April 10, 2007

Holidays, but not quite feeling it

  Rouen Cathedral 
  Originally uploaded by Edublogger.

I am on holiday, honestly, in Normandy with my family-in-law but despite the copious pain, vin and boursin, and beautiful days in the sun like this one in front of Rouen Cathedral, I'm finding it hard to disconnect.

Thing is, I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing. Having a break has given me time to read over the 2500 or so posts you all left for me this week in my aggregator; it's given me some time to listen to podcasts on my new video iPod (a present to myself while just happening to pass in front of the Regent Street Apple store); it's given me more time to read the various reports and research reports published by all and everyone this past two months.

A priori, I couldn't be more refreshed and keen to get back to some new exciting projects I think I might have up my sleeve.

But then I realised it this morning: these are the things I should be doing in my day job, as a New Technologies Research Practitioner (the clue's in the title, as they say). What have I been doing in the time I should have been doing this (followed by two unbroken weeks of pâtisserie and Bordeaux)?

Recently I have been spending a good bit of time on the road - it goes with this time of year when, between February and end April, I clock up most of my annual 56,000 miles - and I don't regret any of that.

However, in between times I've been diong all sorts of other tasks, Getting Things Done, for sure, but not really having enough slow days, enough of that unbroken time where mucking about you discover the next big thing you want to develop. I know this, too, because much of the blog posts and comments from educators this past week have been mentioning "how good it would be to have..." and, in most cases, these wanna-haves are the very projects I am ambling along with, trying to get done at the end of the day when the 'real work' is done. Some of them have been on that damned projects list for four months.

Innovation has, ironically, become a thing that is in my backseat instead of up front driving with me. And I'm worried, for the first time, about catching up.

I realise that most teachers can only dream of having this kind of work in the day job, packing any innovation into their own time, late at night or in their lunchtime. And I realise that I am extremely lucky to have a day job where I should be doing that at all. But when it is your job, you do need to redress the balance between doing stuff, which goes down well with the traditional organisational model of targets, timelines and milestones, and trying to innovate stuff, which often ends up on the scrapheap, laughed at, or dumped (only, I hasten to add from my experiences thus far, to be picked up and built later on).

So, no apologetic posts for taking a break. The break's done a power of good, although maybe not in the way I would have thought. Keep yourself tuned in here to see what might lie around this McIntosh's (not Macintosh's) corner.

Wonder if Monet ever had to balance cleaning paint brushes with painting that cathedral? I'm going to take a leaf out of his book. No milestones. No deadlines. No check boxes. not for a while anyway...


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Work/life balance is always a difficult one when you have a drive and commitment and the 2 overlap.
I hope your boss/mentor/supervisor reads this too. They have a responsiblity to make sure you take time for yourself and your life outside work.
And if you need some more reflection time come to Islay ;-)

Thanks for this reflection. I’ve been worrying recently that my efforts to learn new things on my computer – a slow process- have taken up too much time. I felt it very keenly at the end of last term when a few of my ‘innovations’ were disappointing. There is also that thing called ‘life’ which has to be fitted in too.

I’m glad you are trying to resist the comfort of setting yourself deadlines to ‘prove’ you are ‘doing’ something. It takes courage. I don’t read an awful lot of education blogs. I would love to but time constraints etc. However I do read yours faithfully. I like all the new stuff you find. But I am even more interested in your comments on the impact this will have on education. What is happening online is increasingly filtering into our daily lives and those of our pupils. We need to understand this stuff –not just know about it. You give teachers a way into the debate about it, at an early stage. You make it possible for us to be proactive rather than reactive. It makes a world of a difference. Thanks.

It's like balancing short-term objectives with long-term goals, right? We have to invest a bit more time in the present so we can make sure that we're productive in the future. Despite to seemingly waste time, we're actually improving the quality of what we do. I think that was a point in the 4-Hr Workweek of Ferriss, the emphasis on quality of productivity.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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