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Photo by Yaopey Yong on Unsplash

Rise and Shine! Oh, what a lovely morning, you could already feel a touch of spring in the air! Alrighty right, let’s get some work done!

“I need to work on that document we started yesterday, need to send it off EOD”

“Wonder what happened to Kim Jong Un, is he alive?”

“Hmm… turns out he’s ok”

“back to work, Ooh, encryption! Remember the article on elliptical curves, need to finish that”

“Sure, but first, let’s get on with this”

“But seriously though, what’s with all the NSA backdoor talk with ECC”

“For the love of God, and everything else that’s good and holy, can we please finish this doc?”

“You know what, rather than just listing the recommendations, why don’t we also include a checklist for them to evaluate their progress based on the recommendations?”

“That makes more sense, Excellent!”

“Eminem’s new album is out, not an ounce of marketing and it’s out like that, let’s play it in the background… GOAT!”

“Let’s get cracking with the doc again”

“Coffee! We need Coffee! You just finished a cup of tea! It’s different, we, need, Coffee!”

“This is good progress, almost there!”

“That Mercedes DAS was some cleaver engineering, not a single race this season and it’s deemed illegal for 2021! Some luck. Ferrari really needs to pull their socks up, I mean like really up, like knee-high”

“THIS DOCUMENT! FINISH! PLEASE!!!!!”

“Remember what Cleckley argued about nature or nurture being the deciding factor for psychopaths?”

“Just a little bit more, let’s finish this doc and then we can think about psychopaths!”

“Done!”

This is a regular day with my partner, it’s a constant struggle, or Everyday Struggle if you ask Biggie. Why do you put up with this I hear you ask? Well, it’s complicated. See, most of the clever stuff, the out of the box stuff, comes from him. He’s the creative one. Despite the constant distractions, he also gives me unconventional ways of doing stuff. And also, he is good company! There is not a dull moment, But he’s kinda all over the place.

As you can imagine, this was not a sustainable way to work or do anything for that matter. Needless to say, I had to set some ground rules. Despite the benefits of having someone creative and interesting, I don’t think he should be allowed to be in control, because sometimes it scares me of what would happen.

Timebox tasks and have regular breaks — We spend a good couple of hours a day on meetings and discussions. Split the remaining time between tasks and short breaks, you know, so I get 85% and he gets 15%. It’s important to time the breaks as well, should not lose focus. Try to do something other than social media. If you are having a long day with no meetings, try to solve a 15mins puzzle in between tasks.

Switch between tasks — Avoid monotony. Surely, everyone would have more than one task at hand. Switch between tasks. One benefit of this is that when you take a break and come back, you sometimes get a fresh perspective of matters.

Have enough exercise, physical and mental — This is tough, but a quick 15 minute spin on the elliptical boosts your activeness and help focus. And for the muscle upstairs, do something that challenges you and interests you, there are neat little apps built to exercise your brain. This worked for me, because I can chose to solve a quick challenge in 2–3 minutes between tasks.

Minimize repetitive work / tasks — Seen those memes about spending 2 hours automating something you can do in 15 mins. I’m that guy! At one of my previous jobs, the employer used to track in/out times for some reason beyond my comprehension. I believe they thought people were productive every minute of the 8 hours they spend at the office. Anyway, if you get late or leave early, you need to regularize your attendance or apply for leave. Couldn’t bother with it, wrote a script that does it for me every week, done! Try to find creative ways to solve those boring repetitive tasks, which then become fun projects.

This arrangement works, we both get what we want, and I think we both benefit from it. Get the work done and also keep the Mask of Sanity¹ on.

The bottom line is, that we all have our inner demons and voices within. You can either be afraid of it and try to suppress it or give in and succumb to it. There is also a third option, that is to embrace it, accept it for what it is and let it be a part of you.

The good thing about owning your chaos is that it creates an equilibrium between chaos and order. And when you have this within, the differences cause disagreements, which spark discussions and result in solutions.

So like Eminem said, I too, am friends with the monster!

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