I have long advocated that when you have fun doing something for work that you need to be especially certain to take some time away from the keyboard to recharge. I like to spend time with the family, tinker in my garage, read and play video games. This last weekend was a long weekend (for me) and I think I hit all of these points. The neat thing about “away from keyboard” time is that typically, I end up getting some sort of neat idea or having a profound thought or two, which I think I will now share.
1) Changing the river starts small.
We have had a stretch of phenomenal weather up here in the great PNW, so we went to the river on Monday. After doing the usual bit of exploring and wading, me and the kiddos started doing what we usually do…building. We built up pools in the shallows with rocks and ran some experiments on how the river behavior changes just by us moving things around. It was really neat to take in the fact that yes, we were changing things and no, we probably wouldn’t see the results for a very long time.
2) Fixing one thing might expose other borked areas.
I spent some time fixing my radio control airplane on Friday. It was a lot of fun, and I was able to get the servo sort of fixed. Excited for a test flight, I fired up the motor and gave it a toss just to witness it come crashing down. Turns out, I fixed the servo, but messed up the horizontal flap alignments.
3) Know when to walk away.
Being the fixer person that I am, I did not take point #2 easily. However, it was getting late, I was tired and my brain was getting fuzzy. I have been dealing with the cruel mistress R/C for long enough to know that being tired with a fuzzy brain around xacto knives and duct tape can lead to some bad decisions so I walked away. In fact, I didn’t touch the plane again all weekend.
4) Don’t rush to build.
I have a R/C airboat that has a problem that I created. I put a pretty powerful motor / propellor combination on it. In fact, the propellor creates so much thrust that the boat will not turn straight. I started working on a solution but realized that I needed a method of testing that didn’t involve a lake and wading. So, exercising point #3, I walked away and just chewed on the problem for a while. I don’t remeber exactly when, but some time later on in the day, the solution came to me. Instead of reaching for pen and paper to sketch out the design, or even just heading to the workbench, I pondered and refined in my head. Doing this allowed me to refine out quite a bit of the design before I even commited it to pen and paper.
How do you recharge? Do you find yourself saying, “I spend my free time <<work related activity goes here>>”? Take some time to just do this weekend and see what comes up.