By Joe Triccas
*This blog post takes inspiration from my old colleague's blog post.
“All of us have a finite amount of effort, and a finite time to spend it in.”
The above quote from the referenced post really resonated with me and gave me an insight into something that was missing from my expectations of myself and those around me.
It is easy to measure time and assess how much stuff you got done in that time. What is difficult is understanding the level of effort you expended in that time.
We live in an ever-changing culture, with mantras like “Be Kind” being in the common lexicon, it really took me by surprise just how unkind I could be to myself when assessing my ‘productivity.’ It also highlighted that, in a mostly subconscious manner, I was letting this slip over into my assessments of others.
The crux of this challenge, to me, is that whilst we all operate to the same clock, we all have different pools of effort available to us. This effort pool is not only drained by work. Everything in life takes a draw on it. Personal hygiene, home maintenance, children, maintaining relationships, personal development, work; it is all of these that are taking some of your effort every single day.
Are we all just machines?
My mind loves an analogy, and the running race analogy fits the bill quite nicely here. We all have a different ability to run a 100m. Some of us can cover the distance in say 15 seconds, using less effort.
In this context, it is quite easy to see how the amount of effort expended can be different from person to person, even if they are all running the same distance in the same amount of time.
Riding out the muse
As with any art form, inspiration can take hold, time measurements can fade away and effort can seem infinite. I have encountered many developers in my years, who can find such a deep passion for crafting code, that they can very easily find themselves working into the early hours of the morning.
To more traditional creative endeavours, this is known as riding out the muse. You never know if you are going to have a period of lesser enthusiasm, where you are less productive, or patently blocked, so you must “make hay whilst the sun shines”.
Each person is unique, with a cacophony of pulls on their time and effort. Some people may be able to run 100 meters in 15 seconds expending truly little effort, for others this may exhaust them before they hit the finish line.
It falls on each of us to understand our limitations, work on communicating those to our colleagues and loved ones, and ensure that, where we are unable to sustain levels of effort, we have built around us a support network to aid others. Likewise, it falls on each of us to be open to each persons’ differences, not hold them to our own internal standard (in terms of effort expenditure)
Joe is a System Tester at This is Milk. You can email him here, or click on his name to go to his Linkedin profile.