I'll be honest, I'm already in bed for the night and just remembered I was supposed to write something today. It's 9:54PM. I just finished work 10 minutes ago. See previous entries on needing to set better boundaries and timebox the stuff that overflows the day. Given literally nothing else happened today beyond making breakfast and working, perhaps I'll just take a meander down the thought process (or maybe lack of thought process) that had me tacking an extra 3 hours onto the end of my workday...
Today is what I would characterize as a pretty typical "process meeting" workday. I had some 1:1s with people on my team, I had some 1:1s with my cross-functional partners, and I had some "let's get aligned" sort of meetings. There was minimal creativity, problem-solving, or accomplishing today. It's the sort of day where I might walk away going "What did I actually do today?" Sure, I did my job, because a big part of what I need to do is keep aligned with my team, cross-functional folks and ongoing projects, and connecting dots. But, for the most part, it wasn't anything that required any particularly taxing level of brain usage.
One of those "let's get aligned" meetings, however, was on a new team and functional area that I'm picking up and getting ramped up on. If you pair the added scope with the need to feel like I did something, it's pretty easy to see how I ended up accidentally (or maybe just unknowingly) throwing in 3 extra hours.
I love organizing things. I love finding tweaks, processes, systems that make things work better. I have the latitude to do that at multiple levels at work - whether that's improving the actual products we sell, improving how we build them, improving how my areas of the organization are set up and optimized to work better. I love the stuff. I really can spend hours and hours on it without noticing. It's almost always a fun puzzle. But, it's also the thing that can suck me in to the point where all I've done in a day is shower, cook and eat breakfast, and sit at my desk for 12 hours straight before going to bed. Today was one of those days.
In the meeting about this new area, I found myself finally having enough information to spot some patterns. Or, more accurately, spot the anti-patterns and lack of processes. Once I see something, I have to get my head around whether it is actually something that needs to be addressed, and then how I might want to approach fixing it. Thus, a 3-hour adventure into the various existing docs for this team to understand how they've been thinking about things to-date and putting together my own perspective on a framework for how we might tackle the lack of organization and process. 3 uninterrupted hours, some music, no one to bother me, a whole bunch of stuff to sift through, and the goal of making it all make sense in a way that can move people forward. It's pretty much the ideal.
One of my work goals this year is figuring out how to make that sort of work a bigger part of my week, and ideally as part of the actual workday. But, if I'm being honest, I can almost never do that sort of work during daylight hours. It's something that my brain seems only able to tackle in the lull of the evening. I always do these sorts of deep thinking/organizing/articulating type things after the day has ended and I can finally come up for air, go into my zone, and just go at it until I'm done without fear of interruption. I don't know if that's a function of habit or what, but even if I set myself a block of 3 hours in the middle of the day to work on something like this, I can't see myself actually doing it at that time. Maybe, what I really need to do, is anticipate these sorts of deep-dives and schedule the earlier part of my day with more life balance things.
So, I guess all of that is to say, I don't regret spending the extra time on this. It was fun, and I made the choice to spend more time on it. I do, however, regret not making and eating dinner, saving some time to catch up on Twitter or Instagram or YouTube to relax, and or having done literally anything else besides work today. I'm not starting work until noon tomorrow to try to balance out tonight's extracurricular endeavor, or at least that's what I'm telling myself right now. I need to hold myself accountable to that. Ultimately, I need to figure out how to make space for this sort of thing that does, indeed, spark joy, while still maintaining a healthy and balanced life. And eating dinner.