Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Random Thoughts of a Workaholic

Random Thoughts of a Workaholic

I've been holed up at home for the past few days, trying to get some work done. For a while now I've been working from all the Starbucks, Coffee Bean and San Francisco Coffee outlets in Subang Jaya, PJ and KL but recently I found that my productivity level has dropped. Perhaps I'm starting to get lazy. Whatever it is, I realized that I have to do something to halt this slide.

Like how a football coach would substitute players in a match to change the pattern of play, I too strive to change things by revamping my daily routine. A change of environment often provides a new impetus to whatever you are doing. In my case, a change of environment means staying at home, to work.

Staying home brings about other challenges--books, TV, telephone and many other domestic distractions. It takes a lot of willpower to be able to bring about a state of mind that's clear and focussed. But I have some weird rituals to help me achieve that: like lighting an aromatic incense, or putting on some Gregorian music in the background.

The so-called "work" that I have to do can perhaps be divided into two categories. The first category comprises of activities that "do not" require any thinking (or perhaps only at a very superficial level); this includes meeting people, making phonecalls, discussions and replying e-mails. These are easy and do not require a special frame of mind to tackle.

The second category of work is the most taxing: writing proposals and reports, researching, tabulating facts and figures, technical design, analyzing information and coming up with new ideas. It requires one to focus, dissect, analyze, synthesize and create. Like playing football, one's mental performance can also be quite inconsistent. Sometimes on a good day, ideas just come flowing to you. Other times, you are stuck.

When you encounter a block, it is good to break your current pattern of thinking. A change of environment helps sometimes. A change of background music could also do the trick--I have tried everything from Gregorian chants to Big Band Jazz to keroncong.

Classical music--Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi works best for me. Beethoven is a bit too tempestuous to be used as background music. In general, there's evidence to suggest that Baroque music induces a relaxed state of mind, making it conducive for learning. Keroncong is also very relaxing but it reminds me too much of Indonesia, and ends up being a distraction. I only use it when I'm in Jakarta.

Sometimes its just plain staleness and tiredness that's preventing us from achieving peak mental performance, in which case a break is needed. Maybe it's time for me to plan another pilgrimage to Indonesia...Blitar?

OK enough; no more crazy ideas, go back to work.

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