I'm finding that a few minutes of reflection from time to time goes a long ways.
My natural tendency is to get into motion, to take action, to do things. But, I'm starting to see that I jump on trivial and mostly useless stuff sometimes for the desire to be in motion.
I was doing a review of my last week, and I came to a pretty amazing conclusion. If I'm working on big, important stuff with deadlines, the maintenance and day-to-day stuff naturally fills in the cracks, and things are good.
However, when my highest priority is maintenance/fill-in-the-cracks type stuff, I don't get as much done. Surprisingly, when I have less to do, even the little stuff doesn't get fully done.
So I'm starting to realize - just jumping into action without reflection isn't always such a good thing, unless it's clear what the most important thing to work on is.
It's tricky, because two of my largest projects are in a holding pattern. I've got no deadlines/deliverables for them right now, I'm waiting on other people to get back to me.
I didn't really anticipate this happening. My most time-sensitive thing to do right now is to reply to all my email and get the inbox to zero.
Of course, that's not particularly inspiring, nor does it feel particularly important. (I mean, it is important - it just doesn't feel important.)
I'm sitting in a cafe here in Kuala Lumpur called "The Coliseum" - really cool place, built in 1920, very 1920's feel to it. I'm not sure what I ought to be working on. I have a dozen things I could do, and I was just sitting and thinking for 15 minutes.
At first, I thought - huh, that's no good, I'm burning 15 minutes just thinking.
Then I reconsidered. Wait a second, that's exactly what I should be doing. Thinking and sorting out what the most important stuff is, and then getting on top of that. Then, inevitably when I'm busy, I'll reply to all the emails when I'm taking breaks from the big stuff.
I like being in motion, like taking action. When I'm idle and not explicitly relaxing, I go a little crazy. But now I'm realizing - no, sitting and thinking is exactly the right thing to do when it's not clear what's important. That's good time that should be embraced, not bad time to be fought. Otherwise you risk running the hamster wheel for a while.
I knelt before the statue of the white wizard, the relic Magical Zero Stone glinting in front of it, radiating pure oblivion. In the cracks and recesses of the stone was a cold and beautiful emptiness, and yet a wholeness, a completeness. An end of all things past, and beginning all things anew.
My sorrow and agony lifted from my shoulders. Inspiration began to melt the hardness of my heart, and I knew what I had to do.
"Okay, Commander Marshall," I reassured myself, "Time to gird up your loins, take your holy shield of email template, and fill your quiver with Google Keyboard Shortcuts. There will be rampant destruction, and then were will be peace."
In my life, I've written a lot of people who do interesting things. You'd be amazed at how often they reply - I've had conversations with top businessmen, economists, investors and financiers, researchers, and all sorts of other interesting and fascinating people.
Ah, you there, my Type-A friend. I'm glad you came today. Come in. What would you like? We've got coffees, teas, or clear still water perhaps? No juices at the moment, I'm afraid, I'm not having carbohydrates and it'd be fiddling with the devil to buy juice and then attempt not to drink it. The coffee is good, though, yes?
One moment. I'd like to light the fireplace. Maybe it's technically Spring, but this "Spring" in West Germany is chilly and cold and damp and grey, right down into the bones. But pardon me, I'm near veering into complaint, which is the exact opposite of the place I want to go. I'd much rather pull up by the warm fire's glow with non-carbohydrate beverage-of-choice and muse a little about philosophy and psychology with you -- and maybe it'll even be productive for us?
Ah, the warmth is nice.