the I of the storm

My first 3 weeks working at Netlify have been full, even busy, but not really hectic. I keep thinking they are hectic, because I’m working hard…but I’m not really working long (or anyway not longer than I’m willing to at the moment — keeping it under 50 hours a week) and while a lot of things are happening quickly, I think the main thing that keeps them feeling more surprising and less planned is a lack of planning.

I’ve definitely worked for companies and teams without much foresight. The Pivot, the Conflicting Priorities, the Right Hand not Talking to the Left — situations I’ve weathered at work before, but not at problem levels here. I mean, I have many priorities at work, but they aren’t conflicting — I just haven’t figured out what order to do them in! And there’s a little communication difficulty but this is also my first remote job, so I’m going to attribute that to the learning curve for Being a Remote Worker rather than this organization.

Nonetheless, the organization is new — employees 3 through 10 (me!) were all hired in the last 6 months, and the company is less than 2 years old. Nonetheless, we are funded and we are doing something cool that isn’t going to change dramatically (the service and product have a roadmap that makes sense that everyone — from customers to founders to the board — feels substantially is sane and where we want to keep going). So the challenge is in some senses bounded pretty firmly. Grow in a lot of ways (customers, revenue, eventually-but-not-too-soon, the team), but don’t change direction. This seems good.

from the Ed Sullivan show

What needs help is the inside of my head. I’m fairly good at plate-spinning, whose primary challenge is not as you might think balance, but instead, context switching, something I’ve trained for my whole life. As a member of the Attention-Deficit generation and its race to the bottom for shortest distractingly catchy sound b{i,y}te: THIS IS WHAT I WAS BORN FOR, or anyway, into, and I thrive…

…as long as I come up with a system to remember all the plates I have spinning. I’m great at reactionary work — volunteer coordination of a 10,000 person event — sure, done it a half dozen times! Firefighting? No problem! These things are stressful, but they’re bounded — the event ends, the fires are put out, and then I can drop that cognitive load of the spinning plates, happy again to have risen to a challenge.

What I need for this job is more thinking time. I’ve read a few articles about the benefits of making uninterrupted time to process and plan and they speak to me. Here’s one that makes many of the points I’ve seen elsewhere:

I think my firefighting would be more effective if I managed it a bit. That’s one of my goals for the next 3 weeks — to make (haven’t “found” it yet despite looking. This will have to be conscious!) the downtime to make sure I’m pointing my hose at the part that’s burning brightest, keep its plate spinning strong, and evaluate whether I even need to be watering some of these plates.

Despite or perhaps because of my love of variety and challenge, I enjoy consciously mixing metaphors ;)

I’m aiming to get meditation (and writing, a meditative experience for me) back into my mornings, and some intention into some part of every day. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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