Monday 3 June 2013

Can you think creatively, type, format and sit at your desk all at the same time?

A challenge for you - yes another one - try going somewhere comfy and writing long hand and see what happens. You might just be surprised.

At the end of March after 2 months of near enough full time sitting at my desk developing leadership and management scripts for e-learning I was in pain. The sort of pain that required 24 hour painkillers to sleep and type (please note my arthritic knees never get a single pain killer).

It would seem all that typing and bad posture had taken their toll. Thankfully I then had a week's holiday and did manage to have some treatment for what it would appear was RSI in the shoulder and arm. Returning to work I could spend no more than 20 minutes at the PC without being in pain. I had deadlines to meet and needed to come up with a solution. Her name was Lorna and she was to do my typing. All I had to do was write long hand, from a comfy seat with this view, and hand it all over to her.

The surprise for me was the writing suddenly became more creative, more connected, less disjointed and certainly more easily read and much more pleasurable to write. Why? Because when I was trying to be creative, type, format and edit the pages the flow was constantly broken as I tried to do all 4 at the same time. A graphic could take me an hour as I formatted and reformatted it as my thoughts developed. Now I draw it on paper, make changes, leave it to percolate, make more changes and that will still only take me 15 mins in total. Lorna then has the pleasure of formatting it, for me to edit it later. 

What I thought would be a short term solution is turning into a long term part of day to day working. My arm is much better now but Lorna remains for 1 day a week. Yes costs have increased but that's a small price to pay for more enjoyable, more creative and better work. 

Even if I'm unable to use Lorna I'm still going to use writing long hand in a comfy and more creative space more often. It's certainly made me think about the way in which technology has forced me to take on working practices that are, it seems for me, very counterproductive.

Alison Smith
The purchasing coach
Inspiring change inside and out

PS I know voice recognition software might be the way to go - but looking at my long hand pages and understanding how they develop very (and I mean very) non linearly I'm unsure how easy that would be. Never say never - but currently this process that allows my kinaesthetic and visual presences to be accommodated is here to stay.

PPS One word of caution - thinking, typing and formatting for 8 hours does provide variety and it would seem provides the brain with rest periods. Writing long hand with none of the other distractions doesn't. I have therefore found the need for water and high protein snacks has increased as my brain has been put to work for longer periods. 4 hours, with mini breaks, is about the maximum before at least an hour's break is needed from such creative thinking.

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