Has this ever happened to you? You’re working on a document that you’ve spent hours collaborating on.
And it disappears.
[Insert “poofing” sound here]
This happened to me today. My supervisor and I were working on a document that required a fair amount of concentration and mental investment. After finishing it up, we saved it, and at some point, somehow, saved over it. Neither one of us knows how it happened, but after getting over our frustration and disappointment, we looked at each other, sat down, and got back to work.
This isn’t a new thing for me (happily it hasn’t happened too many times), but it has happened enough for me to realize some of the dangers of doing too much, too fast, too often.
We work in very fluid roles that are often all-encompassing. Role boundaries have disappeared, and our professional and personal circles have blended (for some of us these circles have become one and the same, for others, they only slightly overlap). While this is great for seamlessness and it allows for being a continuous learner to be much easier, it can be a challenge when our “Jack of all trades” (or “Jane”) nature results in us trying to balance lots of different, and often un-related, experiences on only a few heads.
I’m not entirely sure what would have prevented the erasure of that file. I don’t know if it would have made a difference if we had more time to devote to the work, or if we were more careful as we wrapped our work up. It might have also been because we were also discussing other items and ideas over the course of the time we were working on it. I likely will never know how we could have best avoided the “Wait. Where’d It Go?”
That said, it is clear to me that we can’t get back that time, and whatever we would have been doing instead of repeating our work will need to be saved for another time and another place. It makes me think about the value of a clear, unyielding focus, similar to the “Hedgehog Concept” that Jim Collins writes about in Good to Great (that I think is based on an ancient fable or two). The idea is that a set, focused, direction will lead to achievement in all (or almost all) cases. So, if I was focused on one idea at a time, would I be more effective at “holding on” to important work?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but as I wrap this post up right before bed, I’m left wondering, “Would I have even more time to reflect on this if we hadn’t lost the file we had worked so hard on?”