June 30, 2006

At Work, But Out of the Office

Last week, while at the Digital Government Summit, I was again reminded of that special thing that happens to me when I’m not in the office while at work. It can be some of my most creative, productive time.

There’s something about being at work, but not surrounded by the distractions and details and annoyances of the workplace, but presented with new information, in a training session or presentation on an interesting topic that gets my juices going. Leaving the detritus of my workplace behind is part of it. But going somewhere where I expect to learn is part of it, too. I open myself up to the new ideas and, as a consequence, find clarity and organization around work issues that had eluded me while embedded in the normal routine. And, I can attend to the session, as well, and bring back what I need to from that.

The effect is strong enough, though, that sometimes the most valuable things I bring back from a training session are not information about the presentation’s topic, but the new idea or the fresh approach to a problem that I had stymied me.

It’s not enough to just get away. When I do that, I find that I bring the distractions along. I need to have a reason to leave them behind. I also think I need there to be something positive to attend to, to create that openness to new ideas and ways of thinking, which loosens up the creative approaches.

I’ll have to try to figure out how to make this happen less by chance and more by plan.

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