The hinges of my bathroom door have been loose for years. In order to close it you need to raise it a bit so it doesn’t grind against the floor. And we cannot lock it properly anymore because the board doesn’t fit into the door frame as my brother installed a new set of hinges to the other side of the board to fix the issue with the hinges. So all you can do is push the door slightly to make it stick to the frame (if you can imagine a magnetised wooden door), but not too hard as it will get stuck and you need to peel it off the frame and make screeching sound.
It has became a new normal for me and the people living in the house. We know how it behaves and how to interact with it.
Every once in a while there will be guests coming over and we would need to give them a tour and instructions on these tiny quirks of the house.
How many things in your day to day life actually require some instructions and disclaimers? Things you just have gotten accustomed to working around for and adapting to. Things you have considered as the new normal, and became blind to.
What are your quirks? The things you actually need to warn people about. Your manual, your particular “handle with care” areas.
I started keeping a very obsessive todo list at work since November 2017. Every day I would copy the txt file from the day before. I would do some planning work, prepare standup, and then start working; logging each activity starting with the timestamp.
Essentially outsourcing the mental burden.
It looks something like this:
## Standup ## Yesterday: - SA process work: analysis on converted deals, discussions with Lorrie - Worked on SAT-705, SAT-823, SAT-820, SAT-821 - Chatted with Jess RE:Lever workflow for external applicants, how to help - Discussions on Jira workflow with Jon (INF-1149) Today: - Revisit SAT-788, SAT-813 - SOW for SAT-750 - Followup on - Finalise the team's PR ## Chronological ## 08:32. starting. 08:43. standup prepped. logged into slack 08:57. all caught up with Slack, standup posted. 09:06. reply2 yogesh. let's start on SAT-813 10:25. reverted. logging 30m. let's have brunch. -- 30m -- 11:02. back. ...... 23:14. ok let's wrap up. I logged: 8.75h on Jira ## Backlog ## - review Product Selection Flowchart - ....
I need it to survive. It keeps me sane.
The nature of the work is very reactive. Urgency around maintaining lead time, lots of context switching, decision making, and constant reprioritisation. I need to make sure no ball is being dropped.
This system works so well. I kept on chugging and killing it. Doing, managing, documenting processes, unblocking, deep work, reactive work, firefighting, bring it on.
And it is burning me out.
This system is actually preventing me to notice a snowballing problem: my team is severely understaffed and I am running myself into the ground.
Only now that I realise it is purely a survival tactic. I should have noticed that something is inherently broken and looked for a sustainable solution to fix the root cause instead of adapting to anything that comes my way.
It has became the new normal.
What is your new normal?
When you notice these, ask yourself lots of questions: Do you like them? Are you even aware of them? Where did they come from? Why do you keep them? Is it useful? Do they make you proud? Do they feed your ego? Is it a hacky workaround? Why are you holding onto them? Should you leave them as they are? Should you do anything about them? What will you gain if you do? Did you make a conscious and deliberate choice on them?
Being aware of your normal determines what kind of expectation you have. And expectations sets your personal narrative. And a narrative can make or break you. Choose wisely.