Last week I had one of those weeks where everything was back to back.

A mess

I had one of those weeks where everything was back to back, where I didn’t feel like I had any time to ‘do any work’ where I was on too many video calls, and where I felt like I was always being dragged in different and sometimes contradictory directions.

It also meant I was working most evenings until quite late, and still felt like I didn’t get to the end of my to-do list. Everything got a bit out of balance across my life, and so everything just started to feel like a mess.

I get fed up when weeks get like this, but I also have to remind myself to ride it out.

Threads in the knot

The reason to ride it out is that things invariably start to emerge from the mess. I begin to notice interesting connections from a call that I was on and some work that has just picked up. I think about connecting somebody on a call on Thursday to a fascinating person I met on Tuesday. I feel like that report I have been trying to kick around all week is now starting to make sense, and I understand the argument. I see that what we’re learning in one part of the organisation has relevance somewhere else; if only we can change the wiring a little to connect it.

My old boss, my first proper boss and somebody I really valued, taught me two perennially useful things:

  1. When you’re working, think about the end-use of the end-user.
  2. You’re aiming for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Sitting in the complexity doesn’t help anyone, but you need to go through it.

This was a week where I focussed on both.

Reading, listening and watching

My media consumption was pretty messy this week too. But I discovered that Jill Lepore now has a podcast (who doesn’t?!) It’s with Malcolm Gladwell’s company, which makes sense to me – they’re a good fit. If you’ve not read her history of America, These Truths, and are interested in a 21st-century history of that strange and remarkable country, then I’d recommend it. The podcast was odd, but interesting. I’m intrigued to see where she takes it.

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