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My Name is Len Holgate, and I'm a workaholic

I've posted this over on my blog http://www.lenholgate.com but since I don't get much traffic over there and I actually want some answers I thought I'd post it here too.

I run my own software consultancy. I have an office at home, several clients that I work for on site and several that I work for from home.

Given that the work I do goes on in my head and can be done anywhere I find that it's often done everywhere. Anyone got any hints on how to switch off?

Skiing and inline skating are good for me as I can't think about other things when I'm doing them - and we do them together. Everything else always has the risk of being interrupted by an 'a-ha!' moment where a 'work' problem is suddenly solved and I need to scurry away to the study to implement the idea... And then you get in the flow and hours go by and you haven't spent time with people you should.

Suggestions welcome.

Len Holgate
Monday, July 07, 2003

You don't *want* to switch it off - away from the box is where you do most of your best lateral thinking and problem solving.

What you have to deal with is not stopping what you're doing when you have a flash of inspiration - tuck it away; it'll still be there when you go back to work. (Or carry a palm or mp3 recorder and take a quick reminder note)

Philo

Philo
Monday, July 07, 2003

Paper notebook. I am not kidding. Carry around a little notebook and pen and jot down your 'Aha' moments. Teach your brain to consider the stuff in the notebook as finalized until you reach your desk again.

I do not mean PDA or cellphone, by the way - what with Java-on-phone and Outlook synchronization, the temptation to go further than just jot down may be too much :)

Astarte
Monday, July 07, 2003

True, perhaps I should just keep a notepad with me and scribble in it and then put it down and continue with what I'm doing...

Len Holgate
Monday, July 07, 2003


Get a demanding, and/or challenging and/or "meaningful" hobby.

Enlist in the Guard or Reserve.  Join the Knights of Columbus or St. Vincent De Paul.  Get active in your local church.  Join the Royal Rangers or Boy Scouts or Calvinist Cadets.  Join the Civil Air Patrol. 

Go back to school at night.

Some of these may end up feeling like work (In the Guard, you'll get paid :-)  -- but they are a different kind of work.  As a result, you can recharge your batteries in one area while doing another -- kinda like growing legumes for a year or two instead of cotton.

Or hang out with your family.

JMHO.

Matt H.
Monday, July 07, 2003

I'm trying to do the hang out with the people I should be hanging out with thing...

It's not that I need to recharge, it's that I need to stop jumping back to work when I should be spending time 'at home'.

Len Holgate
Monday, July 07, 2003

You know those little Pen/Mp3 Recorders that you see at Radio Shack and wonder why anyone would want such a silly device? You just found out. :-)

Philo is right, jotting down the idea is the best way to handle it. I'm in the same situation as you and this is how I've managed to handle it. I still jump into the study at times, but I do so much less often.

Marc
Monday, July 07, 2003

Try surfing, if you live near the shore. I bet you won't be able to think about work below a 12ft wave ;)

Ros
Monday, July 07, 2003

Len, I am posting here the post I tried to post on your board. It gives some insight into your comment "I don't get much traffic".

----

Len, could you make the text of the articles bigger? I have to press 'larger' six times in my browser before your text is of a readible size. Also, the off-brown text is sort of hard to read because of the low contrast. Go with straight black is my advise. And where is the 'submit post' button? I guess I just press return... well here goes... nope that didn't work, ok now I am clicking on the body of the web page itself and then pressing return... hope it works... nope... now trying enter... well shoot how the heck does this work?

Dangit - I'm going to have to post this to you over on JoS. Len, this is why people don't post on your board!!

X. J. Scott
Monday, July 07, 2003

If you were an artist, you would "enjoy" (quote unquote) these epiphanies away from the canvas, but since this is what you get paid to do, when you get these moments when you're with your friends, you resent them. Also, if your friends were artists too, you could share it with them and they would appreciate it.

I agree with everyone who said take a notebook with you to jot these things down. Get a fancy leather one from Barnes & Noble so all the girls think you're a sensitive writer type.

Your brain is like a cruise ship. It doesn't change directions or stop very quickly or easily. On the other hand, if you did stop it and change directions all the time it would take you longer to get where you needed to go.

www.marktaw.com
Monday, July 07, 2003

Len,

I'm so envious of you. I'd be glad to even be able to concentrate on my work when I _am_ at work.
Just charge your customers the time you're skiing and inline skating if you have great ideas while doing that.

dat
Monday, July 07, 2003

X.J. Scott,

I went with a standard movable type css style assuming it would be OK... Looks fine for me in IE 6, but, I'll try another tomorrow and see if that's better...

I get preview and post buttons beneath the comment entry boxes. Which browser are you using?

Len Holgate
Monday, July 07, 2003

Len, I'm using the latest iCab which is 2.9.1. I did see the button tags in your source listing and don't know why they don't show up, maybe something about the xml is weird. Normally iCab can give a report showing what parts of html source are problematic for any given page but those reports only work for html and not xml. iCab does render xml though, it just doesn't generate error reports for it.

I don't recall having seen this issue with unrendered buttons on other sites but I don't always try to post.

This may be one of those times where IE6 is more forgiving in autocorrecting some small thing than other browsers, or maybe its some part of xml that iCab doesn't do right.

Let's test this... OK, MSIE 5 shows the buttons. Oh! And the text is normal sized. And here we go, NS 4.7 renders it ok as well. Huh! Probably an issue with iCab then...

On the type size, if it helps, type is normal in appearance in body text on all other sites I can think of that I visit regularly with iCab...

X. J. Scott
Monday, July 07, 2003

Mark

I do enjoy them, that's part of the problem I think. It's not that I resent the moments it's that the person I'm with resents me suddenly getting up from reading the sunday papers and wandering back to the study and then working until lunch time...

I think the notepad idea is a good one. I'll try it.

Len Holgate
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I'm running XP at a resolution of 1280x1024 and your website STILL shows a horizontal scrollbar.

That should not happen.

Warren Henning
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I agree.

The style sheet got screwed up this morning. I'll fix it when I get back to the office.

I'm pretty sure it didn't have that particular problem prior to this morning ...

Len Holgate
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

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