September 17, 2013

September 16th: Motivation

So it seems like I'm terrible at writing blog posts on Fridays. Who'd have thought? Luckily I learnt exactly two things about the world of work, one per day, and can claim them to be as such! Both on motivation, however.

Friday was one of the longest-feeling days I've had so far. There's something about coming in and sitting in front of a spreadsheet for seven or eight hours that drains the mind.

Oddly, what kept me going was something I'd been slacking off on, the action-recording/accountability stuff. Originally I'd been writing down every time I moved on to the data of another site, with only five to ten minutes between notes. Over time these became less frequent as I forgot to write things down or just couldn't be bothered because I was losing motivation.

But keeping track of my time helped, in a manner of speaking. Writing down what I was doing every few minutes kept me on track, and kept a record of what I'd achieved. What didn't help, and what had put me off it, was accounting for when I wasn't doing things, or deliberately leaving out periods of time in which I'd felt unproductive.

About half-way through friday, I resolved to put down everything I did, the buzz came back, and I realised that even things I thought were unproductive were actually really useful in the long-run as bits of background research.

Also, I realised that when you've got twenty charts to look through and a bunch of background research to do, and it's been really hard to find out when a building is use or whether it was in use June of last's ok to take more than ten minutes to analyse a site! Heck, it's ok to take more than half an hour. As long as you feel like your time has been spent well. The things that are difficult to find out tend to be the ones that are important, because nobody's managed to record them yet, and they've occasionally solved puzzles in the data that both me and my line manager have been stuck on.

Today was a lot more fun. A second, part-time intern returned, so I had company for the morning. We talked for about an hour and a half on our respective fields of study and why we were even here, then later on had a two-hour (supposedly one-hour) meeting to plan the rest of this week. (Spoilers: We'll be doing energy and lighting audits of sheltered accommodation to figure out how/if we can improve them. This could not really get more relevant to the project I want to do next year...)

All in all, about three and a half hours were taken up. And yet I feel like I got more of my spreadsheet done today than friday.

Turns out I forgot how motivational it is to have someone to talk to, or have a definite break from routine. Days of solid data analysis felt like they dragged from 3 o'clock onwards, but today I stormed straight past 5pm without signs of slowing. Maybe I need to take better stock of how I'm feeling, and when changing track will speed me up again.

Tomorrow we probably audit! Woo!

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