentless march of marathon training. And I love it. The steadiness, the endurance, even the monotony. Perhaps my love of these things I know others hate is why I identify so strongly as a distance runner.

But now here I am… sprinting… AND, really enjoying it. I guess I find this weird because I see myself as a distance runner more than a sprinter. For some reason they seem mutually exclusive. There’s no reason of course why you couldn’t be both, but we typically have a set, sense of ourselves – what we are and what we aren’t. It’s ludicrous, but not uncommon. I’m a generalist, not a specialist. I’m an extrovert, not an introvert. I’m a distance runner, not a sprinter.

Perhaps these labels help others to interact with us without having to think too much, but they represent a kind of closed thinking which limits our options in any given situation.

In our attempt to play the role as the extravert or the generalist, we miss a key moments and insights – both available to anyone with their eyes open to a wider range of perspectives. With our eyes open, we have more choices and more flex. More power.

We’re leopards who do change their spots. So much so in fact, that they shouldn’t be considered spots, more like active camouflage.

Today we sprint, tomorrow we go the distance, flexible enough to adapt to the situations around us. But if we don’t want others to pigeonhole us, then we’d better not first pigeonhole ourselves.

(written London Bridge –> Highgate)