Focus & Completion

There’s a common practice of regular career discussions with a direct or 2nd level management within a corporate world. It’s time to discuss and design your career path within the company for upcoming years. Your dream positions, your skillset, development that might be needed etc. I remember one discussion with my 2nd level manager (manager of my manager) where during our discussions he mentioned something like: I sometimes wish I was a UPS driver, each morning you get a set of boxes that need to be delivered along with the contact information, you know exactly what do and mainly you finish your day with an empty truck. Of course that’s a simplified view, but the point was that A: your job is highly specific and B: you get to finish the task during the day, as opposed to never ending projects or task that carry on for weeks or even months.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and especially last week as I was helping my boyfriend with an apartment remodeling for his mum. We’re going all the way, new electrical wiring, flooring, windows, plumbing basically anything you need to change in an apartment that hasn’t been renovated for more then 3 decades. Once the electrical wiring was done, we started with the walls. I began my week with scraping several layers of paint from a 3x4m wall. Here’s what you do: you brush your wall with soapy water, let it set for 10 minutes and then get the tinniest spatula you can find (because as per shopping assistant there are no other) and just scrape the paint. It took me 8 hours. Yes 8. The next day we had to do the ceiling, same procedure, but this time it was 2 of us. Then I’ve tried drywall mudding & taping, sanding and my favorite tile removing (Figure 1). Each task a has 1 thing in common: you can’t do anything else. You can’t be drilling into a wall and painting at the same time or scrape the walls with one hand and remove tiles with other. In this case it’s physically not possibly, but why would the same not apply for non physical work ? Multitasking is often celebrated as one of the most desired skill to have and yet the same principle applies here. I can’t code a new logic and be actively present on a meeting. I can’t reply to 100 emails at once. I can’t analyze 2 problems at once. I can’t finish if I’m being interrupted all the time. The key thing here is focus on task at hand, once it’s divided you can’t give it 100%.  

Figure 1. Removing tiles with a hammer drill

My second observation is about completion which ties back to my point about a UPS driver. This type of work comes with a great satisfaction of physically seeing the result of your work once finished. Each checkpoint can be seen as things get built, painted or removed in front of your eyes. This is difficult to see many times in corporate jobs. Have you ever worked all week on some super duper analysis that someone somewhere may or may not read ? I’ve been there. It often seem pointless and intangible. Let’s not forget the difference of working for someone else and doing something for yourself or your family where the reward whether physical or not is perceived differently and there are other factors that need to be considered, but I think my point is clear.

All in all, I must say I really enjoyed a different kind of work (is it still called work if you don’t get paid? 😊) that challenged, thought and tested me in new ways. Once again I’ve confirmed for myself that I don’t want to perceive a career in construction industry, but here’s my top 3 list I took from this week: 1. Free Gym – I’m now an owner of tiny biceps sticking out of my arm. 2. I lost (unwillingly) my fear of falling off a ladder. 3. Removing tiles with a hammer drill feels so freaking good.