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Spending Annual Leave Wisely

I’ve got some annual leave time from work coming up. I’m not going away on a holiday. It’s going to be time spent at home supporting the family.

Despite there being a lack of travel and adventure tied to this leave, I still need to make sure I construct a plan for the time. I don’t want to get to the end of it and be confronted with a return to work, only to realise I’ve wasted my leave not doing much besides noodling around on the computer for no meaningful outcome.

A recent post from David Sparks about Intentionality aligns well with this thinking. I also like his idea of using a birthday as a personal annual review day. That’s clever. With my birthday being smack-bang in the middle of the year, it also can work as a half-year review.

Roald Dahl’s Work Environment

Roald Dahl’s books brought me hours of enjoyment when I was a child. There was little that could top the excitement of reading one of his books that would, of course, be illustrated by Quentin Blake. He created a world into which I could immerse myself, no matter how fantastical the setting might be.

Now, via Jason Kottke, I’ve had an opportunity to see, in the video embedded below, the environment in which Dahl worked, and to him him speak of the mindset needed to create such amazing works of fiction.

There are concepts arising in this video that have started to again be considered relevant in today’s modern world as being helpful in improving productivity and performance.

Highlights from this short clip include:

  • The need to immerse himself, for around 4 to 5 hours per day, in the work, and be away from other things. This reflects perfectly the concept of ‘deep work’ as recently brought into public consciousness by Cal Newport. It takes time, focus and the avoidance of distraction to reach a zone of high productivity. This place is rare in the modern workplace. Making time for extended periods of focus can represent a huge competitive advantage over the competition.
  • The simplicity of the tools. No computers, typewriters, productivity methods. Just paper, pencil, a basic desk and a thermos of tea. The tools don’t make the work. They are, however, customised to his needs.
  • The necessity for play. Play is again considered relevant and useful in improving productivity and well-being. Dahl spends time with friends playing snooker on a regular — and scheduled — basis. I have no doubt it released stresses from his mind and left him fresh to focus on writing when it was time to do so.
  • The smoking. Okay, so that was an unknown negative at the time. We’re doing better on that count.

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