Monday, April 21, 2008

All Work And No Learning...

Lately, work has just felt way too busy. No conscious time to stop and smell the roses; to reflect on what's been going on and why; to incorporate any lessons learned. There's barely any time to even think if I've learned any lessons.

Sometimes I just want to punch in the proverbial time card and go home and do the rest of my life. Or sometimes the next project or task slams right into me and there's no time to breath.

But how lame is that?

When this kind of grueling, work cycle hits, aren't you in danger? Not just of burnout, but of being stuck in the mode of repeating the same mistakes again and again? Of continuing to do the same crappy job, because you know how to crank out that kind of crap in the necessary time frame?

How does one build learning into work -- how do you build learning into work -- when you just don't feel like you have the time?

Here's some of what I've been trying lately, in an effort not to let some important lessons slip by -- in an effort to keep the passion and NOT enter burnout land:

Take notes. Instead of just relying on my faulty memory ("Oh, there's no way I'll forget that..."), I've been taking notes: In my paper notebook, in Google Notebooks, an occasional Jott to myself. Things I could've/should've/would've done differently, if only...Ideally, I'd blog about my experiences more, but frankly, I just haven't had the time.

Verbalize. Speak the mistakes out loud to other teammates, if I can. This helps internalize it.

Be open. Always try to learn from the mistakes; don't just brush them under the rug and pretend they didn't happen. They did. [I've been working on a knitting project for the past few months and have learned more undoing stitches and fixing mistakes, than anything else. Some mistakes I've left in the piece -- humble reminders of my own imperfection. That, and some things just aren't worth going back to fix -- but at least I can understand what I did wrong all those rows ago].

Take time off. Create a light at the end of your tunnel. I've got a maternity leave to look forward to pretty soon. A different kind of focus, a lot of opportunity to make different kinds of mistakes, but it will be a change in pace. If I didn't have that on the books, I'd certainly need some time off...

What else?
  • Read blogs (yes, but I haven't had the time to focus -- instead I skim -- not nearly as satisfying...)
  • Lessons learned meetings (do people still do this? We talk about it, but there's rarely the time. Suggestions?)
So how do you keep your passionate learning mind open when you're working your butt off?

This post was written rather hastily as a humble contribution to the April 2008 Working/Learning Blog Carnival. Be sure to check out all the other great contributions!

9 comments:

Janet Clarey said...

How you know you're approaching burnout? "I've got a maternity leave to look forward to pretty soon." (when waking every two hours is preferable to an unending stream of projects, you are approaching burnout). Right about now, I too could use a maternity leave : )

Hang in there. There's a reason you're busy...you're good!

Cammy Bean said...

Thanks, Janet! I needed that.

In June, when the bags under my eyes are mile-wide, I'm sure I'll be wishing for the peace and quiet of endless projects. At least clients don't scream at the top of their lungs or puke on me...

Dave Ferguson said...

...At least clients don't scream at the top of their lungs or puke on me...

Give 'em time.

Erin Murphy said...

I think a lot of times we forget how fun it can be to add an element of pretending into our everyday work schedule. Sometimes just to spice things up, I'll pretend I'm a detective and that my work task is a mystery that needs to be solved. It might sound corny, but it can make the task seem a lot less tedious (Of course, I don't have the cool Law & Order music in the background).

Also, I think it's important to incorporate our strengths into everyday work. Marcus Buckingham (a guy worth looking into for learning and training) proposes a new definition of strengths that does not restrict a person to the things that they are good at. He proposes that a strength is, “An activity that makes you feel strong.” I think it's important to know the difference to avoid getting burnt out at work...

I like your suggestions too Cammy, reading blogs throughout the day helps me to learn and catch a breather at the same time :-) Good luck at work!

Cammy Bean said...

I like Erin's detective approach -- make the day into a game, really...it's more fun that way.

Dave -- have you ever been puked on by a client?

Chris Morgan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Morgan said...

I actually put time in my diary to do the things I most enjoy and also the things that help me avoid burnout.

In an Outlook culture I found that if it was in my diary then I would do it - if not then time just disappeared.

Today I had two entries...45 mins for a run and 30 mins to update my blog. Works for me!

http://learn2develop.blogspot.com

Cammy Bean said...

Chris, that's disciplined! And a great way to ensure that you're building in that time for reflection. I love walking in the woods at lunch when I can -- time to reflect over the morning's work and get a little exercise for the boot. I mean, to boot. I mean...

lijialefw said...

The story is about a very small (wow gold)because the (wow gold)reasons for the (wow gold) expulsion Chushi doors have been forced to(wow power leveling) living on the United Kingdom, (wow power leveling)in abroad alone the people(wow power leveling) struggling for survival. A naturally do not (wow power leveling) agree with the ethical person. A war many of the cracks in the middle of the(wow gold) pursuit of hard power of (World of Warcraft gold) extreme people. A look at(wow power leveling) the friendship will be more important than the lives of people. The best of life, the best of the best stories or Long Road. Like Xiuzhen's friends must-see (Rolex)category.