Usually, I’m pretty clear on when I’m going to work, and when I’m going to not work. In a given week, if I’m not traveling I’ll plan out more or less the days and times that I can be found doing different types of work: writing at one of my local cafes (morning or before a nearby appointment), in my home office making calls (afternoon), going on walks while on other calls (afternoon), doing email in my home office (afternoon).

Sometimes, though, life swoops in. Usually, this phrase calls up visions of sick children and broken cars and reasons to put life on hold and not work as much as planned. Sometimes, though, it’s just the opposite.

Last week I had set aside a few hours to finish the edits on a book I’m working on. Truth be told, I really dislike editing. It’s laborious and monotonous (two words I hope are different for the sake of this sentence) and just not for me. But I had dutifully gone to the café I like near my doctor’s office, ordered my shrimp and avocado salad with an orange and carrot juice, watched half an episode of Below Deck (yes) while eating, and then dove into work for two hours before my medical appointment. As I was leaving the office ninety minutes later, though, I felt a surge of energy. It was 6 pm – not a particularly high-energy time for me, and my surge I really mean like “imperceptible frisson”, but suffice it to say in that moment I made the choice to go with it.

I could’ve easily ignored said frisson, given that 6 pm on a Friday night after a full week and a full day was not at all a time I needed to work for another ninety minutes. Instead, it was more like a great time to go home, put my feet up, and finish that episode of Below Deck. In contrast to normal behavior, however, I went with it. I went back to the café.

And then, for ninety minutes, I plowed through more editing. Finishing what I had planned to do on Monday morning and smiling all the way home.

And it felt great.

I was ahead.


So I’m all for schedules and planning, but the lesson of last Friday was that occasionally – and only occasionally – we should watch out for those rare moments where we, for some reason that may or may not be related to dark chocolate or chai lattes, actually want to do a little “extra” work. A little work that wasn’t budgeted into our weekly allotment, and something that will put us a little ahead. Likely, this call will come at a very rare time – 6 pm on a Friday, for me – and so obeying it will seem all the harder and rarer simply for the fact of the hour it is. But listening to that energy will reward you with not only work produced, but in feelings of awesomeness.

Intentional work is the key to great innovation.

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