Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Work Stress: Is it Wrong to Create it Yourself?

Men Sunset by Hilde Vanstraelen

Men Sunset by Hilde Vanstraelen

For a long (long) time, I’ve known very clearly about certain aspects of my personality. One of them that I had always labelled as somewhere along the spectrum of procrastination and laziness was the trait of always leaving important things to the last minute. Whether it was the last minute homework; the university essay deadline extension. The professional examination cramming or the Board papers finalised minutes before deadlines.

I had always put it down to laziness/ procrastination whilst at the same time being surprised whenever I came upon the output of my ‘rushed’ work. Invariably I was amazed with what I came up with in those final minutes. I was often left with the feeling that ‘if only’ I pulled my finger out, and gave myself ten times the time, I’d be able to incrementally improve what I produced tenfold.

As I have become more organised, I have found that there are definite benefits to planning/ time taken in advance to prepare drafts and re-write etc. etc. There’s always a few extra ideas that come out after the initial brainstorm. A few more connections or deletions to be made. But still, with the application of a time pressure to the initial brainstorm (I normally give myself a time block and stick to it), little more comes out relative to the extra time I give myself. It actually appears that I (very close to consciously) force myself to get distracted to just give myself the optimal time for me to produce something.

I’ve now learnt that I can fill my time more (more outcomes/ outputs to the time) and get similar results to giving myself big blocks and procrastinating. It’s definitely better to consciously do this that allow myself to pinball from ’emergency’ to ’emergency’. And I am definitely not perfect at structuring this creativity in advance of a deadline. What got me thinking about all this was when I contrasted two positions in my head earlier.

In the first, David Allen talks in Ready for Anything about performance under stress. He says that ‘sometimes I have to get out of my comfort zone to stay motivated to do excellent work over the longer term.’ I likened this to my tendency described above.

In the second, Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain Tortoise Mind makes a comment early on about how we are hampering our natural creativity because in contemporary ‘Western’ society, we seem to have generated an inner, psychological culture of speed, pressure and need for control – mirroring the outer culture of efficiency and productivity – in which access to the slower modes of mind has been lost.’ 

I will keep on considering these two positions as I read more Claxton.

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2 thoughts on “Work Stress: Is it Wrong to Create it Yourself?

  1. Pingback: Mind Control and the Completeness Obsession « Just Seven Things

  2. Pingback: Time Management and Satisficing « Just Seven Things

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