On change, on keeping up

My wife gets perplexed about a couple of things.

She has a ability that I envy: through force of will, she sits down at her desk and starts to work. Stuff (including my occasional observations) fly by her, without disturbing the continuity of her process.

On the other hand, I’m constantly circling the task at hand. If the right opportunity presents itself, I can dive in, and three hours later – time for lunch? We were going to do what, this morning?

She can’t understand how I get work done. And she can’t understand how I know such intimate details about that thing sitting on her desk that connects her to email and the web and to YouTube videos and the online New York Times.

Part of the answer seems to be how I’m wired, part of it is the times that we live in, and part of it is what my basic skills are.

How much of the time of those of us in IT is spent “doing” what we do – project work, responses to requests from our colleagues or customers, fire fighting – and how much do we spend thinking, reading, researching the stuff that’s not necessarily at the forefront of our concerns but represents the continual replenishment of what we knew about yesterday that’s irrelevant for tomorrow?

Hard to figure out the balance there.

But as I get older, fortunately or not, I begin to see the limits.  The hours of the day are finite; and the time that I spend in the present is time I don’t spend thinking about the future.  The time I spend in response isn’t time that I spend in initiation.

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